'Vivo' review: Lin-Manuel Miranda makes beautiful music on Netflix

Who will tell your story?Lin-Manuel Miranda cannot help but ask that question. This is the undercurrent of Miranda's Broadway smash hit, In the Heights. It's also the subject of the HBO Max blockbuster, In the Heights. He asks the question in Hamilton's final number explicitly, leaving the audience to wonder how their legacy will be shaped.Vivo is a Netflix series that features Miranda returning to the theme in a new version. It's a colorful, salsa-influenced Netflix adventure from Sony Pictures Animation. It is a comedy about Miranda, a kinkajou (Miranda), who team up with a child (Ynairaly SIMO) to fulfill a dying wish of a family member. As the layers fall away, we see Miranda revisiting his favorite theme.Vivo is our kinkajou. He is a Havana-based singing and dancing cutie pie busker. After the death of Andrs, his guitar-strumming musical friend, Vivo is left to fend for himself. Vivo discovers that Andrs had been living with an unfulfilled wish before the tragic evening. He never shared his true feelings with Marta Sandoval (Gloria Estefan), his former bandmate.Andrs even wrote an entire song about it. Marta never got to hear it, and he died as an opportunity to correct that mistake. Vivo is now responsible for ensuring Marta's story ends in the right way. Vivo will transport Marta's precious lyrics and sheet music from Havana, Florida to Miami. Marta is currently preparing for her last performance.One problem. Vivo may be able to sing, dance, and communicate to us, the audience. But to the rest, he is just an adorable, chittering kinkajou. Here's where the kid mentioned above comes in: Gabi (Simo), a spunky, rhythmically challenged Gen Z spitfire, is moving with her mother from Cuba to Florida. She is also Andrs grandniece.Who is the one who tells your story. Lin-Manuel Miranda cannot help but ask that question.Although they may not be able to understand each other's language, the two make beautiful music together when they are forced to team up to help Marta in Miami. Gabi is a person with a deep connection to music and loss that drives her forward. She's also better equipped than most to help the Kinkajou make it through life in a human world.Miranda's touching story is worth sharing. Keep tissues close at hand. His earlier works will be instantly familiar to fans who recognize his rapid-fire lyrics and heady fusions of Latin rhythms and hip-hop beats.Miranda is known for classic numbers like "Keep the Beat", one of the few tracks from the soundtrack that was released before the movie. Although it might sound out of place among his other works, the song's overall structure is clearly Miranda's."My Own Drum" is at the other end of the spectrum. This soundtrack standout and absolute banger fuses the energetic marching band energy that reminds of Beyonc's Homecoming with Gabi's quirky individuality, making it a great soundtrack choice. Simo delivers a flawless performance. While Simo is able to convey emotion in song-free scenes with great success, "My Own Drum," gives Simo's musical talents a chance to shine.The script by Quiara Alegra Husdes, based on the story of High School Musical writer Peter Barsocchini, has much to offer. Miranda is a great team-up, as Hudes also wrote In the Heights' book.Vivo's emotional hits are as heartbreaking as ever because of the cast, which is full of lovable characters. Although the subplots are mostly for Vivo and Gabi, the story is rich with texture. Even the little players add depth to the story that gives the stars something to work off of. As they take part in the quest to hear Andrs' song, everyone has layers. These small contributions, like a musical, are additive and lead to a climax of emotion that culminates in beautiful music and emotion.There is also plenty of humor. It is without doubt a hilarious movie. Gabi and Vivo communicate only through song. However, there is enough connection between them to allow for patter outside of the musical numbers. This leaves plenty of room for funny one-liners. Often, Vivo is puzzled and unable to match Gabi's unwavering energy and joie de vivre.Vivo's heartbeat is the touching story of Marta (Estefan's) loss of love for Andrs (Gonzlez). Credit:The adventures of the couple, together and apart, open up the possibility for a supporting cast who mostly exist to make laughs. Dancarino (Brian Tyree Henry, Nicole Byer) plays a couple of doofy, mutually-loving spoonbills that end up in a messy and awkward but unassailably sweet relationship. We also have the opportunity to enjoy short, entertaining segments with Michael Rooker and Leslie David Baker, who play respectively a bus driver and Everglades python.Although it is Katie Lowes and Olivia Trujillo who get the most laughs, Lidya Jewett gets the biggest lift. However, Vivo's comedy is brighter than Lowes. They lend their voices to Sand Dollar Troop, an antagonistic group of environmentally-conscious cookie peddlers that is reminiscent of Girl Scouts.Gabi refuses to be part of the gang, despite Rosa Saldana's pleas. The girls see Vivo, a native rainforest mammal, and decide to "rescue" Vivo from Gabi. Although the Sand Dollar Troop's journey through the movie is not as straightforward, suffice it to say that they bring lots of laughters and unexpected twists.It's truly amazing how much fun it is to spend 100 mins admiring Vivo's vibrantly colored world. You don't need to look at the animation for Pixar comparisons. The movie is beautiful in its own right and the art direction perfectly serves the characters. It would have been nice to see more 2D sequences.This is a unique creation for Miranda fans. Given the release dates of both movies, it almost feels like In the Heights. Vivo is a perfect fit for the growing work of this internationally-respected playwright, music-maker and entertainer. Miranda may struggle to stop thinking about what a legacy looks and how it is formed, but Vivo, with the support of Hudes and Barsocchini and many other talents, is further cementing his own legacy.Vivo begins streaming on Netflix Friday.