Vivo takes notes from some of the animated Disney movies of old – such as The Lion King, Aristocats or 101 Dalmations – but with an added sense of heart. Vivo is a kinkajou who can communicate with humans through his music. Voiced by Miranda, the small creature raps through the streets of Havana with his owner Andrés (Juan de Marcos González), giving both the character and the film as a whole an incredible sense of musicality.
But when tragedy falls upon the duo, it quickly becomes up to Vivo to venture to Miami, Florida, to deliver a message to an old flame.
Along the way, Vivo encounters a young girl, Gabi (Ynairaly Simo), an atypical but musically gifted person who challenges all social and musical norms.
It is Gabi’s unusual and contemporary methods of making music that causes her to butt-heads with Vivo during their journey.
Over the course of the film, a connection is made between them, creating an extremely satisfying on-screen relationship.
READ MORE: Vivo ‘was inspired by a John Candy movie’
Vivo, as a movie, is entirely representative of what Lin-Manuel Miranda is good at.
First of all, the music throughout the film is completely spectacular.
Not only does the soundtrack offer a collection of catchy, entertaining, and emotional songs, they feel entirely unique.
One song in particular from Gabi (My Own Drum) is so unexpectedly good I was singing it for days.
I presume it would have been easy for Miranda to throw out some ballads reminiscent of some classic Disney hits, but you won’t find that here.
Secondly, Miranda has once again paid a great amount of attention to the heart running through Vivo’s story.
Almost every single moment in the film is either filled with laughs or contains a touching sentiment.
The charming Vivo will certainly go down in history as one of the most endearing furry characters of all time.
Miranda’s Vivo isn’t the only show-stopping performance as the film employs a collection of staggering voices.
As if the likes of Zoe Saldana and Michael Rooker weren’t enough to excite fans, the absolutely legendary Gloria Estefan plays Latina diva Marta Sandoval, giving the production a real sense of prestige.
None of these incredible achievements could have been reached without the animation looking top-notch.
Vivo was created by Sony Pictures Animation Productions, the same team behind Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse and Th Mitchells Vs the Machines.
Every moment in Vivo is fluid, bright, exciting and completely breathtaking – as one might expect.
Pixar ought to look out, Vivo might be the most enjoyable animated film to watch in years.
Where Vivo stands out, however, is when it gives itself a moment to take a step back.
Some scenes break from 3D to tell backstories with a 2D vignette, and – oddly enough – these are some of the most tear-jerking moments. There will certainly not be a dry eye in the house during one of the film’s final moments.
Vivo is a beautifully animated, excellently scored film full of heart and promise. Lin-Manuel Miranda has not only created a timeless story that everyone can relate to, it looks and sounds unbelievable. Do not miss this.