Movie Review — Titanic

Is there any movie more touching and exciting than Titanic? And the first time you watch it, it’s completely unexpected. I didn’t even want to see this in the theater, and resisted for months. Fool that I am, I figured, “Yeah, it sinks. I know what happens. Why see it?

I was never so glad to be so wrong. The hype was deserved. The small, interpersonal story is so damn good you even forget the ship is going down forever, that thousands of people will die in sub-freezing water for no other reason than White Star Lines’ vanity. Man, I sobbed for the entire final act at my first viewing. Some scenes — like seeing the old couple, terrified, holding each other in bed as the waters rise — still make the tears flow. And I hold my breath as Rose and Jack do on the far stern, when they are sucked into the ocean. (We’ll just call that my 4D interactive experience. I do this in The Abyss too.)

The heart of the story is Rose and Jack: actors DiCaprio and Winslet exhibit charming charisma, chemistry, and commitment to their forbidden inter-class love affair.

The sparkling James Horner soundtrack helps, as well as the indelible visuals of the gigantic, “unsinkable” ship. The big screen viewing’s sense of scale draws you right now. DVDs don’t do it justice.

Bill Paxton’s framing story adds the perfect storytelling device, bridging past and present in a poignant way, making the heroes, villains, and tragic deaths more meaningfully real. The old decayed ship on the sea floor morphs into the Ship of Dreams, where the “the china had never been used. The sheets had never been slept in. ” You just get chills. It’s a storytelling triumph: James Cameron went to extraordinary lengths (and expense) to film the actual submerged remains, bringing us to that forbidding, painful, fascinating setting.

This sh!t happened. A cascade of small mistakes, human hubris, and major design oversights led to over 1500 people dying horribly, unnecessarily, in the far North Pacific on April 15, 1912.

Through the fabulous medium of movies, at their best, you get to feel and care for real history, even if the two main characters here are fictional. I love this movie so much that I now devour any books, movies, or museum exhibits on the Titanic. Yes, I do.

Does this movie need RunPee? Um, do sharks swim? YES. It’s really really really long. Loooooong. So long that it needs two DVDs to play on a home theater. If Titanic came out now, we’d probably have to have four or more Peetimes…a human bladder can only go so long. (But my heart will go on…)

Movie Grade – A+

Movie Review – The Terminator

The Terminator is one of the truly perfect films in the science fiction genre. Sure, there are temporal paradox/causality loop issues, but you have to handwave that and go along with the premise. And why not? If you’re going to tell a time travel story about what happens when the singularity occurs — and it turns out AI cyborgs decide to eradicate Man — it doesn’t get better than this. Argue all you like, Asimov fans. šŸ˜‰

This is heart-pounding action with a bit of sweet, wistful romance, some humor, magnificent chase scenes, a great urban 1980s setting, fatal mistakes by a rookie Sarah Connor, sardonic wisdom from the young, war-hardened time traveler, and a really scary unstoppable killing machine.

Everyone showed a spirited commitment to their unlikely roles. There are some interesting early ‘cameos’, like Bill Paxton as a young punk. I still have a crush on Michael Biehn’s Kyle Reese (who played the equally awesome but essentially same character in the fantastically-scary-but-deliciousĀ Aliens film), and Linda Hamilton will always be my Sarah Connor. Finally, Arnold, as the Terminator, was a revelation (his entire acting and subsequent political career really kicked off right here).

Some lines might be hokey to modern ears, but I love it all, after all this time, and quote them in daily life. (Here’s three quotes, offhand: “Come with me if you want to live.” “That’s what he does! That’s ALL he does!… And he absolutely will not stop…ever, until you are dead!” And, of course, “I’ll be back.” Duh.)

There’s also an interestingly mechanized score by Brad Fiedel, with the subtle thrumming theme of the Terminator lingering as an iconic sound, recognizable through the entire franchise. (We can debate the various merits of the other Terminator movies/TV shows in the comments section below.)

