Coco (2017) is Pixar’s newest film from directors Lee Unkrich (Toy Story 2 and Monsters, Inc) and Adrian Molina. The movie is set on Día de Muertos, Day of the Dead, that is ultimately about family, memories, and music. Pixar has done it again creating a film that is as moving as it is gorgeous. The music in the movie is excellent and the cast is magnificent.
Coco is a Must See movie
Miguel (Anthony Gonzalez) is from a family of shoemakers that all began after his great-great grandfather left his wife, Miguel’s Mama Imelda (Alanna Ubach), and daughter, Coco (Ana Ofelia Murguia), to pursue a music career. Music has been banned in the family since, but Miguel wants to be like the musical icon Ernesto De La Cruz (Benjamin Bratt) who he now believes to be his great-great grandfather.
Miguel, inspired by the words of De La Cruz’s “Seize your moment”, looks to enter a talent show. This elicits the wrath of Miguel’s Abuelita (Renee Victor) who, upon discovering his secret music collection and ambition, destroys his handmade guitar. Miguel refuses to give up on this dream and attempts to steal his great-great grandfather’s guitar in order to participate in the talent show. It’s this action that sends Miguel into the spirit realm and a reintroduction to his deceased family members.
The rules of the world are established, and because Miguel inadvertently pulled a picture of the ofrenda, Mama Imelda isn’t able to come to the land of the living with the rest of the family. Miguel finds himself in a tight position, as getting back to the world of the living easily requires him promising to give up his dream. Two major themes in this film are the importance of family and pursuing one’s own dreams regardless of the costs. Miguel is thrust into the middle of these two ideas and it’s this struggle that represents a major internal conflict. Hector (Gael Garcia Bernal) acts as a guide for Miguel in the land of the dead, who simply wants Miguel to include him on the ofrenda so he can return to the land of the living. The dynamic between the two is the bulk of the story, which creates some incredibly funny scenes. Hector comes off as a con artist and a potential villain but ends up being a very endearing character.
Power of music works for me almost always
Coco is aging and losing her memory. The importance of memory is another theme that is highlighted within this film and becomes integrated with music. There is a great documentary called “Alive Inside” that would be a great pairing with this film, especially for one tear-inducing scene from Coco that basically demonstrates the message this documentary conveys. Coco’s the titular character and the only family member of whom Miguel is still close with as she doesn’t judge him.
This film is another great example of what Pixar does. It’s funny, heartwarming, emotionally satisfying, and integrates music for what seems like the first time. This weaving of the art into the plot works wonderfully. Miguel is relatable and sympathetic…yet, even while you root for him, it is hard to say his family is wrong. Their message, while a bit too pushy and stubborn, is ultimately true. However, their decision to not support Miguel’s dreams simply because of the actions of an ancestor is not fair.
Coco worked perfectly for my tastes and interests. The plot is great and there are plenty of surprising moments. However, I did predict them all very early and anyone with a basic knowledge of story will probably see the threads as well. This foresight didn’t damage my experience in any way, and I still had an amazing time watching this film. Coco earns the Must See rating.