Vivo [Grade: B]

Director: Kirk DeMicco

Story By: Kirk DeMicco, Quiara Alegría Hudes, & Peter Barsocchini

Cast: Lin-Manuel Miranda, Ynairaly Simo, Zoe Saldana, Juan de Marcos González, & Gloria Estefan

* * *

I wasn’t looking to check Vivo out until I noticed one name mentioned in a few tweets—Gloria Estefan! I have also been a little dissatisfied with the last 3 films I’ve watched  since the start of August and figured that I wouldn’t go too wrong with a new animated film. 

Well…it was cute…but it didn’t really satisfy me at all. 

* * *

Below are my grades for key components in #Vivo that I find to be key in any story/film/series—Theme, Plot, Pacing, and Character Arc/Development. 

Additionally, I have added an entertainment factor scale to help you determine whether or not the film is something you’d be interested in taking time out of your weekend, evening, or day to watch. The scale range consists of: Worth the Watch/$$$, Interesting Enough (if looking for something new to start), Wait for Streaming, Don’t Rush, & Don’t Watch.

I have also added a few non-spoiling thoughts, wonderings, and comments as I watched the film to help give some rationale for my grades and entertainment scale.

* * *

Theme: B

Plot & Story: A-

Pacing: A-

Character Arc/Development: C

General Entertainment Factor: Don’t Rush

Film Enthusiast Entertainment Factor: Don’t Rush

* * *

TAKEAWAYS:

1. The story of the film seems pretty straightforward—A pet/companion is on a mission to help a friend get a second chance at delivering a very important message when his ability to do so becomes impossible. 

Act One does a pretty decent, and intentionally fast paced job of setting up the friendship, and Acts Two and Three focus all on the journey to deliver the message. 👍🏾

Additionally, the story does a nice job with intersecting the conflicts of Vivo and Gabi. 👍🏾

The issue I have with the story is based on the lack of theme and dialogue follow through with the story. As the story progresses, the scenes support the main storyline, but the interaction with Gabi and many of Vivo’s internal monologues focus on 2 different stories—a story about a pet/companion who refuses to open himself to other friendships outside of his former best friend; and a story about a friendship rooted in kept promises, and a pet/companion put into a situation to keep one of the most important promises made. 

I also feel like the focus on music added some subtle chaos to the flow of the story at certain moments even though it was technically a major part of the story. 🤷🏾‍♂️

2. Pacing was was pretty solid. However, there were many moments that felt forced and odd like all moments with the “Sand Dollar Girls.” Their existence and purpose was cute, but came off as an afterthought in order to move the plot to me. 🤷🏾‍♂️

3. I don’t think I am the biggest fan of Lin Manuel as the lead character. Something made it very difficult to connect with Vivo carrying his voice. 🥴

4. However, speaking of Lin Manuel, the songs! Yes! Can’t deny his talents for music.👍🏾👍🏾

5. There seemed to be quite a few messages happening, mainly due to the way the plot moves. One theme that felt the strongest in terms of execution focused on the power of music for expression—whether identity/Self or emotion. This is carried through well via Vivo and Gabi throughout the story.👏🏾👏🏾👏🏾

Then there were other themes that were attempted to get across, but in a rather unstructured way. One that really stood out to me was this focus on “friendship/best friendship” which was a little hard to believe in Acts Two and Three because Gabi seemed to be pretty self assured and confident. 🤷🏾‍♂️

6. Speaking of Gabi and her confidence, I loved her original song! #BounceToTheBeat! 🙌🏾

7. Gloria Estefan did what she had to do. She sounded really good. 🙌🏾

8. Character Development felt a little forced; and not like they were trying to push it down my throat, but more like they were determined to make it work. By the end of the film, one could walk away seeing Vivo as someone who finally realized that he isn’t alone/doesn’t have to be alone/has the ability have other meaningful friendships. 

This would be fine if the film actually portrayed Vivo as a character struggling with losing a meaningful friendship that he had, but instead we get a character who is determined to finish a mission or a friend. I think this particular storyline should have actually been one of the side stories with more emphasis placed on the friendship piece. 🤷🏾‍♂️

9. Now although I liked the learning aspect of the film…why a kinkajou!? What is the actual deeper meaning/purpose behind choosing this particular animal? 🤨

10. The cinematography and visual effects were beautiful! 👍🏾👍🏾

11. There was nothing about that man that gave what the film decided to give. Especially not how he started the film. 👀🤷🏾‍♂️

* * *

Overall, #Vivo gives Coco- meets In The Heights- meets Rugrats In Paris: The Movie 

The film wasn’t “bad,” but it definitely wasn’t exciting. Could it keep your child entertained for almost 2 hours? Maybe a 3-4-year old. 

Personally, there were two main choices with this film that didn’t translate well for me as a story—Lin Manuel Miranda, and the Kinkajou. The moment Lin Manuel enters the scene, I immediately see him in this mash up of all his plays/performances. I don’t see this adorable kinkajou that’s supposed to appeal to children. 

The rap cadence is so familiar that felt annoying (I really hate to say that). I would’ve loved to see him put on a different character persona for this film if it really had to be him. You know what it reminded me of? It reminded me of comedic skits where the scene involves a child’s bday party, and a last minute, “only affordable” man shows up dressed in a cute cuddly costume, but still uses his deep voice and slang. That’s what it gave me. And even though it wasn’t to that extreme, it was an equivalent. 

Then this kinkajou. The most random animal to choose in the midst of all these humans. It just felt so strange. Honestly, the film should’ve either made it all animals OR focused on a refugee or abandoned child with a particular talent.

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