There is something to be said about Pixar films, they always manage to make you smile. Of course, the Cars movies are a different story, but the original ones in general. Coco has been receiving many awards for best animated feature. It was surprising that it took me so long to see this movie, while I usually love going to Pixar movies. This is the first film that accurately depicted Mexican culture by using one of its biggest holidays: Dias de los Muertos.
As much as I would like to say that the movie was original, it had some traditional plot twists that I saw coming halfway through the movie. The story follows Miguel, who has a passion for music. Ernesto de la Cruz is his idol and through a cutoff picture, he believes is his great-great-grandfather. Since he left the family when his great grandmother, Coco, was a baby, the family had forbidden the impulse to play, hum, or even think about music.
This type of grudge really hit home for me, as my Mexican family has done many of these things within the family. Much like The Big Sick, none of it really made sense to me, or current generations. Nevertheless, Miguel wanted to play in the Dia de los Muertos talent contest. Unfortunately, his grandmother discovers his hidden guitar and smashes it. In an attempt to find a guitar, Miguel ventures to Ernesto’s grave to steal his guitar. Through a series of events, he ends up in the Land of the Dead. Miguel must find a way to get back to the living world before sunrise and meet his great-great-grandfather before that happens.
Coco manages to pull on the heart-strings and the definition of family. It throws out a theory behind the act of leaving out pictures of family members that have pass. It runs on the concept of remembrance, as there is a second death for people that have passed on. Once you die, you remain in the world of the death until you are no longer remembered. We see this in a touching moment between Hector and Chicharron (Edward James Olmos).
The film manages to trot the line between showing the Mexican culture in an accurate light to being stereotypical. With my background, I laughed quite hard seeing people that I had in my life. Not to mention the Latin grudge of not liking something because someone else liked it and they wronged you. Then the idea of forgiveness and allowing one to see the other side of the story.
Miguel is the standard character that hates his family as they will not allow him to nurture his talent. This particular character arc is something that transcends ethnic backgrounds. It tells a very human story in the façade of Mexican culture. However, it utilizes the attributes to distinguish itself from more traditional movies.
While many of the plot twists and elements were predictable, there is only so much you can do with an animated children’s movie. Nevertheless, it still pulls you in on an emotional level to allow forgiveness for some of the more traditional “twists”. Of course, the music in the movie is very enjoyable and I dare you not to tap your foot while listening to it.
Coco is a unique movie for children to see and understand another culture’s holiday. It is a story that is non-offensive but manages to teach you something: we are all the same. Regardless whether we are separated by race, culture, age, or political affiliation we all suffer the same way underneath it all. Coco is a movie for the family or for a middle-aged man that is happy his family is represented in a positive way. Nice move, Pixar.