It’s surprisingly difficult to talk about ‘Coco’ without it devolving into flailing and high-pitched noises.
So if you’re a parent, brace yourself for a lot of singing, flailing and re-tellings.
‘Coco’ is everything you want from a kid’s movie. It’s entertaining, of course, but that’s just the beginning.
It’s sweet without being cloying, with conversations around culture, family, death and belief that aren’t dumbed down for younger audiences.
Its songs are beautiful, memorable and more than able to worm themselves into your mind. The animation feels like Disney at its prime with a plot that’s lovely, if a little bit heart-breaking.
After his great-grandfather abandoned his family to chase a career in music, Miguel’s great-grandmother created a rule: no music. For generations, nobody has minded overly much.
But Miguel isn’t like the rest of his family. There’s music in his heart and a dream to play like his hero, Ernesto de la Cruz.
When Miguel realises Ernesto might just be the great-grandfather he’d always wondered about, it sets off a chain of events that see the young boy trapped within the Land of the Dead.
With adorably dopey stray mutt Dante and a trickster named Hector to help him, Miguel has one night to change the rest of his life - and maybe even meet his idol.
For those worried that the skeletons will scare kids, rest assured: this isn’t your usual Halloween fare. The Day of the Dead is a religio-cultural observance in Mexico that has only the barest similarities to Halloween. It’s a celebration of family, not horror, and these skeletons are family members.
That actually makes ‘Coco’ an impressive, if earnest, way to start conversations around mortality with kids.
While this is probably a movie to avoid on days you’re struggling with loss, or if the holiday stress has a habit of leaving you sobbing at the slightest provocation, it’s the sort of emotionally compelling, feels-shattering romp that it seems only kid’s movies are capable of delivering.
To say this is a movie just for kids, though, is ridiculous. As always, there’s more than enough to keep the adults laughing - and thinking - with enough drama and intrigue to keep all ages entertained.
Thankfully, with movies like ‘Moana’ and ‘Coco’, Disney (and Pixar) are shifting away from Anglo-centric storytelling and bringing diversity to wonderful life upon the screen.
Discussions around cultural ideas and celebrations work incredibly well within this genre, and what you get with ‘Coco’ is a multi-layered junk-punch to the status quo.
Here, the characters are Mexican (and voiced by Latino actors), and the Day of the Dead celebration isn’t positioned as weird, silly or pointless - it’s treated as utterly normal. That respectfulness is a long time coming and hopefully there’ll be a lot more culturally diverse stories in our cinematic futures.
‘Coco’ is released nationwide on Boxing Day, so if you’re wanting to put the family spirit into your Christmas celebrations, you might want to grab your tickets now.
Rating: 5 stars