Pixar is a never-ending machine of originality and evolution.  By the middle of their new film “Coco” from co-directors Lee Unkrich and Adrian Molina, tears began to fall, and not because of the standard cry-fest sessions they insert into all their films (at least it wasn’t the only reason); it was because the realization that Latin culture was being portrayed to the mainstream, on the big screen, and my 6-year-old daughter was there to experience it.  A marvelously crafted and meticulous film that matches its story with unbelievable animation.

Coco,” tells the story of Miguel (voiced by newcomer Anthony Gonzalez), a young boy who dreams of becoming an accomplished musician like his idol Ernesto de la Cruz (voiced by Benjamin Bratt), all with his family’s baffling generations-old ban on music.  Desperate to prove his talent, Miguel finds himself in the stunning and colorful “Land of the Dead” following a chain of mysterious events.  Along the way, he meets charming trickster Hector (voiced by Gael Garcia Bernal), and together, they set off on an extraordinary journey to unlock the real story behind Miguel’s family history.

Utterly genuine in concept, assembling, and execution, “Coco” casts a magical spell on its viewership, and makes us true believers in the human spirit.  As always, the kids are sure to enjoy it but adults will be dared to love it, giving into his comedy and warmth.  If you feel as though you’ve been tortured by what the animated slate of 2017 has offered you this year, “Coco’s” bold and vivacious wonders, that tell an engaging and captivating tale, is a phenomenon, acting as a piece of poetry, whose themes center on family and dreams.  It’s complex emotions and its reassuring message is more relevant than ever.

Miguel’s actions, while true, show a tangible development that may be hard for children to comprehend.  It also deals with some of the darkest plot drivers seen in a Pixar movie yet, circling betrayal, death, and murder.  We haven’t seen too much of that from the Disney/Pixar machine, or at least so blatantly spelled out for us.  Nonetheless, it packs a wallop and satisfying emotion for all to relish.

Michael Giacchino‘s three-dimensional music acts as a character, as you’ll fall in love with every note, chord, and lyric the film has to offer.  The music lingers long after the credits roll and it sets itself apart from any musically induced picture the year has delivered.

Coco” may not only be the animated film this year, but it’s making an aggressive run to be one of the very finest films of any medium this year.  Remarkably elegant and beautiful, “Coco” is ravishing and almost seductive in the way it entices you.  Not sure we’ve done enough good in our world to deserve such a gem.  Open your heart to its excellence.

“Coco” is distributed by Pixar and opens in theaters on Nov. 22!

GRADE: (★★★½)

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MOTION PICTURE | DIRECTOR |
LEAD ACTOR | LEAD ACTRESS | SUPPORTING ACTOR | SUPPORTING ACTRESS | 
ORIGINAL SCREENPLAY | ADAPTED SCREENPLAY | ANIMATED FEATURE |
PRODUCTION DESIGN | CINEMATOGRAPHY | COSTUME DESIGN | FILM EDITING | MAKEUP & HAIRSTYLING | SOUND MIXING | SOUND EDITING | VISUAL EFFECTS |
ORIGINAL SCORE | ORIGINAL SONG |
FOREIGN LANGUAGE | DOCUMENTARY FEATURE |