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Want to get your little one swim-ready? Learn about holiday specials and winter swim lessons at Goldfish Swim School in West Chester, and watch as we test the waters with our kiddos. (Hint: they LOVED it!)

 

Winter is here, and with snowfall on the ground, pool time might seem far away. But to prepare your little ones for successful swimming this summer, experts say now is the best time to get them in the water.

Goldfish Swim School in West Chester provides swim lessons to children between the ages of 4 months and 12 years old. 

“We offer classes in a unique setting with highly trained instructors, small class sizes (max 4:1 student to teacher ratio), shiver-free 90-degree pools, and a state-of-the-art water purification system,” says Goldfish West Chester General Manager Jen Deis. 

When you take swim lessons with Goldfish Swim School, you don’t have to worry about crazy time slots that keep you at the pool all day long. According to Deis, families with kids of different ages and skill levels can conveniently have all of their swimmers int he pool during the same half-hour time slot. 

Deis says the most important part about getting your kids in the pool, and signing them up for lessons at Goldfish Swim School, is to teach them consistency and repetition for when they hit the pool next summer. Giving them these lessons now will also help them to develop the skills they need to safely enjoy the water as well.

Goldfish Swim School offers more than just swimming lessons. They also offer weekly family swims for both members and non-members in addition to party packages. This allows you to get in the pool with your children and enjoy a little swim time together, adding to the overall swim experience for the whole family.

At the West Chester facility, you’ll find that the facility has an air conditioned viewing gallery for parents to watch lessons, a spacious family dressing area with private changing rooms, a snack bar, a retail shop, and plenty of warm, tropical decor to make you feel like you’ve been transported to a much warmer part of the country!

To encourage you to get your kids in the pool and to teach them water safety, you can call Goldfish Swim School West Chester to schedule a free trial class and to check out the facility for yourself.

If you have a little one you want to get in the water this winter, check out the limited-time-only holiday packages. “Each gift basket includes two months of lesses and the annual membership fee for just $185,” says Deis. “There’s also an option to customize retail items in the basket.”

For more information on the holiday package, or other swim lessons, Deis says you can reach out to Goldfish Swim School Wester Chester, or shop the package online.

Goldfish Swim School is located at 7058 Ridgetop Drive in West Chester. You can register for lessons or learn more about swim lessons by clicking here or calling 513-857-1700. You can also connect with them on Facebook and check out their YouTube channel.

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Inspired to give others more time doing the things they love, one Cincinnati-based man is helping busy moms with a new on-demand concierge service.

 

Ever wish you had more hours in the day to complete everything on your to-do list? THat’s why Bryce Maynard launched Queen City Concierge.

“Queen City Concierge is an on-demand, full service, personal concierge that is based in downtown Cincinnati,” explains Maynard. “Our mission is to give busy moms and professionals more time to do the things they love.

Maynard was inspired to launch his own concierge service because he knows that there are so many out there who have things going on that we never get around to because of other responsibilities.

“Queen City Concierge is going to change that,” he says. “I want to be able to give my clients something none of us can ever buy back, time.”

He wants busy moms to spend more time with their children, spouse, friends, community, and whatever else it is that they’re passionate about. “I grew up in a family of incredibly strong women who all had an inherent drive to take care of everyone around them,” he says. “It did not matter who you were or where you came from, if you came to our house, my family would do anything and everything to make our guests comfortable.”

This family philosophy had a major impact on Maynard, so much so that it’s had an influence on everything he’s done in his life. He says it made him the hard working and detail-oriented person that he is today.

“As my great-grandmother always told me, ‘If you have the ability to help anyone, you’re the luckiest person in the world,’” adds Maynard.

Maynard is the sole founder and operator of Queen City Concierge. He’s lived in Cincinnati for the last five years after moving to the Queen City from Springfield, Ohio. “Cincinnati was starting to become the hot spot for startups and I had to get in on the action,” he says. “I’ve worked as the Marketing Manager of Cincinnati for Uber as well as for Jimmy Gibson of Jimmy G’s as his marketing and sales manager.”

