Musical Adventure for Young & Old
Although Lin-Manuel Miranda’s original songs add to the entertainment quality of Vivo, the cute title character steals the show. Vivo (voiced by Miranda) looks like a monkey but he’s a kinkajou -- or honey bear -- found in a crate by Andrés (voiced by Juan de Marcos), an elderly street musician in Havana. Lucky for Andrés, Vivo has talents of his own and fits right into the man’s show which he presents regularly in a neighborhood plaza.
Fortunately for viewers, the film branches out to other cinematic locations including Key West, the Everglades and Miami. When Andrés receives a letter from Marta Sandoval (voiced beautifully by Gloria Estefan), the woman he loves who is now a popular singing star, he feels so excited because she has invited him to be a guest at her last concert in Miami. He has written a song for her and wants to give it to Marta. But fate steps in -- and Andrés can’t make the trip. That means Vivo will have to do it for him.
The film then turns into a road trip like you’ve never seen before! All kinds of obstacles stand in Vivo’s, way including menacing weather, transportation problems, and a hungry giant python (voiced by Michael Rooker) obsessed with silence. Will the courageous kinkajou and his helpers get to Miami in time for the concert -- and with Andrés’ song in one piece? We desperately want that to happen, of course!
Speaking of helpers, some of them start out being obstacles themselves. For example, Andrés niece Gabi (voiced by Ynairaly Simo), one of the most energetic young girls I’ve seen depicted on screen, doesn’t think much of Vivo at first. But it’s fun watching the friendship between these two characters grow as the adventure unfolds.
A furry creature named Vivo
enjoys performing in a show.
He loves percussion and to dance
Street musician gave him a chance.
When sadness comes, Vivo must make
a trip from Cuba for love’s sake.
Deliver a song for his friend
whose love not spoken did not end.
“Vivo” shares music everywhere.
and it makes audiences care.
Animation and color pop
with Cuban music and hip-hop.
It’s fun for young and old to see.
Story and action sure charmed me.
Kudos to co-directors Kirk DeMicco and Brandon Jeffords as well as to screenplay writer Quiara Alegria Hudes plus all the film’s artists for the creative sensitivity they’ve put into this delightful computer-animated film. Lin-Manual Miranda also deserves praise for his original songs. My favorites are “My Own Drum,” “One of a Kind,” “Keep the Beat,” “Love’s Gonna Pick You Up,” “One More Song,” and “Inside Your Heart.”
And finally, you gotta love Vivo’s acrobatic dancing and Fedora hat!
(Released by Neflix and rated “PG” by MPAA.)