COCO (2017)

This heart-warming, child-centred, Mexico-inspired fable about the power of music and the importance of family proves another smash for Pixar, with their legendary mix of unexpected sentimentality, high-stakes action, and stunning visual design (even better in 3D).

Miguel (Anthony Gonzalez) is born into a lower-class shoemaking family, whose motto professes they are shoe-makers “through and through”, and (unlike literally every other person in Mexico) hate even the mention of music. Despite this, Miguel dreams of being a musician, and especially idolises the late, great singer-guitarist Ernesto de la Cruz (Benjamin Bratt), widely known as “the greatest musician of all time”. On the Día de Muertos, Miguel inadvertently ends up visiting the other side, and needs to track down his deceased family members (all of whom also hate music) to help him get back home.

There are several, breathtakingly tender moments capturing musicians lost in music, which provide the emotional (and thematic) heart of the story. Songs by Kristen Anderson-Lopez and Robert Lopez (the duo behind Frozen’s “Let It Go”) cleverly take on new depth as the story progresses. Themes of family and loss are also dealt with in traditionally heartbreaking Pixar manner.

Children will respond to the gorgeous visuals of the land of the dead, including neon-coloured dragon-like alebrijes that act as spirit guides, and the rollicking romp of Miguel’s adventure. The stakes and wit are not perhaps as high as vintage Pixar, but pulling off a kids film based on Mexican traditions about dead people, in a way that’s not just educational but genuinely charming and even funny, is no mean feat. Musicians, bring tissues, and for everyone else, it’s Pixar doing what they do best.

COCO hits UK cinemas on 19 January, 2018.

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