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Coco review: death should not be this uplifting

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Reading time: 2 minutes

La Dia de los Muertos, Mexico’s day of the dead celebration gets the Pixar treatment, with stories of forgotten pasts displayed in true, magical technicolor with a frankly joyful soundtrack.

Miguel is a young musician, banned from playing the guitar by his family as Miguel’s great, great grandfather abandoned them for music.

We must be the only family in Mexico that doesn’t like music!” he cries.

Matriarch of the family, Abuelita does all the huarache shoe throwing she can to stop any music. But you can’t stop passion. Suspecting his great, great grandfather may be the Mexican music icon, Ernesto De La Cruz, Miguel sneaks into the late stars memorial tomb to borrow his guitar for a talent show. But on La Dia de los Muertos, a single strum of the legendary guitar sends him straight to the land of the dead. The issue (besides being surrounded by initially scary skeletons), is he only has until sunrise to get his family’s blessing – otherwise he’s stuck forever.

Director, Lee Unkrich has a valiant effort at reaching the insane standards Pixar sets. And although it won’t go down as a classic, its message will stand the test of time as familial values, death of a loved one and chasing dreams will always be relevant.

Coco discusses darker issues with such vibrancy, it removes the gut wrench of death, encouraging those of us suffering from loss to find solace in the life lived, rather than feel remorse. It’s fantastic for parents and children alike and with no dry eyes in the house, you can see the efforts of voice actors and animators paying off in a big way – capturing magic while delivering an important message.

It’s marketed as a kids’ film (and for the most part it is), but everyone needs to watch to discover more about a heritage that needs to be learnt. Plus there’s a lesson or two to take on board: tell the stories of your granddad to your children, talk about that time way back when, breathe life and colour back into the past because as Miguel finds out, if you spend too much time rushing forward, there’s nothing meaningful to look back on. I’d give it 4 flicks.

The shock? The lack of subtitles were great as the animators used body language so vividly that you could piece together entire scenes and songs.

The let down? Won’t lie, I wouldn’t have minded more music.

Audience rating? Don’t let your child control the bag of food, it’s loud. At one point he was literally just crunching the wrapper to the family share pack of cookies you brought along for two of you.

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