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Chico & Rita Reviews

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Super Reviewer

May 15, 2013
A jazz pianist and a flamenco dancer fall in love but split during political turmoil.
This foreign animated film is a nice albeit predictable love story. The characters make all the mistakes of youth, but the story is told with a certain deftness that made me forgive the film its inadequacies. The animation is good, naturalistic at times, frenetic during the jazzy scenes, attempting to take on the "look of the music," and oddly sexy where appropriate.
Overall, I enjoyed this film even if I didn't think it had anything new to offer.
Alexander D

Super Reviewer

February 8, 2012
What makes the film so grandiose is the deeply sensuous atmosphere created by the applauding, dreamlike glow through which the music is viewed. It's not the kind I would download on my iPod prior to viewing Chico & Rita, but this unique display may be just enough to pique my interest. Now and then, I would close my eyes and let the jazz create iridescent images in my mind. Only upon opening my eyes again did I find the film's own visuals providing even more engrossing interpretations. The story garners extra love for how it so gorgeously assesses the endless warmth, and how that eventually edges over into a rather frozen feeling. During the former half of the film, we begin warming up with the characters, something rare for an animated movie. Their travels are not escalated by fame, but by desire. During the latter half of the film, Rita uses her makeup to write heartbreaking messages to Chico on the bathroom mirror. There is such an overwhelming amount of character development in the former half, you can almost smell the pungent streaks of lipstick. The most unbearable heartbreak is when the entire experience is over.
Mark H

Super Reviewer

June 14, 2011
The story arc may have the clichéd trajectory of a Behind the Music TV episode, but that's because so many showbiz careers really have followed that career path. The main characters aren't particularly likeable but they're very authentic. They behave like human beings driven by lust and greed. These individuals curse, smoke, do drugs and have sex. They're not sensitive or cloying. What they are is a convincing depiction of real people and attitudes of a certain time period. That uniqueness is kind of refreshing. But most of all, this is a love letter to a bygone era made by aficionados who truly appreciate Latin jazz, which was essentially a mixture of bebop and Cuban folk. It's a visually lush and beguiling re-creation that earned this a surprise Oscar nomination for Best Animated Feature. The picture draws attention to this beautiful music and I can think of worse things than reveling in these poetic rhythms for 94 minutes.
Anthony L

Super Reviewer

June 14, 2011
Wow, I've given a few 5 star ratings recently but I would give this film more if I could. Chico & Rita is a classic love story, beautifully animated and featuring some fantastic Cuban music. It is both heart-wrenching and heartwarming and I can't believe how overlooked it is. Flixster friends, do yourself a favour and see this film, my silly little review will never do it justice. Dignified but not Disneyfied, very passionate and quite sensual too, move over Jessica Rabbit, Rita's in town!

Super Reviewer

March 13, 2012
Chico is currently an old man living in Havana. One day, he hears a song that he wrote fifty years before and is transported back to 1948 when he and his friend Ramon were out clubbing with two American women. But Chico has eyes for no one but Rita, a shapely singer, who hardly gives him the time of day and leaves with an American date with Chico sadly not getting any closer to knowing her any better. But Ramon helps find her at the Tropicana, the hottest nightclub in town and then Chico and Rita finally hit it off. But not before a close escape from the American paramour, thus allowing Chico and Rita to make beautiful music that night while Ramon gets to spend the night with the American women.

"Chico and Rita" is an exuberant and bittersweet animated film that is both nostalgic and anti-nostalgic. For the first, it satisfies the viewer's need for hand drawn animation to expressionistically recapture a lost world of great music and artists, including a few cameos and apparently one true life incident thrown in, centered around a tempestuous love affair that both inflames and inspires. Along these same lines, this world is not as pretty as memory recalls, which the straight lines of computer animation could not capture, with the subjects of racism and questions about whether Cuba is better off after the revolution coming to light.
Christopher H

Super Reviewer

February 4, 2012
Though all of the characters come off completely unlikeable at times, the romantic and musical natures of Chico & Rita pull this nod to old school, hand-drawn animation to new heights. The plot is engaging, taking a different route from most animated features we experience these days, and even allowing for nudity and sex. Chico & Rita is a true-love narrative that keeps its leads apart for most of the film. The story is told through flashbacks, as Chico, aged, sits at a table looking through a box of his memories. He remembers being a talented pianist with his agent Ramon. He remembers meeting Rita and falling for her, but there is always an obstacle to present itself in keeping them apart. Chico & Rita really is a great film, both for an animated film and a narrative. Few films can effectively utilize a "full spectrum" plot or a plot that follows characters throughout their entire lives, but this film achieves that feat wonderfully.
Daniel P