When the exoskeletal version of the T-800 rises from the flames, it’s a horrifying moment. (Although, if you were aware at all of James Cameron movies, you would expect his signature ‘fake-out’ endings. But hey, they do work.) The scene where a wounded Sarah kills the crawling death robot is gripping, chilling, and deeply satisfying. (“You’re terminated, f@cker.” Yeah.)

The final moment in Mexico is superbly understated, ominous, frightening, and strangely hopeful. “There’s a storm coming.” “I know.” And now I have goosebumps. An enduring film, worthy of RunPee’sĀ Classic Movie Hits List.

Movie Grade – A+

Movie Review – Downsizing

I’m a little annoyed at Downsizing. The trailers presented this as a lightweight, fluffy comedy about being resized to five inches tall (in order to use less planetary resources). Great! Except this isn’t actually a comedy, and you barely get the sense of being shrunk. After the first half hour, it may as well be a drama about regularly sized people. The funny elements come to a screeching halt and never resume.

I feel like Matt Damon tricked me into seeing an environmental polemic, with little-to-no sci fi elements. Not my idea of fun tonight. I expected a story about how unusual life would be in a really different, unique scenario. What a cool idea — you can live like a prince with the abundant resources now available to you! A little heads up from the studio would have been nice, letting us know this was a serious story about politics. Gotta mentally pick movies for the mood! Grrr.

Kudos for presenting scenes in the film with forced perspective, to make the viewer feel disoriented. Some of the sets looked like toy models, which was no accident. I noticed a lot of interesting filmation choices, and props obviously made to give viewers the sense of normal proportions being off. Some places looked like adorable miniature sets, which worked well.

There were also (mostly) scenes where nothing seemed small at all. Those were frustrating, since the plot became, out of nowhere, all about race and poverty. Again, great if you’re in the mood. I prefer my entertainment to lift me out of sad reality, and make me smile a while. This film WON’T.

NOTE to Mr. Damon: please stop it. I’m happy to see your movies if the studios present them accurately. No more pet satires to make us ‘think”, disguising themselves as light fare. This isn’t the first time this year (Suburbicon comes to mind).

Anyway. This film didn’t go near where it should have gone, and I’m kind of leery of Damon now. It seems he’s doing a lot of sardonic projects examining senseless violence, race issues, or some other meaningful, topical theme. I could have seen one of the many comedies out this week, and gone home happy instead.

Movie Grade: C+

Movie Review – Jumanji 2: Welcome to the Jungle

This “sequel” version of Jumanji is adorable and funny. Predictable, yes, but the story is based on a video game plot, so it’s kind of a baked-in thing.

It’s also bit too pat in how each teenage character gets the perfect game avatar to grow as a person, but this is yet another thing that can be explained away in-universe: it’s a magic game, and that’s what it does. So I guess we can make allowances for this too. It’s all in good fun to service the adventure story.

This movie is very like a fantasy-version of The Breakfast Club, updated for the cell-phone/video game era. It’s got detention, stereotypical teens from different cliques, and the theme is an exploration of how their characters learn to work together. They become close through their experiences. So, yeah, the same concept.

The plot is paper-thin, which is, again, part of the conceit. What the film really sells are the sweet character interactions, tons of gorgeous visuals, lots of humor, and the swashbuckling tone. I’ll say it: this could become a lightweight adventure/humor classic. We’ll see, over time. The audience enjoyed it — they were laughing and clapping throughout. There’s also a good message for young people about tolerance and acceptance. Nothing world-changing, but I’m glad I got to see this.

Everyone in the film was just great — the actors seemed like they had a blast. Jack Black was fantastic, and I normally don’t enjoy his brand of broad humor. He had the obviously funny part, but didn’t oversell it, even when teaching “Martha” how to flirt. Dwayne Johnson was super playful, and pulled off a believably bashful teen. Kevin Hart was a crack-up as the “backpack guy.” Karen Gillan has nice comedic timing, and it was good to see her actual face without the blue makeup of Nebula from Guardians of the Galaxy. At some points she still channeled Nebula, but her physicality as a warrior served her well in both roles. Everyone played off each other very well. The ensemble was just too damn cute, and they knew it.

