“Coco” rolled into theaters for the Thanksgiving movie blitz to rave reviews and audience appreciation. This lavish animated classic might not compete with “Frozen” to become another Disney classic extravaganza, but for its ability to keep the attention of the small crowd, it deserves big accolades.

Although it would’ve made more sense for “Coco” to arrive earlier in November when Day of the Dead is celebrated, marketing it for the opening of the holiday season means big box office bucks. To date the film’s gross is hovering right around $73 million dollars. Not bad for Pixar’s animation fund and the Disney coffers. 

With plot details grounded firmly in the traditional Mexican holiday of Day of the Dead, “Coco” weaves the story of Miguel (voice of Anthony Gonzalez), a little boy who lives with his family in a small Mexican village. They’re a family of shoemakers with a long line of ancestors who have always made shoes, but Miguel has mixed feelings about continuing the tradition. He has a secret passion for music.

Unfortunately, all music has been banned by Miguel’s family, so he must practice his guitar in secret. When he’s caught by his Abuelita (voice of Renee Victor), she smashes his precious instrument in a fit of rage.

As celebrations of Day of the Dead ensue, the family’s altar with pictures of their ancestors draws attention. Miguel sorts through a variety of clues in an attempt to learn more about the ancestor whose image has been torn away from one of the early photographs. It’s then that he notices his headless ancestor is holding a guitar.

Miguel will be pulled into the Land of the Dead as he begins his quest to solve the mystery. He believes his ancestor to be none other than the greatest Mexican musician of all time, Ernesto de la Cruz (voice of Benjamin Bratt).

Miguel will soon make an even bigger discovery. His great grandmother Mamá Coco (voice of Ana Ofelia Murguía) will be part of the story. Miguel’s Land of the Dead friend Héctor (voice of Gael Garcia Bernal) will need Miguel’s help or be forever erased from collective memories. As Miguel makes his way among the ghosts of his past ancestors, his adventure takes some startling and life-changing turns that will affect his living family.

“Coco” has the right balance of spellbinding visual imagery and fascinating Mexican folklore to entertain all ages and all cultures.  Go see it. You’ll be richer for it.

Rated PG for thematic elements.

Marilyn Robitaille has been writing film reviews since 1999.