It is a commonly held notion that animation is a genre of film. It isn’t. Animation is a medium that artists can use to express themselves in any number of ways; a genre is a category in which films that share common narrative and stylistic traits are placed. Calling animation a genre limits and confines how you think about the medium, just by the very definition of the word.


Look at a film like “Chico and Rita.” A film that shares nothing in common with what Disney, DreamWorks, or Pixar gives us on a regular basis. It is animated, but there is no way that it exists in the same genre as “WALL-E” or “How to Train Your Dragon” or really anything else that would be released by an American producer of animation.


Telling a story that spans across both borders and generations, “Chico and Rita” follows the two title characters of this music-filled romance. Chico is a young, talented jazz pianist struggling to make it in his native Havana, Cuba. When he hears Rita sing, he knows that he has found a partner for life. Their love story is both tragic and sweet, and dominates most of the film.


The film is as unique and original visually as it is in its narrative. In the characters and backgrounds, it finds a distinct look that is all its own. The camera work is particularly impressive. Some of the best in the history of animation, evoking the Golden Age of Hollywood filmmaking.


“Chico and Rita” is as fun to listen to as it is to look at. What Bebo Valdes did with the music is extraordinary, and he has been rightly acclaimed for his work on the film.


The love story is heartwarming, despite some of the cheesiness. Chico and Rita were well defined as characters, and their romance is believable and charming. You will laugh, you might cry, and you will certainly leave feeling uplifted. A great story well told by seriously talented filmmakers.


“Chico and Rita” is a simply wonderful film. A gorgeous celebration of a time, place, and culture brought to life through beautiful animation. This is not at all a film for children, but you need to check this one out. It is a masterpiece of the form.- 4/4


Have you seen “Chico and Rita?” What did you think? Let me know in the comments below, and tweet me @TuckerPoikonen.