Do you need to see the original Jumanji to follow along? In a word, no. Somehow the old one never pinged on my radar. I think I should catch it now; Jumanji 2 was that much fun. I laughed almost the whole time, and enjoyed these veteran actors doing their campy best of reviving the old “body swap” tale. It made me forget about life for a few hours, and that’s what a movie can do at its best.

Movie Grade: A-

Movie Review – The Last Jedi

It’s too soon to know how I feel about this latest installment to the Star Wars saga. A lot happens, at a brisk pace. We have fleeting introductions to a bunch of brand-new characters we never get to know; why they rounded up well-known actors for little more than extended cameos is beyond me. It’s a long movie, but maybe a lot of character development was cut anyway. I wouldn’t mind a Director’s Edition, like we saw in the Lord of the Rings trilogy.

There’s a great deal of humor, but while some of it’s clever, the rest is somewhat more goofy than usual for this series. People at opening night really got into everything, though, applauding, laughing, squealing at certain appearances (no spoilers!). Definitely everyone enjoyed themselves in a totally packed theater (sold out across the nation, apparently). At least the critters are “good cute”, instead of overly cutesy, which is nice. (Porgs! Crystal Foxes!) The blue milk “cow” was admittedly very strange, but did harken back to Luke’s moisture-farming childhood. All the scenes on Luke’s planet were hugely pretty and interesting. The island scenes even had a Degobah flavor, while looking nothing like a swamp. Nicely done. In spite of trailers spoiling a lot of it, those were my favorite scenes.

Everything with Luke Skywalker…well, I’d describe those as magical. Riveting, even, as it should be. Mark Hamill absolutely carried the film and deserves a special shout out. It warmed my heart to see him back in action, in both grumpy and heroic modes.

Rey and Kylo were great, and I liked seeing them interact again. Rey did a bit better, with actual character development. Kylo was kind of stuck at the same emo place we saw him before. His parts with Rey were highlights, though — they have a great rapport! I hope to see more of it, next time. The big fight scene (being vague here on purpose) was excellent.

Poor Finn doesn’t come across as well as he did in The Force Awakens, and he was such a bright light in that film. I think having him separated from Rey and Poe made it problematic, chemistry-wise. Boyega did so well interacting with Ridley and Isaac.Ā This time his sub-plot felt flat and extraneous. It could have been the writing. I’m not sure yet.

Carrie Fisher’s post-death swan song finalized in a strong way, and that was a huge relief. I don’t know how they’ll bring her character to a resolution in the last film of the Skywalker Saga, but it was a shock to see the actress “live” here, after her untimely demise a year ago. I worried it might feel tacky or forced. It definitely worked. She has a lot to do, and did it well. I think Our Princess would be very happy with this movie.

So, a good installment, definitely superior to the Prequels — but I’m not sure yet where I’d rank it among the others. It’s probably for the best anyway to think a bit on The Last Jedi before passing judgment. When you build something up so much in your mind for so long, better thoughts parse (or parsec?) out after time passes.

I need a second and third viewing. It took me a year to figure out where to place Rogue One, although I was so happy with The Force Awakens that I instantly gave it 3rd place. This series has been so plagued with disappointment. I don’t think Star Wars is done yet, by any means, and I’m not a hater of The Last Jedi at all. But I may not be a huge fan of director Rian Johnson.

NOTE on the 3D version: Only a few scenes made 3D worthwhile, but it wasn’t noticeably darker, as can happen with those glasses. 3D really only came into play at the end battle on the salt planet, with the red soil, and in some adorable Porg shots. I didn’t notice much else. Ultimately, I wouldn’t shell out for the extra money for a 3D showing. If you’re a huge fan, consider 3D for a one-time viewer experience; otherwise stay with 2D.