When you shop for concierge services from Queen City Concierge, you’ll find a variety of services such as grocery shopping, light housekeeping, entire home deep cleaning, “wait for” services, home organization, pet services, shopping, special and emergency delivery, party and event staffing, new parent help, home checks and house sitting, moving assistance, and anything else you may need help with.

Maynard says that what makes Queen City Concierge unique is its “on-demand” services and the business model it utilizes. “Our clients aren’t locked into a contract and call us only when they need us,” he says. “I will have to say that this is pretty unique for a person my age to be doing something like this, let alone a young guy starting a concierge business. Being the new guy on the block only gives me that much more of a reason to go above and beyond for my clients.”

Queen City Concierge will continue to help locals accomplish the tasks they need done without sacrificing time with the ones they love. Maynard says Queen City Concierge recently started their gift wrapping services for the holidays. They’re also currently in the process of developing a virtual assistant service for clients that includes answering phones, researching for purchases, client emails, managing schedules and travel arrangements, and more.

Maynard says you can learn more about Queen City Concierge at www.queencc.co. Or you can follow along on Facebook, send an email to bryce@queencc.co, or call 513-268-6890.

 

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A single mom of three is using her creative skills to brighten up homes and workplaces through her watercolor art and originals, graphic design and photography.

 

Lucrecer Braxton, Founder and Owner of Lucrecer Braxton Creative

Cincy Chic: What is Lucrecer Braxton Creative?
Lucrecer Braxton, Founder of Lucrecer Braxton Creative: Lucrecer Braxton Creative is a design business where I specialize in watercolor art and originals, graphic design and photography.

Cincy Chic: What inspired you to launch your own design business?
Braxton: I am inspired by stories. I have always been an artist and I always have a story. I use art to tell and express my story and the stories around me.

Cincy Chic: Who’s behind the business?
Braxton: Me! I am a single mom of three and my kids inspire me to express myself through my art and creativity.

Cincy Chic: When did you launch your business?
Braxton: I officially launched Lucrecer Braxton Creative in the Fall of this year, but it is not my first business.

Cincy Chic: What types of products do you create for clients?
Braxton: Watercolor florals and word art as well as acrylic paintings.

Cincy Chic: What makes Lucrecer Braxton Creative unique?
Braxton: My floral watercolors are authentic and free-flowing. I am a perfectionist and watercolor allows me to freely express myself while creating something people will love. A lot of people are doing calligraphy, but I make a point of using watercolor to create unique pieces of art that look good while inspiring you to be your best you. I want to make custom art accessible to anyone who wants to have something unique in their homes and workspaces.

Cincy Chic: Is there anything new on the horizon for your business?
Braxton: YES! I am planning a few calligraphy and watercolor workshops in the new year. Really looking forward to sharing and encouraging people to embrace their artistic side.

Cincy Chic: Where can readers go to learn more and follow along?
Braxton: I am most active on Instagram and share a lot of what I am doing there. I also have a Facebook page for the business.

 

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Some are saying James Franco achieves his most iconic role in this endearing tribute to failing in Hollywood. Read on as our movie critic weighs in.

James Franco delivers loving lampoon pseudo documentary fitting of The Room with The Disaster Artist

“I did not flub that line … I did naaaattt!” Tommy Wiseau (James Franco) attempts to get one of the most infamous lines in The Room right in a scene from THE DISASTER ARTIST. Credit: Justina Mintz, courtesy of A24.


WATCH THE TRAILER(S) HERE:
 




KEY CAST MEMBERS: James Franco, Dave Franco, Paul Scheer, Ari Graynor, Alison Brie, Jacki Weaver, Josh Hutcherson, Zac Efron and Seth Rogen 

WRITER(S): Scott Neustadter and Michael H. Weber (screenplay); Greg Sestero and Tom Bissell (book, The Disaster Artist: My Life Inside The Room, the Greatest Bad Movie Ever Made on which the film is based)

DIRECTOR(S): James Franco

WEBSITE: https://a24films.com/films/the-disaster-artistHERE’S THE STORY: A film based on the book of the same name about one of the most infamous films of all-time, The Disaster Artist stars Dave Franco as Greg Sestero, a struggling actor living in San Francisco that just can’t find a way to channel his energy into his craft. That is why he admires Tommy Wiseau (James Franco), a wanna be actor who throws everything he has into every scene in every production he’s in. There’s just one problem with that: Tommy is an absolutely, equivocally terrible actor by every stretch of the imagination with no grip on just how bad he is. 

