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Limara Meneses, Eman Xor Oña, Mario Guerra, Bebo Valdes, Idania Valdés ... see more see more... , Estrella Morente , Freddy Cole , Jimmy Heath , Pedrito Martínez , Michael Phillip Mossman , Amadito Valdés , German Velazco , Yaroldi Abreu , Rolando Luna , Lenny Mandel

Cuba, 1948. Chico is a young piano player with big dreams. Rita is a beautiful singer with an extraordinary voice. Music and desire unite them as they chase their dreams and each other from Havana to ... read more read more...New York to Paris, Hollywood and Las Vegas. With an original soundtrack by legendary Cuban pianist and five-time Grammy-winning composer Bebo Valdés, Chico & Rita captures a defining moment in the evolution of history and jazz, and features the music of (and animated cameos by) Thelonious Monk, Charlie Parker, Cole Porter, Dizzy Gillespie, Woody Herman, Tito Puente, Chano Pozo, and others. -- (C) GKIDS

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77% liked it

5,164 ratings


86% liked it

65 critics

Unrated, 1 hr. 34 min.

Directed by: Javier Mariscal, Fernando Trueba

Release Date: February 10, 2012

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DVD Release Date: September 18, 2012


Stats: 324 reviews

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Flixster Reviews (324)

  • 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 it... read mores 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.
  • November 1, 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 inte... read morerest. 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.
  • May 9, 2012
    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 l... read moreust 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.
  • 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. Fli... read morexster 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!
  • 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... read more 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.
  • 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 ... read moredays, 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.
  • 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.
  • June 27, 2011
    Oh this was lovely. Grown-up animation telling an old-fashioned story about Chico and Rita, a pianist and a singer in 1940's Cuba, how they meet,how they split up, meet, split up, swan off to New York, Paris - all with a backdrop of jazz music from Charlie Parker, Thelonious Monk... read more and all their little friends. Classy.

  • March 16, 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 backgr... read moreound 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.

Critic Reviews

Joe Williams
April 6, 2012
Joe Williams, St. Louis Post-Dispatch

When a place and its people are this stylish, we can't help but be drawn to them. Full Review

John Anderson
March 16, 2012
John Anderson, Newsday

"Chico & Rita" is that rare thing, a cartoon for adults, with a bittersweet take on love and fate and a romantic's view of the night. Full Review

Michael O'Sullivan
March 16, 2012
Michael O'Sullivan, Washington Post

A pure delight, a keenly affecting, visually ravishing tale. Full Review

Betsy Sharkey
March 8, 2012
Betsy Sharkey, Los Angeles Times

A buttery rich animated tale of love, jazz, showbiz, fame and politics in the late '40s and early '50s that is as catchy as its tunes. Full Review

Ty Burr
March 1, 2012
Ty Burr, Boston Globe

When a soundtrack this fluidly elegant is married to trite dialogue, thin characterizations, and chockablock animation, it has to go down as a missed opportunity. Full Review

Tom Long
February 24, 2012
Tom Long, Detroit News

Presented in a wash of animated colors, this story of a hot-headed sexy Latina songstress and her jazz piano player takes on new life. Full Review

John Hartl
February 23, 2012
John Hartl, Seattle Times

Remarkably sexy for its genre (it's not for kids at all), it's nostalgic about a time and place that rarely gets treated on film ("Godfather II" touched on it), and it has an emotional pull that may c... Full Review

Roger Ebert
February 23, 2012
Roger Ebert, Chicago Sun-Times

It's entertaining to watch, and I enjoyed the way they slipped in such real-life figures as Dizzy Gillespie beside the fictional leads. Full Review

Walter V. Addiego
February 16, 2012
Walter V. Addiego, San Francisco Chronicle

By virtue of its simple, stylized look - bold lines and color blocks - and effervescent Cuban jazz score, the Spanish animated feature "Chico & Rita" rises above its routine story of a troubled love a... Full Review

Alonso Duralde
February 10, 2012
Alonso Duralde, TheWrap

There's an outline of an epic love story here, but the screenwriters never bother to fill it in all the way. Full Review

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    • Chico: Have you thought about your career? About your future?
    • Rita: Future, what future? The future never gave me anything! All my hopes are set on the past.

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