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Movie Review: ‘Coco’ is a Sweet Mix of Music, Family, and Fantasy

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There was talk amongst the parents at the screening about that other animated film about the Mexican holiday, the Day of the Dead. It took them a moment to remember, but it was 2014’s The Book of Life. For approaching this mythology once more in animated form, Pixar’s Coco already has a comparison for that old argument amongst animated movies of which came first. Thankfully, Coco not only outshines The Book of Life in art and story but is surprisingly meaningful, emotional and perfectly timed for a Thanksgiving release, given the heavy themes of family.

coco-hector-miguel-singing-dancingIn a small Mexican village, the 12-year- boy Miguel Rivera (Anthony Gonzalez) has a dream of music, but one his family does not share. Music has apparently been a burden on the Rivera family, dating all the way back to great-great grandpa who left his family to pursue a music career. He is so despised by the family that his photo has been ripped from their Day of the Dead tribute and his name never spoken. The Riveras are more proud of their successful shoe business. All except Miguel, who’d instead pick up a guitar.

Aiming to play music at the local festival, he borrows the guitar of the famed singer/actor Ernesto de la Cruz (Benjamin Bratt), a famous man whom Miguel believes to be his great-great grandpa. It turns out the guitar magically sends him to the Land of the Dead, where the spirits of the dead reside without skin. To find his way back home, he needs the blessing of his ancestors, but the only ones present forbid him to go back and play music. Surely Ernesto will respect Miguel’s love of music to send him back.

One significant advantage that Coco has over The Book of Life is that there’s a more grounded vision of the Land of the Dead. Clear rules are established for how the afterlife functions. On the Day of the Dead, spirits can cross a bridge into the Land of the Living, but only if their picture is displayed by the family on that day. Not only can spirits not crossover if their photo isn’t placed in tribute, but they pass away to another realm for being forgotten. Visiting mortals cannot crossover either without a family blessing, and too long a visit will result in their death, as Miguel slowly starts turning into a skeleton. This creates a real goal and consequences for Miguel. There’s also enough of an incentive for the forgotten Hector (Gael García Bernal) to help him out for the trade of placing Hector’s portrait in tribute in the mortal world.

The tale is mostly a family drama with Miguel peeling back the mysteries of his lineage as he traverses the colorful world of the dead. Though some obvious twists are foreshadowed in the film’s opening exposition by Miguel, I was surprised how twisty and revealing the story became of the Rivera family’s history.There’s some fun to be had, as when Miguel outsmarts the LoD authorities by disguising himself as a skeleton and later teaming up with Hector for a musical performance. The little details of how this world works, from the facial recognition system for guiding spirits to the swanky clubs for elite souls, are fantastic and wondrous, even if there isn’t much an explanation how the neon spirit animals work. I guess you to slam some cute animals in there somewhere.

In the same way that Inside Out explored how it’s okay to feel sad, Pixar’s Coco stresses the importance of family and the remembrance of legacy. It’s a grand theme, but well-presented with gorgeous animation and heart so full that the touching climax is bound to make the audience cry. There are many animated films out there that can be classified as more kid-friendly than family friendly, but Coco is the very definition of a family film, featuring and acknowledging characters of all ages. It’s complex without being convoluted, silly without being frenetic and somber without being dark. This is Pixar at their finest, crafting stunning new worlds with powerful writing behind them.

[author title=”About the Author” image=”http://popstermedia.com/wp-content/uploads/2015/07/mark_mcpherson-300×221-150×150.jpg”]Movie Reviewer Mark McPherson has been all about movies since working at a video store in his youth. His talents range from video editing to animation to web development, but movies have always been his passion to write about.[/author]


Box Office

“Ralph” and “Grinch” Steal Slow Box Office Weekend

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Aside from the re-release of Schindler’s List, there is nothing new in the box office for the weekend. Seriously, there’s nothing. And I thought last weekend was slow. With no new films in the running, it’s pretty much a repeat as the box office takes a snow day.

Once again, no surprise, Ralph Breaks The Internet is still on top. In its third weekend, the animated Disney adventure grossed $16 million for the weekend and $140 million for its domestic total. It still has a ways to go to top its $175 million but it should be closing in soon. Also no surprise following closely behind is Dr. Seuss’ The Grinch, the computer-animated holiday comedy based on the book by Dr. Seuss. After five weekends, it’s still in the top 5, making another $15 million for the weekend and $223 million domestic total. Worth noting is that, despite this weekend being slow, the movie only took a 15% dip from last weekend. And you can bet it’ll be sticking around for the rest of December.

As for everything else, very few films moved from their spots with one exception. Green Book, the historical racial drama, is picking up steam and has moved up from #10 last weekend to #7 after being added to more than 100 more theaters. Good word of mouth is getting around about this film as its domestic total is now sitting at $19 million for being in less than 2,000 theaters after four weekends.