Striking up a friendship with Tommy, Greg soon comes to discover his eccentricities: There’s his unique accent, which rings more European than New Orleans as Tommy claims to be … There’s his seemingly endless supply of money despite having no discernible source of income and the apartment in L.A. that Tommy just says Greg should move into when they head to Hollywood to make it big. But while Greg lands a few small roles with a possible shot at the big time, Tommy is not so lucky … Which leads the latter to coming up with an idea that will change both of their lives forever: Write and star in their own movie to show Hollywood they can make it on their own.If you’ve seen the actual movie they made – The Room – you know what they made. What you may not know, however, is just how crazy the film’s shoot was and how it has become what is often referred to as “the Citizen Kane of bad movies,” but you will … 

WHO WILL LIKE THIS FILM THE MOST? Just about anyone who has seen The Room with a group of people Rocky Horror Picture-style; James Franco fans; people who will come to love this film based on what they later discover about The Room; those will embrace the film’s loving homage to a well-intentioned disaster

WHO WON’T (OR SHOULDN’T) LIKE THIS MOVIE? People who haven’t seen The Room so that they can properly understand the lovable lunacy of the original film

SO IS IT GOOD, BAD OR JUST AWFUL? James Franco was nominated but ultimately did not win the award for Best Actor when 127 Hours was released back in 2010. His performance, which chronicled the near demise of Aron Ralston, the hiker who had to amputate his own arm in order to survive an ill-fated trip to Blue John Canyon in 2003. The film required Franco to channel what was arguably his (at the time) most serious effort on celluloid. With The Disaster Artist, Franco could earn his second acting nomination while earning his first directing one – for The Disaster Artist is a comedic, loving homage made to a film that likely should have never been made that fortunately inspired one of the most entertaining releases of 2017.

Make no mistake about it: The Room is a bad movie. Like, really bad. Like “How in the world did someone think this was a good idea, let alone reportedly sink $6 million of their own money into it?!” bad. But it was done with such earnest sincerity that while it is incredibly easy to make fun of, there is (dare I say) an all-American “can-do” spirit to it that one almost has to admire it – or at least now can from afar. Capturing this spirit is what Franco (James more so than Dave only because the elder brother also directs the picture) do so well with The Disaster Artist: Showcasing just how bad and insane everything was at conceivably every turn while yet capturing the simple dream of making something that will be a classic that Wiseau (and Sestero) had hoped to make. 

An obvious student of the film, Franco lets no nuance or moment go unnoticed (a fact which makes the post-credits montage so entertaining) while at the same time carefully riding the line between roasting and showing pity upon its two main subjects. From the insane wardrobe to the unnecessary sets/bad camera work to the weird dialogue, fans of the original Room will be thrilled to watch the moments recreated by the in-on-the-joke Franco and company that Wiseau was blissfully unaware he was creating. Whereas the younger Franco brings all of Sestero’s concerns to life in empathic fashion, Franco nails every moment as the completely unaware yet admirable for his efforts Wiseau, down to his body movements, reactions and his unmistakable vocal inflections. 

Throw in great supporting performances from Rogen as an utterly confused crew member and others as equally stymied cast players and The Disaster Artist is part lampoon and part pseudo-documentary, building to an ending that shows how Wiseau ultimately did what he set out to do … Even if it was not how he imagined it all.

But if you’re looking for a film so creative it’s no longer becomes hard to imagine anyone being willing to make one about one of the worst movies of all time, The Disaster Artist proves one man’s trash is audience’s treasure if the right amount of love and lunacy are present.

