December 2, 2021 – This musical story about unrequited love, family and friendships carries an emotional punch. This is basically a road movie in which many things go wrong, but love and friendship eventually save the day.
The central character is a kinkajou named Vivo (voiced by Lin-Manuel Miranda (who also wrote all the songs in the movie). Kinkajous are cute. They look like monkeys, but are not primates at all. Vivo and his friend, Andrés Hernández are a musical duo who work a plaza in Havana, Cuba. Andrés plays the guitar and Vivo collects donations from spectators.
One day, their lives change when Andrés receives a letter from a famous singer, Marta Sandoval, that he knew years before. She is retiring from music and wants Andrés to come to Miami to perform with her in her last show. Andrés prepares to leave for Miami, and plans to take along a special song he has written for Marta, telling her how much he loves her.
Years before, when Andrés and Marta performed together on stage, Andrés decided not to tell Marta how he felt about her because she might sacrifice her musical career if she stayed with him. Vivo doesn't want to go to Miami, and goes off to be alone. Later, he decides he is being selfish and jealous, so he goes back to help Andrés pack for his trip. But Andrés dies during the night, and Vivo is devastated.
At a memorial service for Andrés, Vivo, a young girl, Gabi, who is a relative of Andrés offers to smuggle Vivo to Florida. This gives Vivo the idea of taking Andrés' song to Marta. He hides the sheet music in his hat and sneaks into a large bag that Gabi and her mother are taking back to Florida.
Vivo finds himself in Key West Florida with no idea how to get to Miami in time to find Marta before she finishes her last performance. The journey to Miami is filled with misadventures and dangers, including crocodiles and pythons. Vivo encounters both enemies and friends during this eventful journey. He and his friends prove to be brave and resourceful as they travel towards their destination.
The emotional scenes at the end of the film caught me by surprise. I guess the relationship established between the characters during their journey to Miami worked better than I realized. The scenes near the end of the movie are genuinely moving. This is something I had felt before in some Pixar films, but this a Netflix film made by Sony Pictures Animation.
The animation in the film is very effective, with some dream-like images that work very well in some scenes. The music is lively, and there are some catchy tunes here and there. It may not be as slick a production as some other animated films I've seen this year, but it is very effective on an emotional level. This film rates a B+.
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