O@tM: Vivo

“I bounce to the beat of my own drum!

I’m a wow in a world full of ho-hum!”


Vivo follows a one-of-kind kinkajou (aka a rainforest “honey bear”) who spends his days playing music to the crowds in a lively 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 of music. But when tragedy strikes shortly after Andrés receives a letter from the famous Marta Sandoval, inviting her old partner to her farewell concert with the hope of reconnecting, it’s up to Vivo to deliver a message that Andrés never could: A love letter to Marta, written long ago, in the form of a song. Yet in order to get to Marta, who lives a world apart, Vivo will need the help of Gabi – an energetic tween who bounces to the beat of her own offbeat drum to fulfill his owner’s wishes. —Netflix

To make it short, I’m sitting on the fence about this one. Thank you, good bye … Nooooo, you know I love my blog and you, dear readers, too much to leave myself off the hook that easily. Maybe it’s too early to put my still kinda fresh impression into words … Noooo, not that either. I’m a big girl and not easily impressed by a ho-hum animated kiddie flick.

Our two main chars are sitting on the same float.

Speaking of ho-hum, maybe it’s that factor, Vivo’s definitive average attempt to be above average ultimately failed. The material was there, the good intentions were there, a good story and good characters were clearly not.

Havana /Cuba was lovely remodeled by the Buena Vista Tourism Club?

Also very very prominently featured in a film clearly made for a very young audience: The total lack of real funny slapstick and jokes. C’mon (Sony) filmmakers, know your audience and learn a thing or two from Pixar and other Disney outlets. Eventho latter didn’t got most things right lately, they have a vast back catalogue showing you how it’s done right!

A funky munky!

So when Vivo wasn’t a LOL comedy it at least had lots of heart, no? No. Not really. Vivo, the title character itself was merely a side show figure, a plot device fulfilling his late master’s last wish. I guess the real protagonist of this movie was Gabi, a rebellious 10 y/o kid on the brink to evolve from a brainsaw child into a stereotypical nerve-wrecking teenage girl. She was quirky, witty, goofy and resourceful. A real role model for 10 y/old wannabe anarchists around the globe. Thinking back to my own childhood, man, I’d have loved her! So hard! Jeeze, was I manipulable back then. Gabi is a manufactured rebel, finely tuned on the drawing board just for that purpose. Sorry parents, you gotta deal with some unruly younglings from now on. And “It’s not just a phase, mom!” for at least the next 2 or 3 months weeks. =^.^=

Miami Sound Machine!

For us grown-up movie aficionados I guess the chars of Andrés and his lost love Marta Sandoval (Gloria Estefan) were most interesting. And here Vivo showed some elegant solution for the big problem. Andrés is dead by now and Marta a big fat lump about to perform her farewell concert. Perfect way to avoid some awkward love scene between two unsexy old geysers. 🙂 Marta sings Andrés’ old love song, Gabi and her mom are not fighting and all is well in the cartoon world. Gabi’s girl scout crew? We lost them somewhere in the ‘glades. Doesn’t matter. Placeholder figures all three of ’em.

The completely useless action sequence with the mamba Lutador (the wasted Michael Rooker) was just a waste of time.

Sooo, most important for American audiences I guess, what about Lin-Manuel Miranda, Gloria Estefan and Zoe Saldana? The first recorded his parts before he came to Hamilton fame afaik, the second is a has-been and the third? I dunno. Was she even in the movie?

Not a possum!


Not as bad a many others, not as good as it should have been, Vivo was dangling between all available chairs. What could have been a coming-of-age journey for both main chars or a funny slapstick LOL fest turned out to be neither. Maybe it was just right for a small minority of 10 y/o girls … if they didn’t fall asleep during the first 10 minutes of the film. The scenes playing on the square in Havana city until Andrés’ death were clearly aimed at an adult group. Andrés character was definately based on the late Ibrahim Ferrer of Buena Vista Social Club fame, and as such far out of the reach of today’s younglings.

I really felt here were two worlds colliding in Vivo. Probably due to studio interference and film-making by committee, both worlds are only shown in a half-baked, ho-hum manner. Particularly what Gabi set out to get rid of. Although Vivo had some ok-ish music, if you like the mambo and son, and was mildly entertaining I have to rate this as a failed project.

Body positive + purple hair + ridiculing a symbol of patriarchal power: I prophesize a great future for little stubby Gabi.

The trailer already shows us all the bestest scenes:

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