Movie Grade: A –

Read RunPee Jilly’s Pre-‘Last Jedi’ SW Movie Rankings.

Ranking The Star Wars Films

From Runpee Jilly’s “Certain Point of View “…

Suffice to warn you now, there are SPOILERS ahead, through to Rogue One.

  1. The top movie is easy: Empire Strikes Back. It’s got everything: adventure, humor, romance, solid space action that still holds up after all this time, and outrageous reveals.Ā Ā I never get tired of watching this one. I couldn’t count how many times I’ve seen it.
  2. A New Hope runs very closely to the number one spot – clipping its heels, as it were. It started the whole mythology and adventure in a well told opening story. It’s almost perfect. But the “official” name, A New Hope, is just lame. This movie will always be Star Wars to me. (And here I show my age. Yes, I was 12 in the theaters for Star Wars, and waited in those huge lines to see it over and over again.)
  3. The Force Awakens – I was so impressed with TFA. I wanted to cry and fly with happiness. It was Star Wars to me, finally! After a long few decades of slogging through disappointment from the prequels, the joyous universe I first fell for was back. The new characters were fantastic, the humor worked, and everything was oh-so-pretty. I’m an absolute fan. While some say – correctly – this is a rehash of A New Hope, I see that as a plus. The fun was baked in, and it felt like coming home.
  4. Rogue One – Unlike the previous movie, Rogue One was not fun, joyous, or happy. I mean (SPOILERS), everyone dies. Honestly, “I had a bad feeling about this” going in (of course no one makes it — we never see them in the OT), but the sad part is that I kind of didn’t care. Jyn, Cassian, Rogue’s ragtag crew…we didn’t get to really know them. The reason this has a 4th place mention is that the story simply works in the Star Wars universe, while providing clues the rebels weren’t as squeaky clean as we’d imagined. And sarcastic, sociopathic K2SO is probably the best droid we’re likely to see. I liked the force sensitive “Space Husbands” (Baze and Chirrut). The Vader fight scene at the end, the desperate pass-off of the data tape, the lead-in to A New Hope: worth the price of admission, right there.Ā  The Death Star destruction sequences were extremely compelling, making that weapon truly frightening in a way the other movies didn’t.
  5. Return of the Jedi – I wish I could place this higher. The cold open of the rescue of Han from Jabba’s palace is pure gold. After that, it starts going downhill fast. Han becomes like an anti-version of himself, Leia is pensive and moody, Luke is inscrutable (and not in a intriguing way). It doesn’t really work, and the Ewoks still piss me off. The jokes are stale, the action sequences middling…but it’s still better than the prequels. Damning with faint praise? …Giving this another thought, I think I would rank the original RotJ in 4th place, and the Special EditionĀ version at 5th. The changes really stuck out in a bad way and dragged this installment down. I still have to think about this. I am sure The Last Jedi will shake everything up anyway, so I’ll just move on.
  6. Phantom Menace – Many people probably list this one last. And to many, it “ruined” Star Wars. I was hugely disappointed with this when it came out. Over the years, though, it’s taken on a nicer sheen. I love Qui-Gon, young Obi-Won was perfect, and there are amazing set pieces. The Pod Race scene is great, Naboo is beautiful, the Padme/Queen storyline was compelling, and the Duel of the FatesĀ scene with Darth Maul is the best lightsaber fight in the entire saga. As for the hated Jar Jar, the terrible Midiclorians, and that poor Anakin kid with the terrible Yippee lines: I learned to ignore them, and just watch the moments that that had the right feel for the SW Universe. It’s a really pretty movie and Liam Neeson’s Qui-Gon is the best Jedi we see throughout the series.
  7. Revenge of the Sith – I honestly don’t remember much about this entire film. Maybe that’s a good thing. I never put it on re-watch. It played like a war documentary…and only felt like Star Wars in the last half hour. But it was a great last half hour, with the long-awaited payoff on the lava planet (Okay, good except for the wretched”Nooooooooo” after “Where’s Padme?”). And the dying from sorrow bit? It doesn’t work that way. I think a lot of people felt RotS made the prequels better. I really don’t think they’re fixable. But then, I grew up with the Classic movies, so I’m just an old fart you can safely ignore. šŸ™‚
  8. Attack of the Clones – This one is mostly dreck. I like the arena fight scene — great set-piece — and the stuff on Camino (the water planet). Coruscant is neat, and the early scenes of fighting on the flying cars — pretty darn cool. But the entire romance was bad. Simply, plainly bad. Bad like sand! I don’t get why Padme is even interested in this whiny child. Who is Dooku, again? What is the plot about? There are clones, there are trade negotiations, and a whole lot of nothing.

