Vivo 2021 Movie Review Poster Trailer Online
Directors: Kirk DeMicco, Brandon Jeffords
Vivo is a musical kinkajou who busks in Cuba with his owner and who needs to get a message to his masters’s long-lost love.
It felt inevitable that Lin-Manuel Miranda would turn to children’s movies at some point. Not just because everyone wants a piece of the Hamilton and In The Heights creator’s magic touch, but also because his work has a natural levity and warmth that always felt like it would lend itself to a younger audience.
It absolutely does. Vivo is the touching story of a Cuban kinkajou (a rainforest honey bear, voiced by Miranda himself; he also wrote the film’s 11 songs), who busks with his owner Andrés (Juan de Marcos González) in Havana’s Plaza Vieja.
The two may not speak the same language but they are musically in sync, opening the film with trademark Miranda Latino rap: “We are part of a time-honoured tradition/of timing and precision/your finest musicians…”
It’s a refreshing shot in the arm for musical animation (Sony’s first – what a coup!), if a little too redolent at points of Miranda’s earlier successes. You may find yourself humming “Aaron Burr, Sir” and finding the beats fit practically perfectly.
One day a tragedy sends Vivo to Florida with a mission which he must complete on behalf of Andrés with his new companion, Gabi (Ynairaly Simo), a purple-haired tween who makes clear in an excellent percussive rap number that she dances to the beat of her own drum, thank you very much.
Miranda came up with the project years ago (though it has since been scripted and directed by others) and it is suffused with his familiar cheerfulness, even if the story itself sometimes feels a little well-worn (the run-in with a snake and the cookie-cutter eco-warriors felt a little animation-by-committee).
Vivo is a charming creature, but it is his pairing with the indomitable Gabi that really makes their adventures through the Everglades memorable, forming an edgy but tender ensemble as they meet the bright lights of Miami.