Disney-Pixar's Coco is now out in theaters. We had already written up an article about the press conference we were invited to in California, and have reviewed a couple of books on the film (anything Coco related we have links at the end of the review). But I wanted to share my thoughts on the movie, which is now my second favorite Pixar film behind the Parisian delight Ratatouille. The movie was preceded by the 21 minute "short" Olaf's Frozen Adventure. I won't be reviewing that as the guests around me were very loud during it - it looked very cute, better than I expected but will wait until my next viewing to be able to concentrate on that one.
Coco is steeped in the Mexican tradition of Día de Muertos (Day of the Dead), which you won't need to know anything about to enjoy the film...but learning just a little will help understand aspects of Coco.
Miguel (Anthony Gonzalez) is a boy whose life is filled with extended family who want him to follow in the family trade of making shoes. Miguel is wanting to be a famous musician like his (deceased) hero Ernesto de la Cruz (Benjamin Bratt), to the point where Miguel has an created an alter (ofrenda) for his idol. His "pet" Dante is a Xolo dog with a tongue that has a life of its own. Coco is named for his great grandmother Mamá Coco (Ana Ofelia Murguía)
Miguel's family does not want him to be a musician, they are against music for unknown reasons and we only learn much later on why. Miguel's guitar ends up broken after he says he wants to be in a music contest. He then flees to the cemetary, which is one of the important locations for Día de Muertos. He has learned something about Ernesto de la Cruz that makes Miguel feel that the guitar that Ernesto owned could be borrowed by Miguel with no consequences from the cemetary.
It turns out, taking the guitar has consequences. Miguel ends up in the Land of the Dead, and he desperately wants to get to Ernesto de la Cruz but also to eventually get home. He meets Hector (Gael García Bernal), another singing skeleton who is nearing his final death - the one where he will be forgotten forever. But first he want to make it back across the bridge to visit his living family. Neither the lives of Hector nor Ernesto de la Cruz were as I expected by the time the movie ended, there are many twists and turns along the way. Saying that, I won't discuss the plot anymore because it should be experienced without spoilers.
There is a quote used often in the film, "Seize your moment". The meaning also changes as the movie progresses.
Disney-Pixar Coco will inspire a range of emotions. I cry at very few animated films, and I had to work hard to not be a sobbing mess in the theater at the end of the film. The movie is funny, moving, vibrant in color and surprising at times. Even as it is set in a holiday that most of us in the United States don't celebrate, it is one that is easy to understand and maybe we'll see it become more of a holiday here too.
Coco includes a lot of music sung by the characters but would not be considered a musical. However, much of the music is wonderful and memorable, and "Remember Me" can either be fun or very sad or moving depending on tempo and meaning.
Much of the film takes place in the Land of the Dead, where skeletons make up the population. Miguel meets family members in this form. I wouldn't expect this to be a problem for most kids, there may be questions but the family members still seemed human, with human characteristics. I recommend this film for families.
Mousesteps Grade: A
Here are our articles about anything Coco related.
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