Director: Kirk DeMicco
Genre: Family, Animation, Adventure, Musical
Runtime: 95 Minutes
Main Cast: Lin-Manuel Miranda, Ynairaly Simo, Zoe Saldana, Juan de Marcos González, Brian Tyree Henry, Gloria Estefan, Michael Rooker, Nicole Byer
Plot: Vivo (Lin-Manuel Miranda), a cute kinkajou with a passion for music, embarks on a mission to deliver a song to the famous musician Marta, written by Vivo’s best friend as a declaration of his love for her.
My Thoughts: I recall seeing the teaser trailer for Vivo a few months ago, I was excited because of Lin-Manuel’s involvement but didn’t follow it’s release, and now it’s here! I’m going to try and write something coherent but it’s going to be blatantly obvious to you how much I loved this movie. Every musical has one shot at hooking you with it’s opening number, and I was grinning from ear to ear in the first minute of Vivo. I just adore Lin-Manuel’s song writing abilities, and he has such an iconic voice. Most musicals I watch have maybe one, two at most songs that I can recall from memory after a first watch, but all of these songs were stuck in my memory.
Vivo is such a fun character, a dedicated friend but too caught up in following a set plan. Then we have Gabi (Ynairaly Simo), a ten-year-old girl with the hair of my DREAMS who bears a lot of similarities to the character of Lilo from Disney’s Lilo & Stitch (2002). She marches to the beat of her own drum (and now that song is on repeat in my head) and stays true to herself, even if that means she’s lonely and struggles to make friends.
The story itself is generic and by the book. It’s an adventure with two unlikely heroes, not friends at first but besties by the end, on a mission that goes wrong at every turn but works out fine in the end. There’s nothing shocking that happens, but when the characters are so loveable, the animation so gorgeous and the songs catchy as hell, it’s easily forgivable. After this and The Mitchells vs The Machines (2021), Sony Animation is on a huge winning streak, and I can’t wait to see what’s next!
Best Bit: There was so much I loved, but when the songs were the strongest part of the movie it makes sense to pick my favourite musical number. Inside Your Heart should probably be the one that stands out most because of it’s connection to the story, but for me it was Keep the Beat. It was the moment Vivo realised he was going to have to rely on a new friend in the form of Gabi, and it featured a perfect blend of this song and also Gabi’s song previously. Not to mention some of my favourite lyrics ever, “All I can do when the tank runs dry, is see what’s in reserve”.
Worst Bit: We learned early on that Gabi lost her father years ago, but I wasn’t expecting Sony to pull a Disney/Pixar crush of my emotions like this movie did. It was during the race in Miami when Gabi was exasperated with her mother about delivering the song, it had to be done because Andrés never got to say ‘I love you’. I was staring at the screen silently screaming ‘don’t say it, don’t say it’ and then of course Gabi went on to say that she never got to say her last words to her father and NOW I’m crying again just thinking about it!
Fun Trivia: Sony Animation’s third Netflix exclusive film, after The Mitchells vs the Machines (2021) and Wish Dragon (2021). Well, this answers my question about what comes next for Sony Animation. Turns out I already missed a movie of theirs!
My Rating: It’s taking all my willpower not to give this full marks, and I may well return to this review soon and change it but for now, it’s 4 and a half accordions rolling around in a bag like something from a horror movie.