Pixar’s 2016 was something of a mixed bag, having landed a true-blue blockbuster with Finding Dory, but then missing out on a coveted Oscar nomination. They’ll get back in the saddle in 2017 with Coco, a vibrant fantasy about the power of music, family, and remembrance of those lost to us. In the film, a lonely young boy finds a link to the past through an enchanted stringed instrument and sets off on an incredible journey with an animal companion, encountering all manner of dreamlike wonders (along with a monster or two) on the way. It bears mentioning at this point that this film is, in fact, not Kubo and the Two Strings.
Coco transposes Kubo’s Japanese location to Mexico, for a story imbued with the flavor of the local culture. Young Miguel (voiced by newcomer Anthony Gonzalez) idolizes the guitar virtuoso and movie star Ernesto de la Cruz (voiced by Benjamin Bratt), hoping to one day attain his mastery of the instrument. But after purloining his idol’s enchanted six-string, Miguel finds himself flung into the spooky Land of the Dead, where he meets a trickster by the name of Hector (voiced by Gael Garcia Bernal) and sets off on a grand mission to find a way home and clarify his connection to Ernesto, too. It looks like they might be related, but the trailer plays that one relatively close to the vest.
The film will dance into theaters on November 22, following Pixar’s release of Cars 3 on June 16. Though the subject material smacks of Kubo, there’s no talking around the eye-popping visuals on display in the trailer. The Land of the Dead is quite a sight to behold, and the nimble guitar plucking is hard to resist as well. More than anything, it’s good to see Pixar pursuing an original concept. More of this, fewer bills-paying Cars sequels.