I know everyone’s list will be different. Ultimately, any Star Wars is better than most sci-fi out there.

With the The Last Jedi coming out tomorrow (!), I’ll have to shake up my list. I hope TLJ is amazing. Please, be amazing.

I’ll need the new movie to settle in my brain for a while before I can think about the new rankings. MAN, I AM EXCITED. (I’m actually going to dress as Rey. Yup. Certified Geek.)

#NotTooOldForThisSh!t

#StarWarsNight

#It’sATrap

Movie Review – The Disaster Artist

I’m working on my review for The Disaster Artist right now, but wanted to give you a heads up while I do it. It’s hilarious, and full of amazing actor and director cameos. The audience was into it in a way that I haven’t seen since my last midnight showing of The Rocky Horror Picture Show, 30 years ago. Hold tight; the longer review is coming shortly…

Update — Okay, here we go, for what it’s worth…

When I went into the theater, I was shocked: the room was jam packed, and before I entered, there was a professional fellow handing out intensely detailed questionnaires about the film. I’d never seen that in all these years of doing Peetimes in the theaters. Another cool thing: I got a “Tommy’s World” Planet Pen for finishing the questionnaire. (I love this pen: it’s a copy of the same one Tommy gives Greg, early on in the film. So, yeah, I have one now. Sweet).

(Also, I have an extra copy of the long, specifically picayune questionnaire, filled with bubbles to mark in. It reminds me of an SAT test. Seriously.)

The thing about this movie: it’s more of an experience than just a passive viewing. The audience clapped, laughed, roared, yelled, and shouted lines as the actors said them. This might have been a select group of people who loved the cult film “The Room” that this was based on (okay, it clearly must have been), so your experience might be less participatory. BUT, I promise it will still be a good time. I laughed more at The Disaster Artist than any film since A Fish Called Wanda, A Knight’s Tale, or Deadpool (my high-water funny-movie marks). It’s seriously weird, but never dumb.

Strangely, there’s really nothing amazing about The Disaster Artist as a story. Period. It’s got a lot of cringe humor (which I don’t normally like). There’s no plot. You just go with the smartly sharp nonsense. It’s a very cool film on several levels, and it’s not actually mindless…there’s a lot going on, but with great sound and fury, signifying nothing. Am I making any sense? Because the film doesn’t. šŸ™‚

You can probably see I ‘m having a hard time reviewing this film. Here’s the deal: it’s wacky, funny, and chock-full of exciting entertainment cameos. I think everyone in the Industry wanted to be in this film! It’s a lovely tribute to Franco that he’s so beloved in entertainment circles, and he really does quite an unrestrained, committed job inhabiting his whack-job role of Tommy. (There’s also a ton of Easter Eggs and in-jokes, if you keep your eyes open.)

Seth Rogen, as the film-within-a-film director, also deserves a shout out: he’s hysterical. Dave Franco, James’ real-life brother, is serviceable as Greg, and adds a grounding component to the story. He’s the Luke Skywalker to James’s crazed Obi-Won Kenobi.