Super Reviewer

January 30, 2012
I was expecting a masterpiece, but it's pretty passable, music excepted. I found both Chico and Rita mostly rather irritating characters, and their relationship seemed mostly founded on shallowness.
Remi L

Super Reviewer

February 11, 2012
Classic love story. Boy meets girl. Boy and girl fall in love. Boy and girl fall in and out of love. Boy follows girl from pre-Castro Cuba to New York. Beautiful soundtrack, beautiful animation. The animators deserve an award at the very least. Its amazing how they mad the background animation look hand-drawn yet 3D, and all without extorting viewers to buy those stupid glasses. Lovely Latin jazz music, not to mention a nice history lesson. My only beef is that male animators always seem to use cartoons as an excuse for gratuitous nude and/or pantie shots. You've got adults in the audience. Try not alienate them with the pervy teenager antics, yeah?
July 10, 2014
I have to give the film credit for depicting a story not usually seen in animation, but I just wasn't able to connect with either of the characters, and the setting of 40's jazz world didn't engage me either.
October 29, 2012
This musical celebration of Cuban culture is a one-of-a-kind cartoon for adults, blending incredibly cool animation with great music and a heart-warming story. At the center of this story is the outstanding soundtrack by Cuban pianist Bebo Valdes. This music ties together the expansive story that takes place over 60 years from Cuba to New York City to Las Vegas. The Spanish-spoken film is far from family friendly, including nudity and murder, but the entire thing develops like a beautiful painting that brings the Cuban music scene to life. It was honored by being the first Spanish film nominated for a Best Animated Feature Film Oscar and has the quality about it that will keep me watching it over and over again. "Chico & Rita" is a unique animated film that touches on some serious themes while being as visually stunning as it is aurally beautiful.
June 13, 2012
When the Academy Award nominations were announced last January; in the category of Best Animated Feature a major surprise occurred: Rather than the assumed lock for Pixar's fairly underrated Cars 2, and the partial lock for Rio, two little known foreign films by the names of A Cat In Paris and Chico and Rita were nominated instead. While admittedly some thought Chico and Rita would snag a nomination (and no one could've possibly guessed the latter film, no matter how many children's film festivals they'd been to), the very existence of this Spanish export was relative news to me. A simultaneously innocent and fairly mature animated drama set in 1948, two struggling artists (named Chico and Rita of course) attempt to handle their undeniable attraction for the other, while trying to share their united love of music with the harsh, and constantly changing world around them. While this plot seemed predictable and slightly generic, I was compelled to see this film by its upset nomination, and the gorgeous visuals of a pre-revolution Cuba featured in the trailer. Seemingly this year's The Illusionist in terms of undiscovered animated gems, I wanted to be swept up in this colorful unlikely period piece the same way Chico and Rita are swept into the stunning world of 1950's NYC jazz. However, my expectations were probably far too high, as my enjoyment, or lack thereof, can largely be attributed to two aspects of the film: Impressive visuals and unbelievable storytelling.

First, the positive: This is undoubtably a beautiful film to look at. Using its clearly low budget as an incentive for creativity rather than grating drawback, triple directors Fernando Trueba, Javier Mariscal, and Tono Errando, have constructed three unique visual landscapes in the styles of a pop-up book artist with latin flair to their work. The film opens in a modern day Cuban slum; long since faded once energetic primaries paint the streets. It's clear that this crumbled and decaying urban mess was once a thriving place of joy. With little dialogue, and even before we visit this once thriving city through flashback, just through extreme attention to detail these directors have already set a haunting overture for the film. When we eventually leave the present day, and journey to the slum 1948 circa., the once faded colors bright up the screen through sheer energy. At once, this develops an incredibly gorgeous feast for the eyes, but forces returns to the present day to be far more bleak and miserable. This contrast between the bright and the bleak color schemes also help represent Chico as a character, but more on this subject in the next paragraph. When the story lags (more on this in the next paragraph as well), these picturesque landscapes are stunning enough to excite the audience, if not tell the story narrative and dialogue attempt to compliment.

