Pixar is known for a couple of things that define the kind of movies that they release. The amazing quality of animation and attention to detail which is unprecedented and leagues ahead of any other animation studio. The compelling storytelling, though recently criticized for making it obvious that the movies wanted to make you cry. These two things, coupled together have made Pixar a household name and with Coco, they do their job.
Coco will tide you over for the next Pixar movie which is the sequel to The Incredibles, please don't mess that up. Coco is a nice movie, but unless you connect with it in some way, you probably won't remember it very well as time goes on. It's not that the movie is bad, it's just not that different. I have seen many Day of the Dead movies and they all feel a little the same. So lucky for you if you have never seen something centered around that culture. Its a movie about remembering family, chasing your dreams, and never giving up. These three themes are found in more classic Pixar movies rather than more recent ones.
The step back actually shows in the movie because the emotional manipulation is more hidden than in recent Pixar fare. In movies like Inside Out and Finding Dory, the telegraphing of the movie trying to make you cry was blatantly obvious. In Coco, it does a fantastic job keeping you occupied to forget that it wants to make you cry if you do at all. It really does feel like a better story than some of Pixar's more recent movies.
The nice things about this movie come from the animation quality, which truly is unrivaled and anyone who says differently is living in a dream world. The music is also pretty great with nice songs in the moment, but probably unmemorable in the long term. And the overall payoff at the end of the movie was satisfying.
That being said, this movie is not without faults. The story is pretty slow at the beginning of the movie. It sets up its world and the characters fine, but it didn't allude to the main conflict of the film until 2/3 into the movie. This is a problem because the movie feels much longer than it actually is. The movie is under 2 hours long but feels almost like 3. This can probably be attributed to the Frozen short in front of the movie. That short clocks in at about 20 minutes and is tonally inconsistent to Coco itself.
The Frozen short is filled with truly unmemorable songs, that are not very good. The substance of the short makes me very scared for Frozen 2 because they won't be able to move on from the story of the first Frozen. I don't need to see Else lock herself up in a room again. Tonally it just didn't fit the whole persona of Frozen, except for Olaf because he's Olaf.
Overall, the whole Coco experience is a little hard to recommend because of the Frozen short. But other than that, it is actually a pretty good movie that you won't really remember. I would say that it will probably be a great streaming movie once it comes to iTunes and Google Play. It's worth a watch without the Frozen short.