Review of Coco (2017)
Seen in 2019.
The framing level of the narrative, wherein a child wants to be a musician in a family of shoemakers that hate music, is lifeless. It makes very little sense and its conclusion is exactly what you would predict from watching the trailer. It disparages workers and elevates artists like the filmmakers themselves without any of the realistic consequences of an abusive child-parent relationship seen in Tangled (2010).
All the fun is to be had in the Campbellian Land of the Dead, where Pixar pulls in little emblems of pre-Columbian religion instead of Christianity. Here, the script adds shade to the child’s artistic ideal: A famous performer takes the phrase “seize your moment”, recognizable as a by-his-bootstraps mantra of purported talent, and gives it more sinister implications. Alas, this comes at the cost of melodramatic villainy.
Viewed obliquely as Disney’s return to Latin America, Coco is more fun than The Three Caballeros (1944), but it never breaks free of formula.