Vivo (Lin-Manuel Miranda) is a musical kinkajou who busks in Cuba along with his beloved proprietor Andrés (Marcos González). When tragedy strikes, Vivo goes on a journey to Miami, Florida, to ship a message, within the type of a tune, to previous flame Marta Sandoval (Gloria Estefan), with the assistance of Andrés’s goofy niece Gabi (Ynairaly Simo).
There are 4 Lin-Manuel Miranda film musicals out this yr — together with Disney’s Encanto, the variation of In The Heights, and his directorial debut Tick, Tick…Growth!. However solely one in every of them encompasses a kinkajou. Whereas Vivo is just not fairly the once-in-a-generation, culture-redefining masterpiece of, say, Hamilton, it has its moments.
A few of these moments come early on, after we’re handled to what you may name classic Miranda: his now trademark mix of Broadway present tunes via a Latinx lens and mile-a-minute rat-a-tat rapping begins the movie in boisterous, commanding type. In addition to writing 11 authentic songs, Miranda voices the titular Vivo — a rainforest honey bear adopted by Cuban musician Andrés (Juan de Marcos González) as a musical companion. The opening quantity, which sees the pair busk in Havana’s Plaza Vieja, treats us to a few of Miranda’s niftiest rhyming couplets (“We’re a part of a time-honoured custom/of timing and precision/your best musicians…”), his love of music, language and wordplay hurtling via the display screen.
He’s, as Vivo himself sings, sooner than your common cat, and we’re reminded of why Miranda continues to be so in demand as an all-round author and performer. A number of the songs are higher than others — ‘Dance To The Beat Of My Personal Drum’, carried out brilliantly by newcomer Ynairaly Simo, is sort of a MIA hit single, all percussive energy and discordant rapping; elsewhere, there are slushy, slight love songs.
Music is the sturdy level, and also you by no means doubt that zeal.
In a musical about music as a lot as something, it is sensible that music is the sturdy level, and also you by no means doubt that zeal. The story between the songs is skinny, although: Vivo’s mission to ship a tune to Andrés’ long-lost love is stretched to the restrict, and the center part sags with contrived peril and an absence of focus (Vivo meets a few lovesick spoonbills and a python, maybe solely to spice up the speaking animal quota). It will get into formulaic territory quick, too, with uptight characters studying apparent and acquainted classes about studying to let unfastened and dwell life.
However Sony Animation — on one thing of a sizzling streak in the meanwhile after Spider-Man: Into The Spider-Verse and The Mitchells Vs The Machines — preserve the motion vigorous and vibrant, and whereas the usual of animation doesn’t match the inventiveness of these earlier movies, there’s loads of visible prospers and panache to jazz issues up, together with a beautiful retro 2D fantasy sequence, and the town of Miami rendered as a neon wonderland.
And even when the animation, and Miranda’s contributions, don’t fairly elevate it above the same old summer season vacation multiplex fodder for fidgety youngsters and drained mother and father, it does have Gloria Estefan duetting with a rapping kinkajou. What number of movies can declare that?
Extra family-friendly than for-all-ages-friendly — however vigorous work from the thriving Sony Animation makes this energetic Lin-Manuel Miranda musical principally value your time.