So, should you see this film? Well, yes. (Duh. I don’t give out A grades willy-nilly.) If you’ve seen the cult classic “The Room”, you’ll be freakishly happy with this “making of” version. Definitely stick around for the mid-credit side-by-side scenes, so you too can shout out “You’re tearing me apart, Lisa!”

And, if you are a complete newbie to “The Room” (I was), it’s still a hoot from beginning to end. Weird! Oddishly fun. Okay, I’ve said enough. Enjoy.

Movie Review – A Bad Mom’s Christmas (RunPee Jilly’s POV)

A Bad Mom’s Christmas isn’t much to write home about, but there were a few decent laughs and it was consistently entertaining. Don’t expect much, and you’ll enjoy it. Susan Sarandon did her best with the low-brow script, and Kristen Bell was adorable, as always. The overbearing moms were overbearing, and the raunchy jokes were raunchy. The meaning of the mother-daughter bond was discussed. It was all a little rote. A lot of movies try to recreate a woman’s version of The Hangover, but this just doesn’t get there.

The plot-line of making the perfect Christmas party was all kind of nuts – I don’t know a lot of people who care that much about party perfection. My thought is that if you’ve got good food and drink, some decor and appropriate music, you’re golden. But then I thought about it: I love Harry Potter. If I was going to make a Hogwarts Yule Ball, I’d probably go a little overboard in the planning department. It’s all in what you enjoy obsessing on. šŸ™‚

I was able to follow this movie without having watched the previous Bad Moms movie. This is to be expected – it’s fluffy, forgettable entertainment, capitalizing on viewers wanting to relax at mall theaters after all the holiday shopping. It delivers on this count.

Movie Grade: C+

Movie Review: Thor 3 – Ragnorak (Jilly’s POV)

Thor 3, AKA Ragnarok, was incredibly engaging and hard to tear my eyes from. It’s now in my top tier of MCU movies, beaten only by the first Guardians of the Galaxy. Hemsworth’s slightly dim but mighty character is a joy, from his 4th wall-breaking open, to the mid-credit end, and the man’s got surprisingly perfect comedic timing. Who knew? Turns out Hemsworth really can carry a movie on his muscular back, with more than raw beauty to show for it.

I wasn’t expecting too much going in, but admittedly the bar was so low with Thor 1 and 2 (especially 2). The director used Thor wisely in his 3rd, and presumably final, solo film. Although it’s essentially a buddy movie about Hulk, too. Just like Captain America 3: Civil WarĀ is basically an AvengersĀ ensemble movie, right? It works.

Along these lines, I have a few alternate titles for Thor: Ragnarok that I think would work even better (unless you are a huge Norse Mythology fan). List whichever you prefer in the comments section:

  • Thor: God of Hammers
  • Thor: Gladiator Edition
  • Thor: The Funny One
  • Revengers (like the Avengers, with added dysfunction)
  • Hulk 2
  • Thor and Hulk: Road Trip to the Devil’s Anus

What’s unusual about this film are the villains. They aren’t bland meanies, like most superhero supervillans; they’re actually okay.Ā  Damning with faint praise, I know. Cate Blanchett does a decent job with what she’s given (I sense there were more scenes left on the editing floor). The Ragnarok fire demon was fine – he wasn’t intended to be more than a burning lava monster, from cold open to the unusual climax. And Golblum isn’t even a “bad” guy — he’s just an amiable meglomaniac with a harem and God Complex. He reminded me of The Collector. I hope we see them both again.

I do feel bad for Hela…there could have been a lot more depth to her arc. I guess she needed to get in line for scene time after Loki and Odin and Heimdall (who, thankfully, had something to do this time around). I’d be super happy with a Heimdall movie, for reals. The man was wasted, although the teaser suggests more to come. Saying anything more would enter spoiler territory, so let’s just move along.