OVERALL RATING (OUT OF FOUR POSSIBLE BUCKETS OF POPCORN):

 
 

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Inspired by her childhood passion, a Kentucky woman created a treehouse village with her husband and father, making for a unique weekend getaway experience!

 

Earth Joy Treehouse Village offers a secluded getaway in a treehouse.

If you’re looking for a world of outdoor adventure, you’ll find it at Earth Joy Treehouse Village. Located in Brooksville, Kentucky, about an hour southeast of Cincinnati.

Owned by Shelly Byrne, alongside her father and husband, Earth Joy Treehouse Village is what Byrne calls a “world of adventure in one place.”

The Village has two tree houses, both of which are available to rent, in addition to 200 acres of trails with surprises along the way like a three-person hammock, hobbit tree houses, creeks, ponds, and an abandoned frontier cabin open for exploration.

“Plus, you can sign up for guided tree climbs,” says Byrne. “Bill will take you step-by-step to the top of the trees, and we’ve partnered with a local horseback company to offer horseback riding as well.”

Shelly and Bill Byrne

Earth Joy Treehouse Village opened in 2007, and was a long awaited dream of Byrne’s. “My older brother, younger sister, and I would spend hours in our woods pretending we lived in tree houses,” explains Byrne. “We built borders with twigs and used rocks as our furniture.”

It was also a way for Byrne to deal with things that were going on in her life, such as her grandmother losing her battle with cancer. So, Byrne wanted to open up a place of treehouses that would help guests get out and enjoy the outdoors in the same way she did when she was younger.

There are two treehouses at Earth Joy Treehouse Village: The Pete Nelson and The Aliyahs.

Byrne says the Pete Nelson treehouse is famous and is known as the Kentucky Climbers Cottage, and the story behind the build was shown on Treehouse Masters more than 20 times.

The house is comprised of a timber frame that sleeps two adults and four children. “It features an upstairs full loft with a Casper mattress,” says Byrne. “Large barn doors open to bring the outside in and there’s a cozy wood burning stove and large deck. It also has a full kitchenette and an outdoor propane grill.”

The Aliyahs treehouse features a big red oak tree in the middle of the living room. It has a loft that sleeps two, a swinging bridge that leads you to the “snuggle palace” that sleeps four, and has quaint patio furniture, a fire pit, a full kitchenette, and is propane heated.

When you stay at Earth Joy Treehouse Village, you’ll find that the treehouses can be combined with guided tree climbs. The 5-star facility is privately owned and also offers retreats for women, health care professionals, couples, and other team building programs.

Although they recently added The Aliyah to the compound, Byrne says that she and her husband and father will be adding another treehouse to the property as well as all-terrain golf carts that can take guests from the treehouse to the front of the property.

To learn more about Earth Joy Treehouse Village or to book your stay, visit climbky.com. You can also check out The Aliyah and Pete Nelson Airbnb listings.

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When touched by the world’s refugee crisis, a local Miami University professor was inspired to open her own store selling Fair Trade items from makers around the globe.

 

SoulCraft Middletown sells Fair Trade items from makers around the world.

Cincy Chic: What is SoulCraft Middletown?
Lauren Matus, Owner of SoulCraft Middletown: SoulCraft is a fair trade store location in revitalizing downtown Middletown. We sell only fair-trade verified, handmade products from artisans across the world.

Cincy Chic: What’s the inspiration behind the store?
Matus: The recent refugee crisis was the inspiration for opening SoulCraft. I had been teaching a course on nonprofits and NGOs at Miami University and the topic of fair trade came up. My students suggested that I open a store, so I did! Really, the store is a way to encourage conscientious consumerism and to education customers about a fair trade standards. Every item in the store tells a story, and preserves the cultural heritage of the artists who handcraft it.

 

Cincy Chic: Who’s behind SoulCraft Middletown?
Matus: I am the sole owner of the shop. I am a former writing instructor-turned-entrepreneur. I moved to Middletown about four years ago and was excited for the opportunity to be a part of the positive changes in downtown.

