It used to be that Pixar could do no wrong. The first few years, from first feature Toy Story, they churned out hit after hit. Yes, even A Bug’s Life. But somewhere after the first Cars sequel, it didn’t feel like they were trying as hard. Hell, I didn’t even see The Good Dinosaur. And while Finding Dory was fine, it just felt like Pixar was going down the wrong path of needless sequels and lackluster originals. While Coco isn’t a flat-out masterpiece, it’s pretty damn close.

The central figure in Coco is 12-year-old Miguel, a wannabe musician from a family that has pretty much banned everything music related for generations. Miguel just wants to perform and on Dia de los Muertos (Mexican holiday “Day of the Dead”), there’s a festival that he sees as his big break. Well, through some random circumstances and a bit of magic, Miguel is accidentally transported to the realm of the dead and thus begins his quest to make it back home to the land of the living. Naturally, his journey in the dead realm also ties to music, and his search for his great-great-grandfather Ernesto De La Cruz.

There are plot twists that are fairly predictable, and even the title of the movie (Coco is Miguel’s great-grandmother) is a bit of a spoiler when you search for the significance of a seemingly minor character. Thankfully, the movie is beautiful, the world of dead is wonderfully realized, bright tapestry of colors; and the characters Miguel meets on his journey are interesting, The emotional wallop at the end is well-earned and more affecting than the opening of Up (which seems to be Pixar’s emotional barometer, even if it didn’t affect me the same way it did everyone else).

Coco is fun, and if you can manage to see it without the insipid Frozen short that was initially tacked on to the beginning, all the better.

My Grade – B+

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