Coco (Pixar)

Another movie results in another home run for the Babe Ruth of family friendly cinema.

Pixar’s latest effort “Coco” erases any skepticism regarding the company’s ability to return to form following weak sequels and the subpar 2015 original “The Good Dinosaur.”

Born to a family of shoeshiners, 12-year-old Miguel Rivera (Anthony Gonzalez) aspires to make feet tap instead of shine. Unfortunately, Rivera’s family detests music after his idol and perceived great-great grandfather Ernesto De La Cruz (Benjamin Bratt) abandoned the family to pursue superstardom.

Following De La Cruz’s motto of “seize your moment,” Miguel embarks on an otherworldly journey to pursue musical dreams.

As usual, Pixar showcases excellence in plot execution. The writing opens with inviting charm and humor before maturing into themes of sacrifice, legacy, death and family importance.

The storyline curves into an excellent plot twist. The swerve is an emotional haymaker, hitting viewers’ hearts with pinpoint accuracy. Clever storytelling ensures that the punch is not telegraphed.

The setting is just as dynamic as the plot. Co-directors Lee Unkrich and Adrian Molina showcase Pixar’s grandest visual effort. That is impressive for a company revered for innovative imagery over the last 23 years.

Every scene features an array of bright colors and high attention to detail. For example, Pixar Cloth and Tailoring Lead Emron Grover said that it took three years to perfect getting clothes to interact with the computer-generated skeletons.

Make no bones about it, Pixar should have zero difficulty marketing skeletal characters as popular Christmas toys. Skeletons compensate for their lack of skin with an abundance of charisma.

While the entire cast performs well, Gonzalez stands out.

The 12-year-old greets the role of his young life (and potentially entire career) without trepidation. Gonzalez seems equally comfortable singing as he is delivering lines.

Supporting actors splendidly surround Rivera and give skeletons lively voices.

Skeletons are prominent due to the movie centering around Dia de los Muertos (Day of the Dead). Mexican culture gives this film a distinct flavor that enriches the picture.

It is nice in today's political climate to have a heartwarming tale that promotes diversity instead of bashing it. In the process, "Coco" smartly avoids political commentary.

Similarly, though career vs family life is a subplot, the issue is handled respectfully and provokes thought instead of feminist or misogynistic attacks.

This film does not possess any glaring weaknesses. In fact, "Coco" should receive serious consideration as one of the top five Pixar films.

Though a lofty distinction given Pixar's pedigree, acclaim is deserved.

Rating: 5/5

STUART STALTER is a Features Reporter for The Vidette. He can be contacted at Follow him on Twitter at @VidetteStuS

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