Netflix and Sony Pictures present Vivo streaming exclusively on Netflix from August 6th.
A music-loving kinkajou embarks on the journey of a lifetime to fulfill his destiny and deliver a love song for an old friend.
After the critical praise that In the Heights received earlier this year and with his directorial debut dropping on Netflix next month, Lin-Manuel Miranda is on a hot streak in 2021 and with the latest animated film from Sony Pictures, Vivo, his hot streak continues. Director Kirk DeMicco’s third animated movie is a delightfully sweet yet touching movie that really came out of nowhere and surprised me in more ways than one.
The story tells the story of its titular character, Vivo, a one-of-a-kind kinkajou (aka a rainforest “honey bear,” voiced by Hamilton creator Lin-Manuel Miranda) who spends his days playing music to the crowds in a lively Havana square with his beloved owner Andrés. Though they may not speak the same language, Vivo and Andrés are the perfect duo through their common love for music. After Andrés receives a letter from the famous Marta Sandoval, inviting her old partner to her farewell concert in Miami with the hope of reconnecting, it’s up to Vivo and his newly found friend Gabi to deliver the message that Andrés never could.
From its opening sequence, Vivo oozes with colour and vibrant visuals similar to Pixar’s Luca
did earlier this year. It immerses you into its vibrant setting and allows you to go on a wonderful small scale journey with the characters. Yes, it is a story that has been put on the big and small screen before but that doesn’t stop the film from being an incredibly enjoyable ninety minutes with a kinkajou.
Lin-Manuel Miranda has a handful of great songs inside the film that really took me by surprise. All the songs feel different from one another in a way that always kept the film feel fresh and engaging. Like most musicals, not all the songs were my cup of tea but there are some great sequences with a scene surrounding Gabi’s character being a standout. Miranda’s voice work for Vivo is also great and he really does fit the part that he is playing too.
The film also establishes the small scale stakes of the film incredibly early on in its runtime then never tries to raise them. From the first thirty minutes, you know who all the characters are and their mission and how time is ticking making that tension build instead of the stakes which is not what most animated movies do. Most movies try and throw in another problem for our characters to solve along with the main mission of the film yet Vivo never does that, and instead just increases the ticking time bomb and tension.
However, the story is incredibly predictable and one you have seen before. The story of delivering a message to someone has been used in the likes of Star Wars and 1917 and due to it being a kid’s movie, the second everything is set in motion you know where it is going to go. There isn’t anything that will truly shock you, while feeling like Sony Pictures are getting a home run instead of going for a double (like what they did with The Mitchells vs The Machines).
Vivo will keep children entertained and parents will probably find some enjoyment in there too. Lin-Manuel Miranda crushes it in the leading role and the songs that he’s written are sweet, unique and can tug on the heartstrings at times. It is incredibly formulaic and familiar but if you are looking for an easy ninety minute watch this weekend, Vivo is a perfect film for families to enjoy on a Friday night.