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I won’t pretend to be an aficionado of feature animation; there are many, many adults who appreciate the craft more than myself. But, since I now have a little girl – nearly four years old – I have perforce taken a crash course, and it’s – to my mind at least – pretty clear when one is not good, when one is good, and when one is very special. Coco is very special.
I’m also not particularly hip to Mexican culture, but the fact that Coco is already that country’s biggest box office hit of all time gives me confidence that it’s doing things right. It’s set in a village in Mexico and – most spectacularly and imaginatively – in the “land of the dead”, a realm taken very seriously in Mexican culture. It seems like the kind of speculative material that would be easy to screw up, and it is to Disney and Pixar’s credit that they’ve been bold enough to go there, with class, respect and ultimate integrity.
The land of the dead is populated by skeletons, but my little girl wasn’t scared, and she’s three. It’s beautiful – seriously beautiful – with an elegant story and at least two fantastic original songs. It’s also, for those of us who haven’t been to Mexico, a surprisingly informative cultural experience. There are heaps of gags – visual, dialogue-based and story-inspired – for the adults. The culturally authentic voice cast are all excellent.
My little angel can’t wait to see Coco again. She chirps its name with delight when she sees it on the side of a bus. She didn’t feel that way about Boss Baby, nor Ballerina – and that was about a ballerina. I think Coco will be a new animated classic, deservedly. The entire cinema-going population of Mexico can’t be wrong.