What Did Richard Crouse Think? It’s a weekly game played on NewsTalk 1010’s Jim Richards Show. It’s simple. Richard gives the synopsis of a new movie and Jim and others try and figure out if Richard liked it or hated it.
A weekly feature from from ctvnews.ca! The Crouse Review is a quick, hot take on the weekend’s biggest movies! This week Richard looks at “Coco,” the festive flick “The Man Who Invented Christmas” and Roman J. Israel, Esq.
Richard sits in with CTV NewsChannel anchor Marcia MacMillan to have a look at the Pixar film “Coco,” the Vietnam reunion movie “Last Flag Flying” and the festive flick “The Man Who Invented Christmas.”
Anthony Gonzalez, the star of the new Pixar film Coco, has spent one-third of his life working on the project.
“It was a very long process,” said the 13-year old actor. “I auditioned when I was nine years old. I actually got to go to Pixar headquarters in Oakland when I was 10.
“I started doing the scratch voice, where they put my voice under the character to see what it looks like when I was 10. Eleven is when I got cast so I started going in more often to Pixar and doing the voice. At 12 I was still doing some voices. At the end of 12 I felt my voice was changing!”
In Coco he plays Miguel, a 12-year-old aspiring musician in a family with a generations-old ban on anything musical. During his village’s Day of the Dead celebrations he breaks into the ornate crypt of Ernesto de la Cruz, the world’s greatest musician, to steal the late singer’s guitar.
Then something strange happens. Guitar in hand, he finds himself transported to the colourful world of the Land of the Dead. If he can get de la Cruz‘s blessing he can go back to the world of the living and be a musician, but first he will learn the real story behind his unusual family history.
Gonzalez worked on the project for years without knowing if he would appear in the final film. “Every time they would tell me I was going to Pixar I would get so excited because it is a paradise there,” he said. “The food there is amazing, the Pixar store is just awesome and they have a big soccer field and I love to play. Every time I went to Pixar I would also be happy because I would miss school.
“When I was 11, it was around Christmas, and I went to do scratch voices. The director, Lee Unkrich, told me they had a present for me. I was so excited and I opened it and it was this big, wonderful piece of artwork that said, ‘You got the part.’”
Gonzalez has been performing in front of people since he was four years old. “I wasn’t shy,” he said. “It’s fun singing and acting. I can be free. I can express feelings when I am singing and when I act I can be stuff I never thought I could be.”
Coco has afforded Gonzalez the chance to follow his dream. He gets to travel to promote the movie — “Today I had poutine for lunch,” he enthused in his Toronto hotel room.
“It was the best thing I ever had. Who knew that French fries, bacon and gravy and cheese was a perfect mix?” — and more importantly, he gets to do what he loves. He hopes the movie will encourage other kids to follow their dreams.
“Miguel could be a role model for kids,” Gonzalez said. “Miguel in the movie really fights for what he wants. He wants to be a musician and no obstacles will stop him. He doesn’t let anyone or anything stop him from what he wants to do. I feel many kids will look up to him; kids who want to share their talent with the world.”
The Mexican tradition of honouring their deceased loved ones on Day of the Dead forms the backbone, both visually and emotionally, of the new Pixar film “Coco.”
Miguel Rivera (Anthony Gonzalez) is a 12-year-old aspiring musician and devoted fan of the “world’s greatest musician,” the late, great Ernesto de la Cruz (Benjamin Bratt). Trouble is, his family doesn’t approve. In fact they have a generations–old ban on anything musical stemming from Miguel’s great-great grandfather, a guitar player who chose music over his young family. They are, we’re told, “the only family in Mexico who hates music.” Still, Miguel can’t let his dream of making music go. He studies de la Cruz’s films and records, learning them note-for-note.
In his village Day of the Dead celebrations are being prepared. Photos of loved ones are placed on altars in hopes that relatives who have passed into the spirit world will come back to visit and enjoy the festivities.
In the village square a talent show draws a huge crowd. Miguel is desperate to perform, but needs a new guitar. Keeping the words of his hero in mind—Don’t let anything stand in your way!—he breaks into de la Cruz’s ornate crypt to steal the late singer’s guitar when something strange happens. Guitar in hand, he finds himself transported to the colourful Day of the Dead spirit world just in time to attend de la Cruz’s spectacular show. If he can get de la Cruz‘s blessing he can go back to the world of the living and be a musician but first he must learn the real story behind his unusual family history.
“Coco” is packed with music but it isn’t a musical. Characters don’t suddenly burst into song. Instead, the songs—and there are a few of them—are set pieces, deftly woven into the fabric of the story. The stand-out tune, “Remember Me,” written by the “Frozen” team of Kristen Anderson-Lopez and Robert Lopez, is heard throughout and used particularly effectively in the film’s tear-jerking finale.
Miguel’s love of music is the film’s McGuffin, the thing that drives the story, but “Coco” is more about the importance of family. Pixar has found a way to embroider a familiar kid’s movie motif with deeper messages about remembrance and the passing of time.
“Finding Nemo” and “Bambi” aside, mortality is not a big topic in children’s movies. “Coco,” however, embraces it; weaving an interesting story that toggles back-and-forth between the land of the living and dead. It celebrates the vibrancy of the Día de los Muertos celebrations, complete with skeletons in dazzlingly costumes and sugar-skulled characters aplenty that are kid friendly in a “Nightmare Before Christmas” kind of way. “The Walking Dead” this ain’t.
Visually “Coco” is spectacular. Whether it is the intricately realized skeleton characters or the perfect sheen on the water Miguel dives into, once again Pixar proves to be ahead of the pack in terms of bringing pixels and terabytes of information to imaginative life.
“Coco” is a heartfelt tribute to Mexican culture but more than that it is a universal story about the importance of family that is heartfelt but never saccharine.