Coco ★★★½

By dint of being a movie centered around a Mexican family when Mexican families are being regularly vilified on the national stage by the President of the United States, COCO feels pointed, almost calibrated to push back against that toxic strain of racism. On the other hand, Dia de los Muertos (which Disney tried to trademark!) is a real holiday with legitimate spiritual importance to believers, and the co-opting of its imagery and pageantry by non-practitioners is something that a segment of the Mexican/Mexican-American population isn't entirely comfortable with. Responses I'm seeing online have been unanimous so far that COCO's importance as representation of a Mexican family is far outweighing any insensitive appropriation. It's not going to pass any purity tests, but it's also not as crass or potentially damaging as it could have been.

I was happy to let the political goggles slide off (after that interminable Frozen short which belongs in a gulag for crimes against time), and enjoy watching the Pixar animators invent challenges for themselves like "how to create a thousand pin-points of computer generated candle light that would then be illuminated by nearby fireworks." Remarkable, as always.

I wish the writers were as committed to creating challenges for themselves. A third act twist makes a complex conflict a bit too easy for Miguel to resolve morally and emotionally. Master manipulators they are, though, and by the end I was too busy choking back tears to care.

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