Rotten Tomatoes Inspector: ‘Vivo’

Vivo Reviews Explained - Rotten Tomatoes

The Vivo reviews have been predominantly positive since the Netflix film premiered on July 30, 2021. In this info article (spoiler warning), Vague Visages’ senior Rotten Tomatoes analyst inspects the Tomatometer and Audiences scores thus far. 

Ladies and gentlemen, the people have spoken — Vivo appears to be a hit. And by “the people,” I mean a few dozen critics and several members of the Lin-Manuel Miranda fan club. So, what’s really going on with this “Certified Fresh” business? Are folks truly enjoying Kirk DeMicco’s project about a nervous honey bear from Cuba who travels to Florida and nearly gets swallowed by a grumpy python? Yes, my friends — the answer is yes. Even more, critics seem to love the film as a whole — the tunes, the visual flair, the spirit of it all. Please see my detailed report below about the Vivo reviews at Rotten Tomatoes.

Vivo Reviews: Rotten Tomatoes Tomatometer Score Analysis

Vivo Reviews Explained - Rotten Tomatoes

The collective Vivo reviews equate to an 88 percent Tomatometer score at Rotten Tomatoes (based on 65 reviews). In the “Top Critics” section, only four of the 21 featured writers have a green splat next to their name. Of course, this doesn’t necessarily reflect their actual opinion but rather the interpretation by the folks over at Rotten Tomatoes.

G. Allen Johnson of The San Francisco Chronicle stands out as one of the few Vivo skeptics, stating “Not every movie has to turn into an action film, and if the idea is you have to keep the kiddies entertained, hey, maybe trust them a little more.” David Ehrlich of indieWire also notes that Vivo “runs out of steam as it trades Key West kitsch for swampland wildlife,” while Christy Lemire of RogerEbert.com wishes that the Netflix film would’ve focused more on its “musical origins.”

Personally, I’m a Vivo believer. It’s not like the titular kinkajou (Miranda) leaves Cuba for Los Angeles or New York City — he travels to nearby Florida (Miami), a plot point that aligns with the inciting incident involving a Cuban-American woman named Marta (Gloria Estefan). Vivo isn’t a film that’s fundamentally about Cuban-American culture, but rather a universally-relatable, coming-of-age tale about a young character who needs to overcome his fears. Sandra Hall of The Sydney Morning Herald captures my perspective:

“The action’s impetus comes from the music and visual attractions are in the meticulous evocation of the backgrounds, some of which are hand-drawn. The faded beauty of Cuba’s colonial architecture sets the standard.”

Overall, the Vivo reviews seem to reflect that critics appreciate the immersive experience. Miranda may indeed capitalize upon Hamilton’s success with the lyrical structures and cadences of his original songs, but his kinkajou character often takes a back seat to the Key West native Gabi (Ynairaly Simo), who complements the primary storyline with some impressive musical performances. As Darren Franich of Entertainment Weekly notes, “Miranda makes a valid attempt to merge mambo, hip-hop, and a bit of EDM with his trademark leafblower-of-lyricism flow.”

Vivo Reviews: Rotten Tomatoes Audience Score Analysis

Vivo Reviews Explained - Rotten Tomatoes

The collective Vivo reviews mostly vibe with the 71 percent Audience score at Rotten Tomatoes. Based on over 100 ratings thus far (not a lot but still a good sample size), streamers can handle all the “cutesy” elements while enjoying the heart-warming story and featured music. Opinions may differ on Miranda as a musical artist, but general audiences don’t seem too concerned that the Vivo narrative leaves behind Havana for the Florida Everglades. There’s plenty to enjoy with the artistry by Sony Pictures Animation, and the filmmakers don’t clutter the tale with a bunch of talking creatures. The animal-human dynamic between Vivo and Gabi seems to be a crowd pleaser.

Vivo Reviews: Rotten Tomatoes Summary and Future Projections

Vivo Reviews Explained - Rotten Tomatoes

Miranda has a loyal worldwide following, so it’s important to acknowledge the “comfort viewing” element when analyzing the Vivo reviews and Rotten Tomatoes scores. Some of the less experienced critics could undoubtedly be swayed by the joyous nature of the film while streaming at home, and possibly be less objective with their takes. Let’s face it: many young writers value their online persona more than the craft itself. Of course, top critics tend to get caught up in the hype by labeling newly released films as “masterpieces,” when many of them are revealed to be just OK.

The Vivo reviews at Rotten Tomatoes imply that the movie will indeed be popular at Netflix, but — in my opinion — it’s not quite a masterpiece or even one of the best 2021 films. Over time, expect the Tomatometer score to dip to around 80-82, which means that the animated production will still be “Certified Fresh.” As for the Audience score, it will most likely stay in the 70s unless Miranda gets cancelled for some reason and people start lashing out in the Rotten Tomatoes ratings section. Vivo isn’t necessarily a must-watch 2021 Netflix title, but it will please viewers of all ages with its 99 minutes of music and magical realism. Please consider the words of Charlotte O’Sullivan from the Evening Standard:

“You’re probably wondering if the songs here are hauntingly urgent, relevant and beautiful, or ditties Miranda bashed out because everyone wants a piece of him and he can’t say no. Honestly, the answer’s a bit of both.”

Q.V. Hough (@QVHough) is Vague Visages’ founding editor.