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Cincy Chic: When did you open SoulCraft Middletown?
Matus: SoulCraft opened on November 26, 2016 – Small Business Saturday

 

Cincy Chic: What makes SoulCraft unique?
Matus: SoulCraft’s name reflects the spirit of the store – the artists who make the items I sell have perfected their craft and put their souls into creating beautiful pieces.

Cincy Chic: What types of items do you carry in-store?
Matus: We sell jewelry, clothing, home decor, and unique gifts.

Cincy Chic: Where can readers go to learn more and follow along?
Matus: We haven’t launched our website yet, but readers can follow us on Facebook!  

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Struggling to find the time and motivation to shed post-baby pounds? This local lady’s four-week slim down course teaches everything you need to know about nutrition and exercise after baby.

 

Allie Janszen, Founder of Pretty Fit Momma, with her family. Photography by Katie Yannucci

As a mom of two and Labor and Delivery nurse, Cincinnati-based Allie Janszen understands the struggle of getting back into shape post baby. After she had her son, her energy level was low, she felt self-conscious about her postpartum body, none of her clothes fit comfortably, and she felt generally out of shape. She says that’s when she knew she needed to make a change.

Janszen began shifting her focus from under-eating and overexercising to reaping the benefits of a healthier relationship with food paired with specific workouts. “My body transformed from being sluggish and uncomfortable into a powerful, lean, energetic, and healthy body,” Janszen says. “I felt more confident in my own body than I had ever felt in my entire life.”

Pretty Fit Mama was created for other mamas who are searching for a healthy fitness and nutrition program that truly works, is sustainable for life, and can be shared with your family, says Janszen.

The main focus of Pretty Fit Mama is on whole food nutrition, learning how to track macro-nutrients (carbs, proteins, and fats) and eating to fuel our bodies properly for specific workouts.

In the four weeks of the program you can expect to get your midsection back, become educated on what Diastasis Recti is and exercises that can help, learn lactation information and tips from an L&D Nurse, and discover the best diet and exercise for breastfeeding.

Allie Janszen, Founder of Pretty Fit Mama

“As moms we are prone to feeling guilty if we don’t put our kids and family first all the time (and if we’re being honest, almost everyone else, too)!” says Janszen. “But you can’t draw from your own well if you never fill it.  Your health is essential to being able to meet your everyday demands. I want to empower you with the grace and time you need to get and stay healthy and feel confident in your own body!”

Pretty Fit Mama is completely online and helps hold you accountable with a Facebook community of women with the same goals in mind. “We also have fun challenges throughout both programs (Pretty Fit Mama and FASTer Way to Fat Loss) where my ladies can win fun prizes (think workout gear, equipment and gift cards),” explains Janszen.

Janszen’s other fitness and nutrition program, FASTer Way to Fat Loss, is for women of all ages: from college girls to postmenopausal women. “This is for ladies who are looking to lose fat, slim down, and tone up,” she says.

To get a headstart on the Christmas Madness, Janszen is also offering a quick course to cutting belly fat fast with her 12 Day of Fitmas, starting on December 11. “It will be priced at $39 – which is an AMAZING deal. These ladies will be provided with meal ideas and meal prep checklists, a guide on how to intermittent fast, and workouts for each day,” says Janszen.

Pretty Fit Mama starts a new round on January 1st to help get you started on your New Year Resolutions. “You want to make healthy changes now, which is why I’ve created this program,” says Janszen. “You’ll lose weight, get your energy back, sleep better and feel confident as a woman and mother.  I’ll give you the tools you need to easily achieve your goals and live the healthy lifestyle you want.”

The Pretty Fit Mama program along with all others can be found on Janszen’s website.

 

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There’s a provocative and playful new exhibit featuring female and feminist artists. Read on to see how long you have to check it out and why you should!

 

“The Future is Female” is a new exhibit at Cincinnati’s 21c Museum Hotel. Zoe Buckman (English) Champ, 2016 Neon, glass, leather

Cincy Chic: What is “The Future is Female” exhibit at 21c Museum Hotel?
Alice Gray Stites, 21c Museum Hotels’ Chief Curator and Museum Director: Investigating identity, consumer culture, ecology, history, mythology, and power, the art featured in The Future is Female illuminates both the consequences and the persistence of the struggle for equality. Featuring female artists from around the world, the broad range of media and subject matter presented reflects the ongoing influence of the art of the Second Wave Women’s Liberation movement.

