Vivo (2021) Netflix Review

Directors: Kirk DeMicco, Brandon Jeffords

Writers: Kirk DeMicco, Quiara Alegría Hudes, Peter Barsocchini

Stars: Lin-Manuel Miranda, Ynairaly Simo, Zoe Saldana

RATING: 3.5 Stars

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Vivo follows a one-of-kind kinkajou (aka a rainforest “honey bear”) who spends his days playing music to the crowds in a lively square with his beloved owner Andrés. Though they may not speak the same language, Vivo and Andrés are the perfect duo through their common love of music. But when tragedy strikes shortly after Andrés receives a letter from the famous Marta Sandoval, inviting her old partner to her farewell concert with the hope of reconnecting, it’s up to Vivo to deliver a message that Andrés never could: A love letter to Marta, written long ago, in the form of a song. Yet in order to get to Marta, who lives a world apart, Vivo will need the help of Gabi – an energetic tween who bounces to the beat of her own offbeat drum to fulfil his owner’s wishes.—Netflix

Lin Manuel Miranda has had some hits and some misses for me. Hamilton was of course excellent, but In the Heights fell woefully short of my expectations. So I was cautiously optimistic when I learned of his involvement in this film. This time though rather than writing or directing, his involvement is limited to writing the original songs for the film and voicing Vivo, our main character. The songs definitely have his signature style and that style permeates the entire film, it is upbeat, joyous and beautifully animated. It’s only downfall. is that despite all these positive points, the film is pretty run of the mill in terms of plot.

Vivo shares most of this adventure with quirky, lovable Gabi, and she is the absolute shining star of this film. She livens up every scene she is in and will be a character that a lot of young kids can really relate to. I loved her independence and her refusal to fit into the ‘norms’ of society. She was going to live life her way, and that’s an important message to teach kids.

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Everything else about the plot though was pretty standard stuff. Two friends on a time sensitive mission that run into several obstacles on the way but manage to achieve their goal at the last minute with seconds to spare and everyone lives happily ever after. It’s the plot of about seventy percent of kids movies. And yes, it is clear that the reason for this is because this formula works, and it does, some of my favourite films follow this exact pattern, but it is nice when a kids film can take you by surprise and go somewhere different.

The animation is gorgeous, nothing for Disney to look down their noses at whatsoever, though I am sure they and others will try. Some of the visuals in this film are just stunning.

A really great film to watch with kids with catchy songs and interesting characters. Check it out on Netflix this weekend!

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