Finally, Loki was appropriately used, and is more understandable — this director “got” what the God Of Mischief is about. Loki is like the “Scorpion” in the parable with the fox (Google it) — it’s true to his nature to sting. Yet he does try (when it suits hims, natch) to be a hero. He wants to be better, and if you recall from the first Thor movie, both brothersĀ had some moral growing to do. With Thanos mad at him, we can guess which side he’ll lean on now. Loki has always been a scene stealer, as well as a PITA to boot, but here I’m fully onboard with his character. He can be a positive force, if he’s just accepted and understood — that’s become super clear, finally, inĀ Ragnarok.

I’m really stingy with my A grades, and the last time I gave out a full A+ was the 2017 space cruise ship flick Passengers. Strangely enough, my favorite MCU film is still the original Guardians of the Galaxy. The blue and purple villains were underwhelming though, and I can only give GoTG a A- grade in good conscience. (I’ll link to that article when I write it.)

But, we’re still talking about Thor here, and Thor 3 manages to pull a win from their previously low Marvel tier buttocks.

And yes, I rank Marvel movies by tier: Great, Good, Okay, and Fetid…and Thor’s been scraping the bottom in his stand-alones,Ā  til now. I credit the director — who also played the delightful Rockman — for understanding what Thor should be used for, along with Hemsworth for embracing his slightly slow but funny godhood (“Because that is what heroes do!”), Ruffalo for being freaking awesome in his dual roles, and for the writers giving us something happy in these dark times…YES. Thank you for the color, the fun, and for Goldblum. He’s the perfect weirdo to be the Grandmaster, and I hear he smartly improvised most of his lines, playing himself, as usual. Go Goldblum, go.

And nowĀ I’ve got The Immigrant Song, by Led Zepplin, stuck in m head. It’s a good choice, so that’s okay by me. The reprise was certainly welcome, and the audience clapped at it. I was a happy movie goer that day, and saw it this three more times in the cinema later. Watch it in the theater, and watch it again on DVD.

Movie Grade: A+

Want more? Read Dan’s review of Thor: Ragnarok

And ourĀ Thor 2 – The Dark World Rewatch Review

Or the Complete Compilation of Thor 3’s Deleted, Bonus, and Blooper Scenes

Movie Review – Coco (RunPee Jilly’s POV)

This wildly beautiful animated film celebrates Latino culture, inter-generational family connections, one possible interpretation of the afterlife, and, most obviously, what the Day of the Dead is all about.

I’m not an expert on Mexican holidays, but it felt authentica. The animated humans were pretty adorable, and the Miguel/Hector interactionsĀ  stole my dark little heart. Then theĀ perito…what can I say? He seemed firstly like a typical cutsie sidekick, but we get a little Scooby treat in the end.

Even the cast and plot held together — which in animated films can be hit or miss. Coco is on the level of Inside OutĀ for me: giving me deeper things to think about, with a visual feast to sit back and enjoy.

The “real world” first act was only okay, (which brings the grade down from a perfect A+ score) – kind of like a Mexican Footloose – but once we let any semblance of reality go, crossing the bridge to the afterworld, things becomeĀ fabuloso, wacky, quirky, and really, really fun.

New anthology films in this undead setting could start a whole new franchise. Like traipsing to a more colorful Narnia, we’d enjoy staying in the brightly festooned, colorful cities, teeming with glitzy skele-people and their bold, big lives-after-death. Nice place to visit, I think.

What this film does best of all (besides making me sob like a baby: be warned) lies in the pretty. It’s gorgeous. Every scene in the land of the dead is phenomenal.Ā  Worth seeing in 3D, and definitely worth owning as a DVD, to play over and over again, no matter what your nationality, or afterlife belief.

Good, solid entertainment for anyone, at any age. This one reaches the ranks of the better animated movies (feel free to post those in the comments for discussion). Darkly beautiful: thanks, Pixar!

Movie Grade: A