Cincy Chic: What’s in the exhibit?
Gray Stites: The Future is Female features nearly 60 works by 43 female and feminist artists including important new works by Valérie Belin, Zoë Buckman, Frances Goodman, Zanele Muholi, Vee Spears, and Saya Woolfalk on view for the first time.

Cincy Chic: How long will “The Future is Female” be on display?
Gray Stites: The Future is Female will be on display at 21c Museum Hotel Cincinnati through September 2018.

Cincy Chic: What makes this exhibit unique?
Gray Stites: Feminist artists have long lent a powerful voice to the cause for not only gender equality, but equity in many forms. In today’s sociopolitical climate, voices speaking for equality and equity are more important than ever before.

Cincy Chic: Where can readers go to learn more about the exhibit and check it out?
Gray Stites: 21c’s commitment to accessibility means opening our doors to the public, free of charge, 24 hours a day, seven days a week. All are welcome. The best way to learn more about the exhibition is to come see it in person. We offer free docent tours on Wednesdays and Fridays at 5 p.m. In addition to engaging wall texts, guests can pick up a brochure on property, or visit 21cMuseumHotels.com.

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Read on as our relationship columnist explains how maintaining a healthy sex life can strengthen your relationship, improve mood and increase your chances for future happiness.

 

“It’s not that I don’t want to have sex. It’s just that sex is not even on my radar,” says my client, a 30-something year old mom of two who lives with her husband of five years. These days we, as women, wear so many different hats throughout the day that sex and intimacy tend to keep getting demoted on our list of priorities. It’s really not a matter of not wanting sex, not being attracted to our partner or not being in love with our partner; by the end of the day there is truly nothing left to give.  Depletion leads to stress and stress is kryptonite to eroticism.

When sex becomes the last thing on your to-do list it’s a good indication that your relationship has taken a place on the back burner as well. The reasoning behind this is because our relationships and our sex lives have a cyclical relationship. If our relationship become resentful and negative then you don’t have sex. Not having sex causes more resentment and negativity in the relationship, and so on.

We all go through peaks and pits of frequency and quality of sex; this is normal. I work with many women who have recently had children and are breastfeeding. Nine times out of ten they tell me, “I am being pawed at all day long. And it already feels like my body doesn’t belong to me anymore…I don’t want to give my body to anyone else.” This makes sense, and is an absolutely natural and necessary part of the parenting process. Being moms also comes with a whole lot of changes. The result: body image issues. How can we enjoy sex if we can’t stop thinking about how awful we look naked? It is important to remember that we are and always will be our own harshest critic. Our partners can almost always look past any flaws we think we see.

So how do you prevent this stage from wreaking havoc on your relationship? During this time, it is important to facilitate open and honest communication with your partner so that they understand and don’t feel completely isolated and rejected. Situations like these only become problematic if they becomepermanent or if communication with your partner shuts down.

It’s hard to remember why we put ourselves through all of this, but being in a stable, happy relationship is a luxury. Oftentimes we take our partner for granted. Ask yourself, “once all of this craziness settles down, will my relationship still be in tacked? Will this all be worth it?” Hopefully the answer is yes.Beginning to distance yourself for the day-to-day chaos and look at the big picture can help you remember why prioritizing your relationship is so important.

One of the first questions I always ask my clients who are struggling with low interest in sex is, “do you want to want to have sex?” and the answer is almost always a resounding “yes!”. Women’s desire looks a whole lot Women tend to begin to experience sexual desire halfway through the sexual experience. Being open to intimacy with your partner and shifting the goal from orgasm to connection can help us relax and enjoy closeness with our partner. Also, research has shown that the more you have sex the more you want it. This doesn’t mean having sex when you don’t want to, but being open to closeness, cuddling, touch and intimacy. Human beings need physical touch- it reduces stress and increases bonding.

