Article 5536 by Dave Sindelar
Directed by Lee Unkrich and Adrian Molina
Featuring the voices of Anthony Gonzalez, Gael Garcia Bernal, Benjamin Bratt
What it is: Animated feature, Pixar style
A young Mexican boy dreams of being a musician despite his family’s anathema to the profession. When, on the day before the Day of the Dead, he desperately attempts to steal the guitar of a famed music star so he can play it in a music competition, he finds himself trapped in the world of the dead and can only return to the land of the living if he can get the blessing of one of his dead blood relatives.
Though this is the first time I’ve reviewed one of their features, I’ve been a big fan of Pixar for a while, and even though as a whole they aren’t quite as consistent as they were about ten years ago, they’re still able to deliver a top-notch animated feature when their quality-control department is working in top form. This one is inspired; it uses a traditional Mexican holiday as the springboard for a multi-leveled exploration of several subjects, including family, music, memory, and, of course, death. It confidently walks the line between drama and comedy, the characters are well-drawn (in every sense of the word), and it manages to be hilarious one moment and deeply moving the next without straining for effect. Furthermore, the visualization of the world of the dead is stunning, and Pixar’s push to expand the range of animation is also on full display. Whenever Pixar is in top form, I have a harder time deciding which of their features I like best; this is another one that is in the running.