Wednesday, August 4, 2021

Vivo Review: A Latin Flavored Musical Adventure

Lin-Manuel Miranda	...	Vivo (voice) Ynairaly Simo	Ynairaly Simo	...	Gabi (voice) Zoe Saldana	Zoe Saldana	...	Rosa (voice) Juan de Marcos González	Juan de Marcos González	...	Andrés (voice) Michael Rooker	Michael Rooker	...	Lutador (voice) Brian Tyree Henry	Brian Tyree Henry	...	Dancarino (voice) Nicole Byer	Nicole Byer	...	Valentina (voice) Gloria Estefan	Gloria Estefan	...	Marta Sandoval (voice) Leslie David Baker	Leslie David Baker	...	(voice) Katie Lowes	Katie Lowes	...	(voice) Olivia Trujillo	Olivia Trujillo	...	(voice) Lidya Jewett	Lidya Jewett	...	(voice) 

Release date: August 6, 2021
Running time: 98 minutes
Directed By: Kirk DeMicco
Starring: Lin-Manuel Miranda (Vivo), Zoe Saldaña (Rosa), Juan de Marcos (Andrés), Brian Tyree Henry (Dancarino), Michael Rooker (Lutador), Nicole Byer (Valentina), introducing Ynairaly Simo (Gabi), and Gloria Estefan (Marta), Katie Lowes (Becky), Olivia Trujillo (Eva), Lidya Jewett (Sarah)

From Netflix and Sony Pictures Animation comes VIVO, an animated musical adventure that follows Vivo, a musically gifted kinkajou (aka a rainforest “honey bear”) as he embarks on the adventure of a lifetime to deliver a song to his cherished owner’s long-lost love.

Oscar Camacho		 Eileen Galindo	Eileen Galindo		 Michelle Jubilee Gonzalez	Michelle Jubilee Gonzalez		 Aaron LaPlante	Aaron LaPlante	...	Iguana / Tourist Dad / Dog Richard Miro	Richard Miro		 Paloma Morales	Paloma Morales	...	Vo Jonathan Nichols	Jonathan Nichols		 Christian Ochoa	Christian Ochoa	...	Montoya Susan Oliveras	Susan Oliveras	...	Vocal Ensemble Arianna Rosario	Arianna Rosario	...	Vocal Ensemble Adriana Sevan	Adriana Sevan
Vivo follows a recent string of beautifully animated Sony Pictures Animation films, and the Vivo's colorful style and fluid characters do not disappoint.  The film takes place in a few places, but the most visually appealing are on the streets of Havana and in Miami.  The Havana locale is bright, natural, and beautiful, with a warmth that comes from a happy community.  And the Miami night life is bold, neon, and beautiful, with an excitement that comes from a big, lit up city.  And all of these do have something in common, a Latin flavor that permeates everything.  From the food, to the mixed use of Spanish, to some of the ideals that are focused on, the world of Vivo is a vibrant, Spanish focused one.

And the world is filled with characters, most notably the kinkajou Vivo, voiced by Lin-Manuel Miranda.  Miranda is so distinct and lends a lot of life to this spunky, talented monkey.  And his partner in crime Gabi, voiced by Ynairaly Simo was a lot of fun.  I liked their dynamic and I liked that Gabi just didn't quite fit in with those around.  Making movies for kids that don't quite fit into the normal social circles is a great way to both highlight different kids and also give them heroes to rally behind.  And on top of all of this, the music of Vivo is catchy and enjoyable.  I didn't fall in love with the music, but it was entertaining and stayed in my head after the film.  It had more of a remix flavor and also had more of an electronic feel in some instances, which was a nice evolution of Miranda's style.

But the story of Vivo is a mixed bag.  There is not enough emotional connection at the start, and it pretty quickly gets into the overall adventure.  I would have liked some more time at the start to establish some of the characters before the adventure began.  There is also an underlying environmental message that is lost in this film.  The environmental characters are made to be annoying, which loses some of the environmental aspects of it.  And the adventure itself is sort of a mixed bag.  It was an enjoyable experience, just one that I didn't love as much as I thought I would.  The middle takes place in a much less vibrant location, and feels more like a chore rather than an adventure.  And the animal characters that are introduced, like the environmental characters, are just not that interesting.  But that being said, it's an animated film on Netflix that will keep you and the kids entertained, so what's not to like?

Overall, what Vivo brings is a ton of Latin flavor, Lin-Manuel Miranda's infectious music, and a bright, beautiful, and well animated adventure.

Rent it.

Daniel Chuba	...	co-producer John Clinton	...	co-producer Louis Koo	...	executive producer (as Louis Koo Tin Lok) Laurence Mark	...	executive producer Lin-Manuel Miranda	...	executive producer Rich Moore	...	producer Lisa Stewart	...	producer Michelle Wong	...	producer (as Michelle L.M. Wong)

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Vivo is available on Netflix on August 6, 2021.

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