Directed by Lee Unkrich.
Featuring the voice talents of Anthony Gonzalez, Gael Garcia Bernal, Benjamin Bratt, Alanna Ubach, Renee Victor, Ana Ofelia Murguia, and Edward James Olmos.
Pixar’s Golden Globe-winning Coco comes to Blu-ray in an edition that includes copious bonus materials, along with a rich presentation of the movie. Pixar keeps producing hits, and this one resonates emotionally more than many of the studio’s more recent releases.
Is Pixar capable of producing a good old-fashioned flop? Even their films that I haven’t been completely enamored with, such as the Cars series, still do well enough at the box office to keep the machine going.
I suppose they probably never will, as long as they keep their machine well-oiled and retain long-time talent like Lee Unkrich, who directed Coco. (Fun fact: I saw Unkrich going into a restaurant in Berkeley once and was quite thrilled at the sighting – no one I was with had a clue who he was. Alas.)
Based around the Mexican holiday the Day of the Dead, Coco tells the story of Miguel, the great-great-grandson of the title character, whose father abandoned his family when she was three to pursue a career as a guitarist. Coco developed an aversion to music as a result, and that attitude carried down to Miguel’s parents. However, Miguel keeps a guitar in a hiding spot and worships Ernesto de la Cruz, a long-deceased actor and singer who is revered throughout Mexico.
Miguel soon stumbles upon the revelation that Ernesto was Coco’s father, and when he steals the famous singer’s guitar from his mausoleum to participate in a talent show, the theft sends him to the Land of the Dead. He’s become cursed for stealing from the dead, so he must figure out how to return to his own world before sunrise or become a permanent resident.
While trying to figure out how to get to Ernesto’s underworld home to get help, Miguel meets down-on-his-luck Hector, who accompanies him on his adventure. Miguel achieves his goal sooner than you might think, but a clever twist propels the story in a new direction and sets up the tale for an ending that left me thinking there must have suddenly been a lot of dust in the room.
Pixar continues to push the computer animation envelope as far as it can, and their talents are on full display here. The environments are rich and textured, and there are moments that feel like they could have been lifted out of a live-action film. In addition, while any movie made by WASPy Americans and set in a different culture could easily be prone to cringe-worthy moments, I detected none. There’s clear reverence for Mexican culture and traditions throughout Coco. Perhaps it can reverse some of the bigotry unleashed by a certain someone’s Presidential campaign.
This Multi-Screen Edition of the movie features the film on DVD and Blu-ray platters, along with a second high-def disc that has most of the bonus features. A code for a digital copy of the movie is included too. The bonus features on the movie Blu-ray include:
- Commentary: Unkrich, co-director and co-screenwriter Adrian Molina, and producer Darla Anderson talk about a variety of subjects, including how the idea for the film came about and the development process, the research that went into it, and more.
- Welcome to the Fiesta (2 minutes): A short film that served as a proof of concept for the full one. Unkrich, Molina, and Anderson provide a commentary for this one too.
- Mi Familia (10 minutes): Miguel’s extended family doesn’t get a lot of screen time, aside from the deceased ones he meets in the Land of the Dead, but this piece digs into them a bit more and talks about traditional Mexican family dynamics.
- Dante (6 minutes): A dog Miguel meets on the street accompanies him to the Land of the Dead, and this featurette explains how he came about.
- How to Draw a Skeleton (3 minutes): A quick how-to by a Pixar artist who shows how to draw skeletons by relying on simple shapes.
The second Blu-ray contains the rest of the bonus features:
- A Thousand Pictures a Day (20 minutes): Unkrich and the rest of his filmmaking crew took a trip to Mexico to better understand the country, and this featurette chronicles the experience.
- The Music of Coco (13 minutes): The songs are authentic too, of course, and you’ll learn more about that here.
- Land of Our Ancestors (6 minutes): This is a quick look at the role the Land of the Dead plays in Mexican culture and how it influenced the version seen in the film.
- Fashion Through the Ages (8 minutes): Of course Pixar wouldn’t blow off their costume research. Here’s how they approached it.
- The Real Guitar (3 minutes): A brief glimpse of the design work put into the guitar that Miguel steals.
- Paths to Pixar: Coco (11 minutes): Various crew members talk about their childhood dreams and what led them to jobs at Pixar.
- How to Make Papel Picado (2 minutes): The traditional Mexican paper decoration plays a role in the beginning of the film, and this is a short look at how it’s made.
- You Got the Part! (2 minutes): A brief piece about Anthony Gonzelez, who voiced Miguel.
- Deleted scenes (33 minutes): Unkrich and Molina introduce seven deleted scenes that are, as is almost always the case with animated films, shown in their original storyboard versions.
This release features a solid complement of bonus materials, which is nice in an era where studios sometimes skimp on that department. If you’re a Pixar fan, this is worth a purchase, even a blind one.
Flickering Myth Rating – Film: ★ ★ ★ ★ / Movie: ★ ★ ★ ★