This weekend at the movies, we have a spirited Pixar outing (Coco, featuring the voices of Gael García Bernal and Benjamin Bratt) and Denzel Washington as a lawyer in crisis (Roman J. Israel, Esq., co-starring Colin Farrell and Carmen Ejogo). What are the critics saying?
The concept of death isn’t exactly taboo in animation — as any film lover can tell you, countless classic cartoon characters are orphans, and the loss of a loved one has offered the motivation for many an ultimately heartwarming tale. But it’s rare to see a family-friendly movie whose plot is centered around mortality — let alone one that takes pains to honor the traditions of a culture that many viewers consider foreign. Leave it to Pixar to take both leaps with Coco
, in which a young Mexican boy named Miguel (Anthony Gonzalez
) is caught between his dreams of being a musician and his obligations to his family. With a story (and overall aesthetic) influenced by the Mexican holiday of Día de Muertos, Coco
represents a thematic and visual departure for the studio — which is exactly why critics say the movie is such a delight. While audiences can still expect all the tight storytelling craft and attention to detail that’s become synonymous with the Pixar name, the end result is still fresh enough to avoid feeling like formula. Whether Coco
‘s characters remind you of your own family or you don’t know your mariachi from your norteño, this looks like a sure thing for families heading out to the theater over the long holiday weekend.
Denzel Washington is one of our more remarkably gifted working actors, capable of bringing such depth to his performances that even the less compelling entries in his filmography can often be worth watching just for the opportunity to see him in action. All of which is to say that writer-director Dan Gilroy
made the right move when he hired Washington to play the lead in Roman J. Israel, Esq.
, his drama about a principled lawyer whose life is upended when the senior partner in his small firm dies, forcing him to open up to uncomfortable changes — or potentially damaging lapses in ethics. It’s the type of part Washington can be counted on to invest with real feeling even when the screenplay or editing make it difficult; unfortunately, critics say that’s often the case here, adding up to a movie that, while far from a disaster, is also much less than the sum of its award-winning talent. Hardcore Washington or Gilroy fans may want to head to Israel
this weekend, but for everyone else, there’s no reason not to wait for the movie’s arrival on home video.
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Also Opening This Week In Limited Release
- Call Me by Your Name (2018) , a coming-of-age romance set in the Italian countryside starring Armie Hammer and Timothée Chalamet, is Certified Fresh at 98 percent.
- Bombshell: The Hedy Lamarr Story (2017) , a documentary about the stranger-than-fiction career of the titular star, is at 92 percent.
- Darkest Hour (2017) , a biographical drama starring Gary Oldman as Winston Churchill, is Certified Fresh at 88 percent.
- Antiporno (Anchiporuno) (2017) , a drama exploring the complex antagonistic dynamic between an artist and her assistant, is at 83 percent.
- The Man Who Invented Christmas (2017) , starring Christopher Plummer and Dan Stevens in a fanciful look at the writing of A Christmas Carol, is at 79 percent.