ibbi’s review published on Letterboxd:
For me it seems like forever since the once flawless and unstoppable Pixar made a real, genuine, undisputed winner. 2015’s much lauded Inside Out proved a bold attempt to dive almost Bergman like into the subconscious mind, to tell an almost adult story through the guise of a childrens film, to dress up with funny characters and vivid colours the more gloomy, troubling, foreboding thoughts that loomed under the surface. Sadly, on that occasion the entire bold enterprise was sold out at the last by a final act that took the cheap cop out, and gave into to pandering to the younger viewers attracted by the bells and whistles of its production rather than those perhaps more interested in what it actually had to say.
3 years down the line the attempt has once again been made to tell a story deeper of intent than your average animated effort, in that way the movie is almost like a throwback to Disney efforts of days gone by, complete with adorable animal sidekick, and faith in its younger audience to handle the darker elements of its story without being molly coddled. Coco, long time Pixar stalwart Lee Unkrich’s directorial follow up to the not unsimilarly minded Toy Story 3, is an infinitely more successful effort to tell a story appealing to all given that it thankfully lacks the traitorous finale that chopped Inside Out down before the finish line.
All the credit in the world must go to the screenplay, penned by Adrian Molina and Matthew Aldrich, which manages to tell a complete story entirely true to itself from beginning to end without cheap resolutions. In fairness, the ideas behind the film are generally less on the dark side than the aforementioned Inside Out’s were, but its preoccupation with mortality is not an easy subject to explore as comprehensively as is done here without making concessions to infants. The fact they pull it off as well as they do is admirable in itself, but it’s the movies added ability to weave into its web all the many things on its mind, from the benefits and foibles of family, to the power of art, the nature of celebrity, and potential costs of success all layered without slightest fuss into proceedings without any notable detractions from the overall narrative being laid down that renders the movie the greatest thing (easily) that PIxar has done since Unkrich last sat in the directors chair. It juggles so much without ever feeling muddled or tripped up by contradiction.
Couple that fully formed piece of writing, a childrens movie totally lacking in condescension, populated by characters fully rendered with the complications of humanity (none of the major players here are defined outright by either goodness or badness, best intentions often muddied by questionable actions), with the gorgeous visuals, and wonderful songs, and Coco is as good a movie, more certainly as appealing a movie to as wide an audience, as you’ll be likely to see any time soon.