Cert – U, Run-time – 1 hour 35 minutes, Director – Kirk DeMicco
Kinkajou Vivo (Lin-Manuel Miranda) travels from Cuba to Florida to deliver an old love song from his owner (Juan de Marcos González) to a long-distant retiring musician (Gloria Estefan).
After the fizzing energy of this summer’s In The Heights Lin-Manuel Miranda returns to power another film’s musical soundtrack in the form of Sony Animation’s latest, Vivo. Miranda, who has formulated the idea for well over a decade, takes on the titular lead role of a Cuban kinkajou, happily spending his days singing and dancing in the streets with his elderly human counterpart Andrés (Juan de Marcos González). However, despite the close bond between the two that fuels their crowd-drawing performances Andrés has a musical past that Vivo is unaware of. It comes calling him back when former romantic interest Marta (Gloria Estefan) writes from Florida asking her former collaborator to perform in her farewell show. Andrés views this as a sign to finally deliver a years old love song he wrote when the pair parted, him unable to express his proper feelings towards her all those decades ago when the opportunity of success and bigger audiences arose for Marta.
Despite initial protests Vivo finds himself travelling to the much busier suburban streets of Tampa. Separated from his friend he instead finds himself in the company of unruly and enthusiastic child Gabi (Ynairaly Simo). Preferring to do anything but spend time selling cookies with the other, much more passionate, Sand Dollar Scouts (a trio of which are the source of many of the film’s best jokes), Gabi takes it upon herself to assist Vivo in travelling the four hour plus journey to Miami to deliver Andrés’ song to Marta before it’s too late. Along the road, or rather throughout the jungle-like environment in which they find themselves drifting into, there’s plenty of musical numbers and brightly-coloured characters within the Roger Deakins assisted world to keep things moving, each providing a decent amount of amusement in their own way. Alongside avoiding giving the film a slightly episodic feel around the mid-section when briefly; and often conveniently, popping in and out of the proceedings.
It’s obvious that Miranda is behind the soundtrack. The songs have a distinct style and feel to them that, especially when he performs them himself, pulse with his energy. Yet, personally, nothing completely stands out as potentially memorable. The tracks are certainly good for the time that they’re on, but none properly grab you or bring you further into the world or unfolding journey. What starts and ends as a film with music as a core point doesn’t exactly push it aside, but perhaps somewhat dims it in exchange for more focus on the story. Although, the songs aren’t forgotten about and are certainly still present throughout. The majority seem to be somewhat forgettable and appear to be moved on from rather quickly, not leaving a great deal of impact afterwards. And while the film itself might not leave a great impact on the viewer it’s certainly a good source of entertainment while it’s on. At a short 95 minutes it certainly doesn’t outstay its welcome and provides decent enough mid-summer family streaming fare.
Like the musical numbers, Vivo’s perhaps not going to be the most memorable, however it’s amusing mid-summer family content for the time it’s on.