Check out the full box office results below:
Ralph Breaks The Internet ($16,141,000)
Dr. Seuss’ The Grinch ($15,175,000)
Creed II ($10,322,515)
Fantastic Beasts: The Crimes of Grindelwald ($6,805,000)
Bohemian Rhapsody ($6,000,000)
Instant Family ($5,600,000)
The Possession of Hannah Grace ($3,935,000)
Robin Hood ($3,585,000)
Widows ($3,175,000)
Green Book ($3,100,000)

Next weekend, the break is over and genre movies will be in full swing. Mortal Engines, a CGI-heavy fantasy, will debut in 3,000 theaters. The Mule, a new drug-related drama directed and starring Clint Eastwood, will premiere in 2,400 theaters. And Sony’s new animated superhero film, Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse, will be hitting 3,400 theaters. It’s a pretty much a sure bet that Spider-Man will take that weekend, given its PG-rated superhero appeal and the big word-of-mouth it’s getting from critic circles.


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“Ralph” Reigns Again on Slow Box Office Weekend

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We’re currently in the eye of the fall movie storm. All is fairly quiet this weekend. The only new release was that of a small horror film, The Possession of Hannah Grace. So small, in fact, that it only came in at #7 for the weekend with a gross of $6.5 million. As such, few films moved very far from their spots. Last weekend’s winner, the animated adventure Ralph Breaks The Internet, was once again on top, even though it wasn’t a very strong second weekend of $25 million, a 54% drop. Still, the film has made $119 million so far and is well on its way to covering its $175 million budget.

Surprisingly jumping up a spot is Dr. Seuss’ The Grinch, the latest animated film Illumination Studios based on the classic Christmas book. The film jumped up from #3 to #2, making $17 million with the domestic gross now up to $203 million. Creed II, the sequel to the Rocky spinoff, took a step down for its second weekend, grossing $16 million with a domestic total of $81 million. It’s no surprise that the biggest drop of the weekend was Fantastic Beasts: The Crimes of Grindelwald, the sequel to the Harry Potter spinoff. Due to low critic ratings and poor fan reactions, the film tumbled 61% with its domestic gross sitting at $134 million.

Ivo Nandi stars as Moscow Referee and Florian Munteanu as Viktor Drago in CREED II,
a Metro Goldwyn Mayer Pictures and Warner Bros. Pictures film.
Credit: Metro Goldwyn Mayer Pictures / Warner Bros. Pictures
© 2018 Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer Pictures Inc. and Warner Bros. Entertainment Inc.
All Rights Reserved.

View the full top 10 box office winner for the weekend below.

Ralph Breaks The Internet ($25,756,000)
Dr. Seuss’ The Grinch ($17,730,000)
Creed II ($16,832,863)
Fantastic Beasts: The Crimes of Grindelwald ($11,200,000)
Bohemian Rhapsody ($8,100,000)
Instant Family ($7,150,000)
The Possession of Hannah Grace ($6,500,000)
Robin Hood ($4,700,000)
Widows ($4,400,000)
Green Book ($3,900,000)

Next weekend is so sparse with new content that the biggest release is going to be an anniversary screening of Schindler’s List, hitting 1,000 screens. It’s a good time to take in some smaller releases as Mary Queen of Scots, Ben is Back, and Vox Lux will be having limited releases. So it’s safe to expect a repeat of this weekend’s trends in the box office.


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“Ralph” Breaks The Box Office, “Creed” Close Behind

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Thanksgiving week is a time for family and there were plenty out to the theater last week for an animated family picture. Ralph Breaks The Internet, the Disney-animated sequel to 2012’s video game adventure comedy Wreck-It Ralph, came in at #1 for the weekend with $55 million and $84 million since its debut on Wednesday. This puts it above the Disney studio’s previous Thanksgiving hit Moana, which had a 5-day total of $82 million.

Not too far behind is Creed II, the sequel to the Rocky spin-off starring Michael B. Jordan and Sylvester Stallone. The boxing sequel took in $35 million for the weekend and $55 million since Wednesday. This is a stronger opening than the first film which came in at $29 million for the weekend.

And it was slim leftovers for the two other debuts. Robin Hood, the latest action remake of the classic tale, came in at #7 with only $9 million for the weekend, $14 million since Wednesday. Green Book, a drama about a black singer in the racist south of America, came in at #9 for its expanded week to make $5 million for the weekend and $7 million for its domestic total.

The Crimes of Grindelwald is not fairing to well for its second weekend. The Harry Potter spin-off has dropped to #4 with a domestic weekend gross of $30 million, a 52% drop. The film still hasn’t cleared its $200 million budget with a domestic gross of $117 million and it looks like it may never cross that mark as we head into December with more genre titles. Beating it out for #3 is Dr. Seuss’ The Grinch, the theatrically animated adaptation by Illumination, that is proving to have great legs coming into the holiday season. Worth noting at #10 is A Star Is Born, its domestic total now having crossed $191 million to make it one of the most profitable films of the year.

View the full top 10 box office results for the weekend below:

Ralph Breaks The Internet ($55,672,000)
Creed II ($35,293,000)
Dr. Seuss’ The Grinch ($30,210,000)
Fantastic Beasts: The Crimes of Grindelwald ($29,650,000)
Bohemian Rhapsody ($13,855,000)
Instant Family ($12,500,000)
Robin Hood ($9,125,000)
Widows ($7,955,000)
Green Book ($5,443,000)
A Star is Born ($3,005,000)

Next weekend is, well, it’s pretty dead. So dead that a ghost movie is occupying the rather blank spot. Possession of Hannah Grace, a modest horror production, will be arriving in under 2,000 theaters. So it’s fair to say you can expect Ralph to breakthrough for another weekend of success.


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