Coco, the latest animated film from Disney/Pixar, hits theaters tomorrow. Here’s what you should know before you take your kids!
1. What’s it about?
The protagonist, a boy named Miguel, comes from a family that has banned music completely, because his great-great-grandfather left his great-great-grandmother for a career as a musician and never came back, leaving his great-grandmother (now Mamá) Coco fatherless. But Miguel loves music, and wants nothing more than to play guitar like his idol Ernesto de la Cruz. On the Day of the Dead (Día de los Muertos), Miguel – though still alive – is magically transported to the land of the dead, and tries to find de la Cruz.
2. Will my kids and I like it?
Yes! Coco is a great film, with something to delight just about everyone. Solid story, great voice acting, and the superb visuals we’ve grown to expect from Pixar films. It has a bit of a slow-down in the middle, which is perhaps a bit more noticeable than it might otherwise be due to the especially rapid pace of the beginning and the end, but that’s about the only negative thing I can say about it.
It’s rated PG, but most kids can probably handle it. A large chunk of the movie takes place in the land of the dead, where everybody looks like a cartoony skeleton with eyes, hair, and clothes. There are some sad scenes, and some scary moments when Miguel’s life and other characters’ after-lives are in danger. There are also some mentions of how certain dead characters died, but I doubt they’ll upset too many kids.
3. Does it bring the feels?
Yes, you will want to bring your favorite tool for wiping away tears. They will not be tears of sadness like the kind you cried after the first 20 minutes of Up, but anyone not from Vulcan will get at least a little weepy at Coco.
4. How does it rank among Pixar films?
I think it’s time we stopped comparing all Pixar films to each other. It used to make sense, but it’s reached the point where it’s not unlike people in the 1930s comparing all Technicolor films. The studio that made them and the processes by which they were made are the only things that are similar between Coco and Cars 3, for example, so comparing them is a meaningless activity.
Coco is a great movie; full stop.
5. What about Olaf’s Frozen Adventure, the short that precedes the movie?
The preview screening of Coco I attended did not, unfortunately, include the short, so I can’t comment on it. Once I’ve seen the movie again in a regular screening, which I intend to do soon, I’ll come back and put useful information here.
6. Is it worth paying extra for 3D? What about IMAX?
I saw it in regular-size 2D, and it was such a rich experience I can’t imagine either 3D or IMAX adds much to it. 3D tends to lower the brightness level of a movie, though the effect is usually less noticeable in animated films; still, the events of Coco take place over one night, so it’s possible the 3D versions may miss something because of that. As far as IMAX goes, since as far as I know it’s only playing in IMAX 2D, that would probably be awesome, because it’s an absolutely gorgeous film.
7. Do I need to stay through the end credits for a bonus scene?
No. The first part of the end credits is fun to watch, and I recommend staying for it. After the roll starts, though, there’s nothing more to watch.
8. When’s the best time for a bathroom break?
As I mentioned above, the middle of the film does get (relatively) slow, so probably anytime after Miguel (the protagonist) meets Héctor and before he meets Ernesto de la Cruz would work. Anything you miss is not likely to make anything that happens later incomprehensible.
9. Will I want to see it again? Will my kids?
If you’re anything like me, and your kids are anything like mine, yes! I wanted to see it again the moment it ended, and only partly because I want to be able to concentrate more on the film’s beauty than its dialogue. Because this is one of the most beautiful films of any sort I’ve seen in a long time.
10. What toys should I expect my kids to ask for after they see the movie?
They, and probably you, will want a plush version of Dante, the Xolo dog who accompanies Miguel on many of his adventures, because Dante is awesome. I should warn you, too, that there is also a very good chance this movie will inspire your kids to ask for a guitar.
Disclosure: I attended a free screening of Coco. All opinions expressed here are my own.