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There are not enough superlatives to go around for “Coco,” a true masterpiece not only of Pixar animation but also of storytelling. One of the finest movies of 2017 also happens to be animated and suitable for family viewing.

The story centers on Día de los Muertos, the Day of the Dead, which is being observed in a Mexican community.

The focal character of the story – sort of, and I can say no more about that or it might create a spoiler – is Miguel Rivera (voice of Anthony Gonzalez), a boy who has grown up in a family where music has remained forbidden for generations.

He lives in an extended family with his great-grandmother, whose father left her behind to become a traveling musician.

Miguel cannot help himself: He longs to play the guitar, and so he does, in secret, with only a street dog named Dante (get it? Dante … in a story about someone crossing over into the land of the dead?) to keep him company.

Miguel adores the late, legendary performer Ernesto De la Cruz (Benjamin Bratt,) who is so popular that his likeness, complete with the musician’s motto “Seize your moment,” has been placed in the town. Miguel practices hard so that he can be as good as his idol.

In fact, Miguel becomes determined to compete in a local talent competition. But when his family forbids that he perform, he runs away and ends up in the land of the dead, where he meets all kinds of characters in his quest to return home.

Directors Lee Unkrich and Adrian Molina have helmed one of the most touching stories of all time. This will wring the hearts of everyone who sees this life-affirming story about the Day of the Dead.

While one of the movie's major themes involves the transition into death, it is handled so tastefully and sweetly that it isn’t frightening: It simultaneously emphasizes the importance of remembering those loved ones who have passed before.

To say that the animation is amazing is an understatement. The land of the dead has marvelous details and glorious colors (I saw it in 3D and that further enhanced its beauty.)

The memorable songs are a welcome addition. The beautiful tune “Remember Me,” performed by Bratt as De la Cruz, plays in various incarnations throughout the film.

As you laugh, cry and remember, please stay for the credits for a brief flourish – not an extra scene – that further emphasizes the importance of remembering.

"Coco" is unforgettable.

Papa Jesus Rosas y Torres: Te recordaré.


Film critic/reporter since 1985 at Quad-City Times. Society of Professional Journalists, Broadcast Film Critics Association and Alliance of Women Film Journalists member. Member of St. Mark Lutheran Church.