As a part of Netflix’s current quarterly replace, the ever-expanding streamer bragged that this final 12 months noticed their greatest animated movie thus far, one more signal of their all-conquering versatility. However regardless of a concerted effort to extend in-house animation, the film in query was tellingly not certainly one of their very own creation however fairly a Covid acquisition, made and primed by Sony for a big-screen launch however panic-sold when cinemas shuttered.
The Mitchells vs the Machines was a deserving chart-topper; humorous and ingenious and of a markedly completely different league than any of Netflix’s self-made cartoons. However its success got here at a notable value, a stinging reminder that even their devoted viewership can sniff out the actual butter (a degree underlined this summer time by the reported success of Amazon’s sci-fi thriller The Tomorrow Battle which was purchased from Paramount). Earlier this 12 months Sony additionally determined to dump their summer time journey Vivo, with Netflix ready with an open door and an open chequebook. Within the wake of the Mitchells milestone, it launches with excessive expectations connected, expectations that edge additional towards the sky with the involvement of Hamilton’s man surprise Lin-Manuel Miranda, stepping out of his Disney deal to grace Sony together with his voice, songs and model attraction.
However whereas Vivo shares the costly sheen and basic good nature of Sony’s final hand-me-down, it falls brief on nearly all the things else, a candy and vibrant musical journey that isn’t fairly candy and vibrant sufficient, coasting on easy pleasures that fade as quickly because the music stops. Whereas Mitchells was decided to blaze its personal path, Vivo is way extra concerned with cribbing from the Pixar playbook, particularly in its opening stretch which tries its darndest to eke emotion out of the form of eccentric set-up that we’ve come to know so nicely. It’s Havana, Cuba, and an aged musician, Andrés (legendary Cuban musician Juan de Marcos González), performs in an area sq. together with his trusty kinkajou, AKA honey bear, Vivo (Miranda). Whereas Vivo’s sing-rap might be understood by us the viewers (even when at instances we want that weren’t the case), to the people that encompass him, all they hear is a squeak. But it surely’s a squeak with rhythm and the 2 make for an uncommon but efficient pairing.
When Andrés’s previous singing companion Marta (Gloria Estefan) will get again in contact after years of silence providing him the possibility to hitch her onstage at her last live performance in Miami, he sees a possibility: to lastly confess the emotions he was by no means courageous sufficient to after they have been younger within the type of a specifically crafted love tune. However tragedy strikes and Vivo has to make the trek by himself to honour his previous pal for the final time.
The opening mixture of surprising dynamic and heart-grabbing tragedy, together with some dazzling animation, could be Pixar by numbers however Miranda’s earnest musical numbers edge us nearer to old-fashioned Disney and as The Croods director Kirk DeMicco tries to coerce his movie in the course of a Venn diagram of each, he struggles to offer it sufficient of its personal persona. Like so many animated movies, the narrative hinges on a manic quest (as Vivo heads to Miami with the assistance of an idiosyncratic younger woman) nevertheless it’s not one which feels imaginative or thrilling sufficient for us to get carried together with it. The areas are minimal, the stakes medium and the characters they meet alongside the best way not fairly amusing or distinctive sufficient. Even Vivo himself is only a standard-issue cute animal and Miranda’s energetic sing-rap combined together with his hand-on-heart present tunes is an acquired style that might maybe be simpler to amass if the songs themselves have been that good (the ultimate quantity, having been teased because the begin, is frustratingly forgettable).
The attention-popping gloss of Vivo will most likely lure in spectacular numbers for Netflix (the animation itself is generic however spectacular) however in a style that guarantees a lot magic, the spell forged by Miranda and co is a short one.