What it’s about: In Disney Pixar’s “Coco,” which hits theaters Wednesday, Miguel (the voice of newcomer Anthony Gonzalez) can’t seem to shake his family’s ban on music. The tween finds himself torn between his love for family and his devotion to music and his idol Ernesto de la Cruz (voice of Benjamin Bratt).
On Dia de los Muertos, his desire and desperation to be a musician lead him to the Land of the Dead where he meets Hector (voice of Gael García Bernal). Together, the duo set out to get Miguel back to the Land of the Living and find the truth behind the boy’s passion for music.
What kids will like: Disney Pixar’s animation is always top notch, but watching “Coco” in 3-D offers a spectacular view of the colorful nuances and artistry that the studio brings to film. From the intricacies of Miguel’s guitar-strumming hands to the vivid life of the Land of the Dead, children will be in awe of the bright colors that make the subject of death not so much scary as magical. Of course, the addition of whimsical spirit animals also adds a fun element.
What parents will like: The not-so-subtle artistic humor of Frida Kahlo (voice of Natalia Cordova-Buckley) will bring chuckles to the parental types.
Also how Pixar managed to show emotional depth with skeletons is a testament to the artists. The filmmakers went to great lengths to provide an authentic look at Mexican culture. What may surprise most viewers is how touching “Coco” becomes. Sobs could be heard during the screening, and there weren’t enough tissues to go around in the theater. (You’ve been warned.)
Lesson learned: A family’s enduring love for each other transcends death.
Action/violence: The youngest viewers may be disturbed by the subject matter of death and images of skeletons in the Land of the Dead. There isn’t much violence, but the few scenes of violent acts made some parents flinch.
Good to know: There is a 22-minute short feature, “Olaf’s Frozen Adventure,” that precedes the film, which was not shown at some advance screenings.
Recommended for: Definitely a family film but be aware that children younger than 6 may be distressed by some of the imagery and subject matter.
Disney Pixar’s Coco
☆☆☆☆ (out of 5)
Directors: Lee Unkrich, Adrian Molina
Cast: Anthony Gonzalez, Gael García Bernal, Benjamin Bratt.
Rated: PG (thematic elements)
Running time: 109 min.