Vivo Parent Guide
Vibrant and colorful, this animated movie manages to pack some great emotional lessons into its story.
Parent Movie Review
Andrés (voiced by Juan de Marcos Gonzalez) and his kinkajou, Vivo (Lin-Manuel Miranda), live a lyrical existence in Havana, performing music in a nearby plaza to the delight of dancing crowds. All that changes when Andrés receives a letter from Marta (Gloria Estefan), a singer he accompanied in decades past. Retiring after 60 years, Marta asks Andrés to perform with her at her final concert at the Mambo Cabana in Miami. Vivo objects vigorously to any change, but when circumstances alter, the little honey bear finds himself hitching a plane ride to Florida to deliver an original song to Andrés’ long lost love.
Vivo strikes it lucky with his traveling companion, although it takes some time before he appreciates her. Gabi (Ynairaly Simo) is Andrés’ ten year old niece, and she is a whirlwind of energy, creativity, and self-confidence. “I’m a wow in a world of ho hum,” she sings, and she isn’t kidding. Her frustrated mother is coaxing her to bond with the girls in her Girl-Guide-style troop but Gabi doesn’t want to sell cookies and save the Everglades. She wants to light up the world with her ideas. And when she discovers Vivo’s plans, she’s all in. The pair promptly head off for Miami on an adventure that will see them fending off bossy girls, rafting through the Everglades, and fleeing from a ferocious python…
One of the first things you notice in any film is how the production looks. And Vivo looks fantastic. Havana is a candy-colored confection, with the city’s pastel-colored buildings lovingly rendered along with the antique cars. Miami glows in bright neon and throbs to the pulse of the music. Even Gabi’s room has its own look – chaotically messy (like many kids’ rooms) but also grungy in the corners, with a worn feel that seems entirely authentic. The characters are also clearly drawn, in a highly stylized fashion with wide bottoms and tiny feet. Best of all, the extras are highly diverse with a variety of races and body types and sizes. This is no one-size-fits-all world.
Fans of Lin-Manuel Miranda will also appreciate the soundtrack, which bounces along with his usual cheery syncopation. There’s no real standout here, with the possible exception of Gabi’s “I’m a wow” theme, but the music pushes the story along more than adequately.
What really propels the film, though, is Gabi. Vivo may be the title character, but this little girl dominates every scene she’s in. Impulsive and irrepressible, her unquenchable optimism helps her bounce back from every setback as she dreams up creative solutions to problems (some of which she caused). Gabi is a prototype for resilience and young viewers can learn a fair bit just from watching her. Vivo has lessons to learn about adapting to change but it’s Gabi’s loyalty, authenticity, and determination to be true to herself that is so very powerful. As an added bonus, kids will also benefit as they see the buttoned-down Vivo and the spontaneous little girl learn to work together, balancing each other’s strengths and weaknesses. The movie is a virtual workshop in co-operation.
Thankfully, all of these positive messages come with little negative material. There is some plot-related peril – including some very scary scenes with a hungry giant snake – but any kid who can watch Disney movies is more than capable of managing this story without screaming. To the contrary, most young viewers will be smiling and laughing throughout the film, absorbing all the candy-coated messaging, with no idea that positive emotional lessons lurk beneath the laughs.Directed by Kirk DeMicco, Brandon Jeffords. Starring Lin-Manuel Miranda, Ynairaly Sim, Zoe Saldana. Running time: 103 minutes. Theatrical release August 6, 2021. Updated February 24, 2022
Watch the trailer for Vivo
Rating & Content Info
Why is Vivo rated PG? Vivo is rated PG by the MPAA for some thematic elements and mild action
Violence: Dogs chase a frightened baby bear. A limp hand is seen on screen, indicating a death. An animal sees gravestones in aquariums for dead fish. A small animal is chased by a ferocious and hungry dog. A character escapes being eaten by an alligator. Characters face extreme peril as they are trapped in a storm while riding a raft in the everglades. An animal jokes about taking a “dirt nap”. A snake coils around a character and threatens to eat him. A snake chases frightened children and tries to eat them.
Sexual Content: None.
Alcohol / Drug Use: None.
Page last updated February 24, 2022
Vivo Parents' Guide
Why doesn’t Vivo want to go to Miami? Have you ever been afraid of doing new things? What are some things you can do when you’re scared of something new?
If you want to learn more about kinkajous, you can follow these links:
Kinkatopia: What Is a Kinkajou?
World Land Trust: Kinkajou
Loved this movie? Try these books…
If you’re trying to motivate a young reader, Mary Pope Osborne’s Magic Tree House series can be a good way to introduce early chapter books. The sixth in the series, Afternoon in the Amazon, sends Jack and Annie to the rainforest where they meet a kinkajou.
The Kooky Kinkajou: The Nocturnals introduces young readers to wildlife in the Amazon. Written by Tracey Hecht and illustrated by Josie Yee, this tale teaches kids to use their imaginations to stave off boredom.
For a non-fiction approach, Lisa Strattin has written Facts About the Kinkajou. This book provides kids with lots of photos of kinkajous and basic facts about their lives. Rachel Lynette has written Kinkajous, part of the Jungle Babies of the Amazon Rainforest series. This book is full of photos of young kinkajous in their natural habitat.
What Do You Do with a Kinkajou? by Alice Gilborn is a memoir of her mother’s real-life adventures owning a personal zoo, filled with horses, varied wild animals, and a kinkajou. The book is out of print but can be bought used online.
Related home video titles:
Lin-Manuel Miranda has become a significant fixture in the entertainment world. His smash Broadway musical about American history, Hamilton, is currently streaming on Disney+. Another musical by the actor/composer is In the Heights, which examines immigrant culture in NYC. He also costars in Mary Poppins Returns.
For more kid-friendly movies about animals on a quest, you can watch Christopher Robin, in which Winnie-the-Pooh comes to the rescue of his old friend who doesn’t know that he needs rescue. Paddington Bear, from “darkest Peru”, goes to London to find a new home after the death of his parents. His story is told in Paddington and Paddington 2. In The One and Only Ivan, a silverback gorilla figures out how to lead his fellow captive animals to freedom. Finding Nemo and Finding Dory follow the adventures of Marlin and Nemo, a father and son pair of clownfish, and their absent-minded friend, Dory, as they traverse the vast Pacific Ocean.