On Friday, Netflix released their latest film, "Vivo," which has since been trending on their site as one of their top 10 films. And it's for good reason.
In previewing the film with a trailer last week, we pointed out the similarities to Pixar's "Coco." The film does draw considerable influence from music and Latino culture, but it also stands on its own.
The film stars Lin-Manuel Miranda as the titular character, Vivo, who is a kinkajou. The film's Girl Scout like characters reveal a kinkajou is also known as a honey bear. It's a years-long collaboration between Miranda and one of the screenwriters, Quiara Alegría Hudes, who also worked with him on "In the Heights."
It being a Miranda project, after all, the film sure enough opens up with a rap number that is reminiscent of "Hamilton," though that's not necessarily a bad thing. The sights and sounds and culture of Havana are quite dazzling. The close connection between Vivo and his owner Andrés, played by Juan de Marcos González, is also endearing, and leaves viewers longing for more of such a good thing.
The film takes viewers on a trip down memory lane, as we learn that Andrés was in love with his musical partner, Marta, played by Gloria Estefan. He nearly told her how he felt, but ultimately did not before she left Havana to have a career in Miami. He now has his chance when Marta provides him with a ticket to her last show.
Andrés reveals that he wrote a song for Marta, which he aims to deliver to her. Vivo is hesitant to go, but he comes around. He also fully realizes and comes to appreciate that duty calls when it's on him, and ultimately Andrés' great-niece, Gabi, played by Ynairaly Simo, to deliver that song for her, all the way in Miami.
While they certainly face their fair share of troubles along the way, Vivo and Gabi rise to the challenge, and they carry the film with incredible charm. Just when it seems like all hope may be lost, the duo come together in the most heartwarming way.
Viewers are not nearly treated enough to the sights of Havana, or of Andrés, or of Estefan's musical talent. Such treats, which were in fact the film's best parts, were not completely absent from the film, though. Whether the scene took place in Key West, the Everglades, Miami, or Havana, the film consistently provided a pop of color.
For viewers who can't get enough of the touch of Havana, NBC News published Nicole Acevedo piece on Friday, "In animated film 'Vivo,' Lin-Manuel Miranda draws on Cuban music's inspiration."
The film's big number is exactly what one would expect, but that's what makes it such a delightful showstopper, sure to get your kids dancing. Mine certainly were.