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Laramie Movie Scope: Coco

A festive movie about family history and music

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by Robert Roten, Film Critic
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November 28, 2017 – This colorful animated feature is very similar to another film I like, “The Book of Life” (2014). Although Coco looks like a ripoff of Book of Life, it is not. It turns out that the timeline for development of this film, and differences in the story itself, precludes it being a ripoff of the earlier film. Although the two films are similar, it is clear that Coco is the result of a much bigger budget and much better promotion. Coco also has the Pixar name behind it.

Coco is the story of a young boy, who wants to be a musician, but his family is dead set against this because of a bad family history with musicians. Coco's great grandfather was a musician who abandoned his wife and child to seek fame and fortune, or so the story goes. The grandfather is so despised, his picture has been removed from the family gallery of those honored on the Day of the Dead (Día de Muertos) a holiday celebrated on October 31, November 1, and November 2.

Traditionally, the family ancestors are honored on this holiday with pictures, candles and gifts on home alters and at graves. In this film, the grateful dead are festive, but those who have been forgotten by the living cease to inhabit the afterlife.

Coco finds himself among those in the afterlife, even though he is still alive. He gets trapped there because he stole a guitar from the belongings of a dead musician, Ernesto de la Cruz, the most famous person, and greatest musician, ever born in Coco's town. Coco finds out that he must obtain the blessing of one of his ancestors in order to be returned to the land of the living.

Coco embarks upon a quest to find Ernesto de la Cruz, his great-great grandfather, in order to get his blessing. His other relatives in the land of the dead won't give him their blessing unless he agrees to give up music. In his travels among the dead, he finds another musician, Hector, who agrees to take him to Ernesto if Coco promises to bring his picture back to the land of the living so he will be remembered.

Coco encounters many setbacks on his journey to find Ernesto, and he discovers some very unsettling secrets about Ernesto and his family history along the way. It is a race against the clock as Coco must get a blessing from an ancestor before the dawn that ends Día de Muertos, or be trapped forever in the land of the dead.

This turns out to be a very heartwarming story about family and the ending is quite emotional. The golden touch of Pixar and executive producer John Lasseter is evident here. The best of the Pixar movies often have these warm, emotional touches.

The artwork is stunning, and there are some nice musical performances in this film. This movie rates a B+. A 21-minute animated feature based on the hit film “Frozen,” called “Olaf's Frozen Adventure” is being shown as an extra opening feature with this film. “Frozen 2,” scheduled for a 2019 release, is reportedly already in pre-production.

Click here for links to places to buy or rent this movie in digital formats, or to buy the soundtrack, posters, books, even used videos, games, electronics and lots of other stuff. I suggest you shop at least two of these places before buying anything. Prices seem to vary continuously. For more information on this film, click on this link to The Internet Movie Database. Type in the name of the movie in the search box and press enter. You will be able to find background information on the film, the actors, and links to much more information.

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Copyright © 2017 Robert Roten. All rights reserved.
Reproduced with the permission of the copyright holder.
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Robert Roten can be reached via e-mail at my last name at lariat dot org. [Mailer button: image of letter and envelope]

(If you e-mail me with a question about this or any other movie or review, please mention the name of the movie you are asking the question about, otherwise I may have no way of knowing which film you are referring to)