Starring: Anthony Gonzalez, Gael Garcia Bernal, Benjamin Bratt
Director: Lee Unkrich, Adrian Molina
Miguel is a little boy who dreams of being a musician. But because on of his ancestors ran away and abandoned the family, music is banned, and Miguel is on track to join the families shoe-making business. On the night of Dia de los Muertos, Miguel figures out that his hero, a famous guitar player, is his lost relative, and he heads into the Land of the Dead to find him and get his blessing to follow his musical dreams.
This film is full of colour and life, with some sequences in the Land Of The Dead being stunningly beautiful. Pixar films never seem afraid to take on unusual and serious subjects with a light heart. Here, we are taken into a place where fathers abandon their children, skeletons make up most of the cast, and being forgotten by the living means permanent death. There’s even a murder. It’s a tricky one. And yet, on the whole, it really works as a film, and a children’s film at that. I love the theme of a child finding his roots and willing to do anything to be true to himself and follow his dreams. I also really liked the way family is portrayed in this film, too. Miguel’s family is very big and on the whole, they’re warm and kind but also with their own stories. They’re not one dimensional.
There’s something about this film that, as charming as it is, feels slightly off. It’s thoroughly enjoyable, and yet, I’m not sure if it will go down as a big Pixar classic. Time will tell. Perhaps it’s partly because it’s a film about music, and while the songs are good, they’re also a bit forgettable and not hugely toe tapping. Other films set in Mexico have music that makes you want to dance in the aisles, this does not.
But that said, it has a delightful dog sidekick, and an interesting and twisty plot. I liked the darkness of this film, and well as the bright colours. And it certainly has heart too, with a sweet ending that will make you smile. It’s wonderful to see an animation focused on Mexican people and culture, and actually made me want to learn a little bit more about the country and it’s traditions. On the whole, a delightful film with the unconventional plotting and heart that’s always made Pixar great.
See It If: you love Disney, Pixar or animation. It’s a little flawed, but definitely entertaining and full of life.