Can You Sanely Compare Pixar’s New ‘Coco’ to ‘Avatar?’ Yes. Here’s Why

Written by Dennis D McDonald

How can you possibly compare a Pixar animated feature to something like ‘Avatar?” DENNIS D. MCDONALD finds out. Check out his Coco review here …

aNewDomain — If you love animated movies and pretty much anything produced by Pixar, you owe it to yourself to see Coco, which debuted in the US Thanksgiving weekend.

Even by Pixar standards, it is exceptional

The breadth of imagination, art, and emotion on display put to shame the fart-joke kiddy cartoons previewed last night and the way-too-long Frozen mini-movie.

The latter is cute and funny,  but it has the emotional depth of a Hallmark card — especially when you compare it to Coco.

In Coco, you meet an aspiring musician, Miguel, with about the worst problem a musician might face. His family has instituted an ancestral ban on music. To set it all right, he travels to the Land of the Dead to find his great-great-grandfather, a legendary singer.

The result is nothing short of astounding. The Pixar team has pulled off what probably appeared at one time to be impossible: To make a heartwarming family-oriented cartoon about death that is populated by a cast of thousands — of skeletons.

Add in slapstick, eye-popping color, astonishing visuals, great music, family conflict, plot twists, action and heartfelt emotion and you’ve got one heckuva show.

Though I’ll leave it to my Mexican-American friends and family to say whether the Mexican culture portrayed in COCO is accurate, the focus on family bond’s through time and space rings true over and over again. The family bonds theme is all over this flick. It runs through the movie until, finally, it culminates in one of Pixar’s trademarked music-suffused tear-inducing sequences.

By the time this rolls around the audience is ready and the simple rightness of this sequence and how it integrates emotional plot elements is nearly perfect.

After the movie I came away thinking, what films would I compare this with? Well, from a Pixar perspective I would place COCO in terms of imaginative world-building on the same level as, if not superior to, Inside/Out and Wall-E.

In terms of the live-action fantasy and science fiction genres, I would compare this with James Cameron’s AVATAR. 

Yes, Coco is that good. Truly.  It’s not just worth seeing. It’s a must-see.


For aNewDomain, I’m Dennis D. McDonald.

For aNewDomain, I’m Dennis D. McDonald.

An earlier version of this story ran on Dennis D. McDonald’s DDMCD site. Read it here.