Bounce To The Beat

VIVO - (L-R) Gabi (voiced by Ynairaly Simo) and Vivo (voiced by Lin-Manuel Miranda). ©2021 SPAI. All Rights Reserved.

By Paul Hall

Joy. If there is anything every individual on the planet needs, it’s joy.

The new animated release featuring all-new original songs from Lin-Manuel Miranda will take joy and infuse it in your veins when you tune in to dance and sing with Vivo on Netflix.

Andrés Hernandez (voice of Juan de Marcos González) is an extremely talented street musician working in the delightful multicolored squares of Havana, Cuba. Along with his trusted kinkajou, Vivo (Miranda), he has entertained countless locals and visitors to the city at the hub of the island. But all good things eventually come to an end, and as a letter arrives, it means a trip to see an old friend, Marta Sandoval (Gloria Estefan) in Miami.

But a trip that was supposed to include Andrés and Vivo has changed, and now Vivo will travel to Florida with young Gabi (Ynairaly Simo) and her mom Rosa (Zoe Saldana), though no one will know the kinkajou is in the young girl’s luggage. When Gabi finds Vivo came along to Miami, the screams ensue and the friendship blossoms, but can they trust each other to deliver one final song from Andrés?

Vivo quickly flexes its Miranda Muscle as we experience “One of a Kind” and pass the hat in the opening musical sequence of the film, and from that moment forward I was moving in my seat and I still haven’t stopped singing much of the music that pumped throughout the film. Rhythms that you can’t help but move to are an integral part of the film and invite smiles in viewers.

This soundtrack with songs from Miranda and music from Alex Lacamoire, who got to explore his own Cuban roots with the composition, shows a true love for the island beats. Even the successful Cuban musician González gets to showcase the music and the feelings that he loves. All those with roots on the Caribbean island provide the joy we feel.

Characters created by writer/director Kirk DeMicco and writer Quiara Alegría Hudes bring us people who are relatable, fun and altogether exciting to watch along the journey. I adore Simo’s work here as Gabi. As she and Vivo head through the Florida Everglades, I found myself mesmerized by the masterful level of detail in the look of a seldom-seen part of America.

Friends are hard to make at any age, and the friendship developed between Gabi and Vivo shows it doesn’t take language, it doesn’t take anything more than accepting each other for who we are and experiencing the joy that lies within each and every one of us.

Beautiful settings, colorful characters and a fun storyline make Vivo a beat worth keeping at any age. A classic road movie at its core, Vivo will have young and old laughing, crying and dancing to the beat together.

Vivo is a film that plays as a love letter to the Cuban people, the land, the culture, and most importantly the rhythms and music that emanate from within. Find joy, check out Vivo, let your voice and rhythm be heard.

Paul’s Grade: A

Rated PG
Stars: Lin-Manuel Miranda, Ynairaly Simo, Zoe Saldana, Juan de Marcos González, Gloria Estefan
Directors: Kirk DeMicco, Brandon Jeffords