'Coco' - Movie Review

Before I saw "Coco," I accused it (based on the trailer) of being overly similar to "The Book of Life," which came out in 2014 - having seen the movie I haven't changed my opinion. Both are animated children's movies about a young man who crosses into the Mexican version of the land of the dead where he turns to music (a career denied him by his family in the living world) to save himself and return to the land of the living. Within that frame there are many differences, and Pixar's "Coco" is the better film overall, but "The Book of Life" did come first and I feel it's been unfairly ignored in all the noise about "Coco."

Miguel (Anthony Gonzalez) wants to play guitar, but he's expected to become a shoemaker like the rest of his family because music is barred from their lives. In an effort to prove himself a musician, he steals the guitar of his dead idol - and disappears from the land of the living. The "why" of that one is never explained, although the rules of him getting back are explicated in great detail. In the land of the dead he tries to track down his father, and many discoveries are made about his family.

The film spends a lot of time on the ideas of "respect for family" and "be true to yourself," building the core of its conflict on the two being at odds with each other for our main character. It's sweet, enjoyable, and even more than usually family-oriented, but not up there with Pixar's very best ("Toy Story," "Toy Story 2," "Finding Nemo," "The Incredibles," and "Inside Out").