FILMS: Coco and Lady Bird


 Image: IMDB

Welcome to Katz Reviews. This is Ed Katz of Katnip Marketing- marketing consultant by day; theater and film critic by night- with my weekly review segment, Katz Reviews, here for you on WICC 600.

A highly acclaimed family film is the Disney/Pixar animated ‘Coco,’ co-written and directed by Lee Unkrich and Adrian Molina. It won the Golden Globe award for Best Animated Feature Film.

Still, I would have passed on seeing this but my teenage daughter- who already saw ‘Coco’- wanted my wife and I to go with her to see it again. And that says a lot!

Anthony Gonzalez plays Miguel, a young boy in Mexico who loves music- but, due to a sad part of his family’s history, his family forbids it. He winds up in the Land of the Dead, needing to find his great-great-grandfather- as well as needing to uncover some family secrets.

Benjamin Bratt plays Oscar De La Cruz (a kind of Mexican Elvis Presley) and Gael Garcia Bernal plays Hector, who helps Miguel in his quest- until the family secrets are revealed.

Though the film relies on the typical “beat-the-clock” element to ratchet up the suspense, it is still effective (as well as a fun ride) with Miguel exploring the Land of the Dead as its sole living inhabitant.

The animation on the big screen looks gorgeous and the music is wonderful, too.

Among the team who wrote the memorable songs are Robert Lopez and his wife, Kristin Anderson-Lopez, who also wrote the music for Broadway hits ‘Avenue Q,’ ‘Book of Mormon’ and- soon- ‘Frozen.’

I give ‘Coco’ 4 stars out of 5. My daughter was right: it’s terrific family entertainment.

And I have another film to tell you about- but this one is not for the whole family; not if you have young children, anyway.

Written & directed by the actress Greta Gerwig, ‘Lady Bird’ won Golden Globe awards for Best Musical or Comedy and Best Actress in a Musical or Comedy for Saoirse Ronan as well as nominations for supporting actress Laurie Metcalf and screenplay- for Greta Gerwig.

The story follows Ronan’s character through her senior year at high school in Sacramento. She plays Christine- though she calls herself “Lady Bird” (seemingly as an act of defiance to her stifling, hyper-critical mother, beautifully played by Laurie Metcalf).


 Saoirse Ronan (l); Laurie Metcalf. Image: whatsupme

The conflicts between Lady Bird and her mom form much of the plot- along with her choices of friends and boyfriends, and her dream of getting out of California and attending a college in New York- which she knows her mother would never approve of.

Lady Bird’s dad is played by Tracy Letts- and it is great to see him in a positive, warm, sympathetic role as opposed to his usual harsh roles in ‘Homeland,’ ‘The Big Short’ and others.

While the Golden Globes placed this in the comedy category it is really a drama- with several funny moments- though they are often darkly funny.

Timothée Chalamet; image: flixist

Timothée Chalamet, getting kudos for starring in ‘Call Me By Your Name,’ also shines here as one of Lady Bird’s bad choices for a boyfriend. Note- he is the bass player in a rock band, so… kind of predictable he isn’t the best “boyfriend material.”

Terrific performances by all the main characters and some sharply incisive scenes elevate this story and I give ‘Lady Bird’ 4 stars out of 5.

Catch my reviews right here this time each week and on my Facebook page and website, Katz Reviews dot com- that’s K-A-T-Z Reviews dot com- where you will find all my WICC 600 reviews.

This is Ed Katz talking movies for WICC 600!”