Remember, it’s a marathon, not a race. Putting energy and effort into our relationships (this includes our sex lives) reaps huge rewards. Set time aside, help your partner feel special and allow yourself to receive the love that is being given.

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Disney•Pixar brings Mexican culture and music to life in this animated film. See if our movie critic says it’s worthy of a family fiesta to go and see it in theaters.

 

“We have no Auto-Tune … I hope we’re good!” Aspiring musician Miguel (voice of Anthony Gonzalez) teams up with a charming trickster named Héctor (voice of Gael García Bernal) to unravel a generations-old family mystery. Their extraordinary journey through the Land of the Dead includes an unexpected talent show performance of “Un Poco Loco,” an original song in the son-jarocho style of Mexican music written by co-director Adrian Molina and Germaine Franco for the film. Credit: © 2017 Disney•Pixar. All rights reserved.
 

WATCH THE TRAILER(S) HERE: 



KEY CAST MEMBERS: Anthony Gonzalez, Gael García Bernal, Benjamin Bratt, Alanna Ubach, Renee Victor and Jamie Camil 

WRITER(S): Lee Unkrich, Jason Katz, Matthew Aldrich and Adrian Molina (original story by); Matthew Aldrich and Adrian Molina (screenplay)

DIRECTOR(S): Lee Unkrich & Adrian Molina

WEB SITE: http://movies.disney.com/cocoHERE’S THE STORY: Miguel (voiced by Anthony Gonzalez) is a boy who loves music … and that’s a problem because in his family – in the wake of his great grandfather Ernesto (Benjamin Bratt) who left them to become the greatest musician the world has ever known – music is seen as nothing short of pure evil that rips relatives apart. Miguel, however, is undeterred in his quest to become a musician himself, which is why on the Day of the Dead – in which families visit the graves of their lost loved ones – Miguel sneaks over to the mausoleum containing a guitar that once belonged to Ernesto. But once Miguel plays the guitar, he  – along with his faithful dog Dante – finds himself now in the land of the dead, which is where he sees several family members including his Mamá Imelda (Alanna Ubach), who will only give Miguel her blessing to return to the land of the living on one condition: He give up his dream of becoming a musician forever.

Of course, this makes Miguel hightail it away from Mamá Imelda and the rest of his family, which is how he runs into Hector (Gael García Bernal), a trickster desperate for Miguel to return to the land of the living and take his picture with him. Why you ask? All will be revealed throughout the course of the night.

All Miguel has to do is stay alive in the land of the dead long enough to bring our story full circle.

WHO WILL LIKE THIS FILM THE MOST? Disney•Pixar fans; people who will find the story culturally respectful and enriching

WHO WON’T (OR SHOULDN’T) LIKE THIS MOVIE? Those who will see the film as somehow not following enough realities of Mexican culture

SO IS IT GOOD, BAD OR JUST AWFUL? At this point, Disney•Pixar has pretty much proven anything they release is gold; Coco – a film that cleverly reveals its title’s significance late in the story – is just evidence that the company can make it regardless of what language/culture its character make speak or from which they come.  

Coco features superb visuals, an original story with enough twists to entertain adults while making children smile; then again, it wouldn’t quite be a Disney•Pixar movie without some testing of your tear ducts, so one should expect the heartfelt story to make having a box of Kleenex close by a good idea. The vocal cast – Gonzalez in particular – nails each of their roles to the point you forget you are watching an animated film as the exploration of the Land of the Dead is fantastically splayed across the screen. There is enough depth to each of the critical characters to keep the story moving along at a brisk pace, all while co-writers/directors Lee Unkrich & Adrian Molina provide a rich landscape of both music and humanity akin to Disney classics of yesteryear.

In short, if there is a flaw with the film, it may be that the film wraps up so succinctly you wonder how in the world its creative team will come up with a sequel worthy of Coco itself; for one will likely be heavily inclined to want to spend time with its characters again.

Who knew a journey to the Land of the Dead could be so life affirming?

OVERALL RATING (OUT OF FOUR POSSIBLE BUCKETS OF POPCORN):