Coco, 'Si!'; Olaf, No-Laff
December has always meant Christmas, a special time for parents and children; but in recent years, a new December tradition has made its bid to push Christmas aside as the most-anticipated December date for adults and kids. That new juggernaut is the Star Wars franchise; and after The Force Awakens (2015) & Rogue One (2016), expect this week to be all about The Last Jedi. But before your little Ray's, Fin's, and Kylo's invade your space and time, do look out for Coco, the latest animated feature from Disney Pixar. It's been showing for over a week now, so more than a review, this is a commentary about what passes as the Best and Worst of today's Disney.
A film about growing up, finding one's identity, pursuing your creative aspirations, and centered on family and value formation; one can see this is a tried and tested Disney formula - Miguel's genealogical quest reminiscent of Dory's. What Coco brings fresh to the table is conjuring up a child-friendly depiction of Death - utilizing Mexico's Day of the Dead tradition as a launch pad. Coco's afterlife is one punctuated by parties and outdoor concerts!
A rapturous thumbs up for how Disney manages to stay culture-sensitive, while dishing out the film's universal message. Besides using a host of Hispanic actors (Benjamin Bratt, Gael Garcia Bernal, and newcomer Anthony Gonzalez voicing Miguel), there is a realistic charm to the world-building of Santa Cecilia, Miguel's home town. Two of my sons, and they're 23 and 18 years of age, loved Coco, telling me that the story, animation, and music were their highlights.
My eldest son issues the warning that one should enter the Cinema a good thirty minutes AFTER the screening time, in order to miss the 'short' that precedes Coco. Olaf's Frozen Adventure should have never been thawed and brought to life! Or at least not this way. Running for twenty minutes, this is typical Disney cross-programming, but making a right mess of it this time. Olaf hails from the much-loved Frozen; so it's a shame to see Disney misfiring so badly by placing this as a lead-in to Coco. It just goes on for too long; especially for an audience wired for Coco. In the United States, it's already been yanked out from the theaters and turned into a TV special treat. It's even got a neat story about family traditions, but it just feels like we're being force-fed.
So do rush out to see Coco - but slow down (a lot) in order to miss Olaf! And that's 'no-laffing' matter.