What would happen if your last chance to say “I love you” rested on the hands of a musically talented kinkajou and a bouncy young girl? In short, that’s what the newest and electrifying Sony Pictures Animation and Netflix animated movie VIVO is about.
From the acclaimed mind of Lin-Manuel Miranda (Hamilton and Moana) and with screenplay by Pulitzer Prize winner Quiara Alegría Hudes (In the Heights), VIVO follows the smart but suspicious kinkajou Vivo as he embarks on an adventure across countries to deliver the last song written by his late owner, Andrés (Juan de Marcos González), to the love of his life, the Cuban singer Marta Sandoval, voiced by the legendary Gloria Estefan.
With very little time to accomplish his mission, Vivo reluctantly joins forces with the spirited and independent Gabi (Ynairaly Simo), Andrés’ great-niece, in order to reach Marta before her last onstage performance in Miami, Florida.
Music, Characters, and a Friend’s Last Wish
VIVO is directed by Oscar nominated filmmaker Kirk DeMicco, known for his work on The Croods and The Croods: A New Age, and co-directed by Brandon Jeffords, who most recently worked as a storyboard artist on another Netflix animated movie, The Mitchells vs. the Machines.
Highly upbeat, VIVO had me booty-dancing on my couch from the get-go. Each one of the eight musical numbers performed during the movie was written and produced by Lin-Manuel Miranda, who comes back with his most solid work since the outstanding and unforgettable success of his Broadway play Hamilton, based on the founding of the United States.
This time around, Lin-Manuel Miranda took a step further, mixing his traditional Latin vibe to electronic music, a significant variation from his most known compositions, that was both refreshing and true to his style. Everyone who sticks around until the end is in for a great treat, when Gloria Estefan performs one of the most beautiful and emotional songs in the movie, “Inside Your Heart (Para Marta)”.
Indeed, music is at the heart of VIVO, each song moving the story forward, ultimately communicating it’s central message.
As for characters, most of the story is centered around Vivo and Gabi, the vivacious and carefree 10-year-old girl who we first meet when she travels to Cuba to attend her uncle’s Andrés memorial services. And much like Vivo and her uncle, Gabi loves music and playing instruments, but constantly gets into trouble with her mother Rosa (Zoe Saldaña), who wants her daughter to be more social and make some friends.
And although a bit one-sided at first, Gabi’s and Vivo’s bond only grows stronger throughout their adventure, as they set out to honor Andrés’ last wishes and reach Marta before is too late.
A Great Time For Everyone
VIVO arrives this Friday on Netflix, and is certain to be a great time for everyone, independent of age. As it was the case with the release of The Mitchells vs. the Machines back in April, the partnership between Sony Pictures Animation and the streaming giant has once again proved to be a winning one, and that makes me even more excited for what’s ahead.