Second, the negative: My main worry going into the film was whether the seemingly predictable plot would be compelling, or drag the whole film down with it. Admittedly, claiming the seemingly sweet love story at the heart of the film destroys any of the film's success would be a bit absurd, it's written so poorly the it's nearly true. We, as the audience, are expected to believe a man who openly cheated on his "soulmate" twice is her perfect match? When Rita leaves Cuba for NYC without Chico, we are supposed to have empathy for, worse yet sympathize with a man who has just betrayed his "soulmate" just for a second time. Chico is a womanizing near sociopath, who when denied starting over his relationship with Rita, still followers her throughout NYC. Rita has the characteristics of an abused housewife; despite constant consequences when having relations with Chico, she has such an emotionally fragile state that she still considers him to be her perfect match. Had the material had been handled in a far darker matter, perhaps some good could've stemmed from a matchmaking this subtly disturbing. However, this is a relationship expected to be rooted for. When these "lovebirds" finally get back together near the end of the film, it's far easier to feel uncomfortable than heart-warmed.

A surprise in many ways than an Oscar nomination, Chico and Rita boasts stunning and unique animation, but recedes due to its unrootable central love story. No matter how much the script yells: "THEY'RE MEANT TO BE!", it's impossible to shake the fact you're rooting for a slightly creepy stalker. Like last year's surprise Oscar nominee for Best Animated Feature, The Illusionist, perhaps this film could've benefited from the silent treatment. It would give more time to listen to the 1950's jazz and appreciate the wonderful details of the film's animation, while putting far less emphasis on the main plot between our two dysfunctional lovers: Chico and Rita.

Grade: C+

Note: After writing this review, I realized I forgot to mention the film's jazz score. For anyone interested in the music of the era, this film has a great soundtrack. If you don't, meh.
March 20, 2012
An adult-themed cartoon -- more like remarkable animated art. Beautifully done in vibrant colors and spectacular detail. Characters made to life with real emotion. Features wonderful, great jazz music that you will soon, thereafter, buy to play for years.
February 24, 2012
An amazing jazz love story full of artistic period detail, great music and some unexpected turns. Cool.
February 20, 2012
A sweeping, epic animated love story set against the backdrop of Cuban jazz music sounds incredible. Unfortunately, "Chico & Rita" isn't incredible, but it's all right enough.
February 16, 2012
Although animated, Chico & Rita is not a movie for the younger crowd. It is strictly an adult movie that just happens to be hand drawn and beautifullly colored. Taking place over the span of 50 years primarily in Havana, Cuba (also Vegas, NYC, Paris, Sydney ...) it is the story of the jazz pianist named Chico who happened upon the sensationally-voiced Rita one night. The pair becomes a duo-act who ignite each others creativity and passions. They become lovers and combatants as their relationship is quite combustible. Grammy-winnger composer Bebo Valdes provides the rythmic score and as the story dances around the world we are treated to some simple-yet-gorgeous animation. It is simply drawn; but lushly colored ... and the colors bring feeling and emotion to the scenes as Rita's clothing is at times sombre and other vibrant and alive. It isn't the most complex movie in the world; but it is most-definitely an adult storyline (there is nudity and sex). If you don't care for jazz ... you won't care for this. If you are impatient for things to happen ... you won't like this. If you don't like subtitles ... you won't like this. You know who you are ... I'm just saying I appreciate this movie.
February 12, 2012
awesome movie. a great mix of romance, drama, and jazz. beautiful, expressive animation and a great cast of characters. pretty traditional plot and storyline, but it's very well-written with a truly unique flavour and style. very entertaining.
January 12, 2014
Chico & Rita is an incredibly charming animation. The love story is incredbily sweet, however it is more rewarding because of the tougher moments. There are a number of non-English language films that are realising just how effective animation can be to tell a 'mature' story (other examples include Waltz With Bashir and Persepolis). Long may that continue.
December 29, 2013
Great music bad film,

Totally missed opportunity - very slow moving, doggedly realistic animation with simple, mostly static camera angles. The overall effect is like a made for t.v movie. The large painted lips don't really fit the faces and are strangely reminiscent of "Clutch Cargo"
the only section of the film where the animation loosens up is the arrival in New York, where the animation is jarringly different in style from the rest of the film. If you want good cuban music try the Buena Vista Social Club
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