By: Amanda Guarragi
Sony Pictures Animation has truly brought so much to the table recently. After striking a deal with Netflix, their animated films have really soared into everyone’s hearts. Sony continues to create such beautiful, heartfelt stories, with such colourful characters. The film follows a one-of-a-kind kinkajou named Vivo (Lin Manuel-Miranda), who spends his days playing music to the crowds in a lively Havana square with his owner and friend, Andrés (Juan de Marcos González). Vivo and Andrés are the perfect duo because of their common love of music. Tragedy strikes shortly after Andrés receives a letter from the famous Marta Sandoval (Gloria Estefan), inviting her old partner to her farewell concert in Miami. In order to get to the distant shores of Miami, Vivo will need to accept the help of Andrés’ grand-niece Gabi (Ynairaly Simo) – an energetic tween who bounces to the beat of her own offbeat drum.
Vivo definitely has a beautiful story that shows the true meaning of love. There’s a platonic love between friends who share common interests, there’s unrequited love and understanding, and there is lost love, that one tends to stay with you. In this film we see that Andrés truly loved Marta, but he let her go because she was trying to build her career, and he was only a friend. There are many connections you can share with different people, and sometimes, those feelings may be hard to explain. Andrés loved Marta, and he knew it would be easier to let her go. So yes, you will get emotional within the first twenty minutes of this movie. There are also beautiful transitions from 3D-animation, to 2D-animation, to show the flashbacks, which was a nice touch.
As young Vivo travels to Miami, he faces some obstacles along the way. With the help of an eccentric tween Gabi, they both need to make it to that show. Here is where the issue lies with this film. The middle of this adventure was generic and it moved extremely slow. For an adventure sequence to take up majority of the film and lack excitement is not something you want for a journey like this. The characters they meet in the jungle are beautifully animated and fun, but they did not add much to the story. They were presented as a fun obstacle and then thrown away. The one thing that does work throughout is the music, and some songs were perfectly placed to move the story forward.
Vivo is heartfelt, colourful, and fun for the family. It takes us on a journey through Havana straight to Miami, and it is entertaining for the most part. There are some key emotional moments that do not stick because there is humour that cuts them short. Gabi’s backstory was really interesting. I wish we could have seen more of her family dynamic without her father. Yes, Vivo was adorable, but Gabi’s story would have made more of an impact. The music and the animation are definitely the standouts but it felt like they needed to cover the weak story at times.