Film, Sony

“Vivo” is forgettable fun

Ugh.

I started a job at an office supply store recently, hence why there wasn’t a review last week. I’ve just been exhausted. Standing on my feet for 6+ hours a day while working the register is very much not my idea of fun or engaging jobs.

Hopefully, I’ll be out before I get used to it.

Luckily, I was still able to (somewhat) enjoy Vivo. But let me be honest, I think too much of Lin-Manuel Miranda’s music sounds the same. He’s an extremely clever lyricist and can sing really fast, which is impressive, but the music from all his different projects kind of blend together. It’s not necessarily a bad thing, just an observation.

I found Vivo to be a very cute, sweet movie but pretty unoriginal and very predictable. And I forgot most of it right after I turned it off.

The movie follows Vivo, a kinkajou, living in Cuba with his human, Andres, performing for the locals. One day, Andres receives a letter from an old friend and singer, Marta – inviting him to her final performance before she retires. Unfortunately, Andres dies that same night – so Vivo decides to take the song Andres had written for Marta, which includes his declaration of love for her to Miami.

He reluctantly joins forces with Andres’ grandniece Gabi to deliver the song to Marta.

It’s not a particularly interesting story – you can predict pretty much every story beat. I don’t expect every movie to be new and exciting – but I did kind of expect something from this movie. Most of the songs didn’t even stay in my head long after I finished the movie.

The only song that really stands out is “My Own Drum,” performed by Gabi. I don’t even really recall the song Andres wrote for Marta which is supposed to be the emotional lynchpin of this movie.

Usually, even if the story isn’t great – the music stays. But here, I really don’t remember much. And if I’ll be honest, I don’t think Miranda was the right choice to voice the titular character. He’s great at rapping and singing – but the actual voice acting? I’ll pass.

Vivo isn’t a complex character, even though the film tries to make him out to be. His dismissiveness of Gabi as well as his hatred for her choice in music is a real turn-off. Miranda makes him come across as an unlikeable ass.

Gabi’s eccentricities and behavior stem from her father’s death – which is never given enough time or focus to really sink in. And the whole adventure in the Everglades feels more like an excuse to add more talking animals and force some kind of external conflict rather than having the duo work through their problems more organically.

But – it’s not a bad movie. The characters look distinctive. The musical numbers while not memorable for me, is still…objectively well-made and there is a genuine effort to get the audience to sympathize with the characters.

I guess my biggest question is why make Vivo a kinkajou? Kinkajous don’t live in Cuba – and Vivo fell off a truck which is how he ended up there. But there’s nothing about him being the only one of his kind, really – which might make him more sympathetic. I’m also apprehensive about rare animals being protagonists in movies because that often goes hand in hand with a rising demand for those animals as pets.

But that’s less of a criticism of the movie and more of a criticism about society. I need something to complain about that doesn’t work.

Sorry, this review is so short. I’m tired and honestly…I don’t have much to say about the film.

And that’s the scoop.

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Grade: B –

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Year of Release: 2021

Length: 99 minutes

Director: Kirk DeMicco

Screenplay by: Kirk DeMicco, Quiara Alegría Hudes

Story by: Peter Barsocchini, Quiara Alegría Hudes

Producers: Lisa Stewart, Michelle L.M. Wong, Rich Moore

Starring: Lin-Manuel Miranda, Zoe Saldana, Juan de Marcos, Brian Tyree Henry, Michael Rooker, Nicole Byer, Ynairaly Simo, Gloria Estefan

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