Continuing the tradition that Yani and I started some years ago, we ushered the new year by watching a movie in the afternoon on New Year’s day. This year we watched Coco – the latest animation offering from Pixar Animation Studios and Walt Disney Pictures.
Coco is about a young boy named Miguel Rivera (Anthony Gonzalez) with a passion to sing and play guitar. The problem is, everybody in the family is forbidden to play music ever since the matriarch of the family: the late Mamá Imelda Rivera (Alanna Ubach) – Miguel’s great-great-grandmother – was abandoned by her husband, as he was more interested to pursue his interest to play music. Mamá Imelda ended up making shoes to support her daughter Coco (Ana Ofelia Murguía). As the family grew, the restriction to play music or sing remains. Miguel suspects that his interest in music is inherited from his great-great-grandfather – who he believes to be the famous artist, Ernesto de la Cruz (Benjamin Bratt). So, when Miguel finds out that there’s a music contest on the Día de Muertos (Day of the Dead) – he decides to go against his family tradition and enters the contest. The problem is, he doesn’t have a guitar – so he breaks into de la Cruz’s mausoleum and steals his old guitar. As he strums the guitar, Miguel is transformed into a spirit who then mingles with the deceased spirits who are returning to earth for the Día de Muertos. This gives him a chance to meet with the spirit of Ernesto de la Cruz …
Essentially, Coco is a story about a sense of purpose and destiny, and the importance of family. However, there is a departure from the more traditional values of forgiveness for example. When Miguel meets the spirit of Mamá Imelda, she insists that she cannot forgive her husband – although love wins at the end. There’s also the weird mix of getting the moral statement from the antagonist character (I won’t reveal too much), that members of the audience are left with at the end of the movie: we should seize the moment and grab the opportunities as they are presented to us.
The movie is exquisitely presented visually – the animation is top-notch, to the standard that keeps on being improved by Pixar Studios. The music supports the story and the animation very well also – I’m sure you will probably still hum Remember Me for days afterwards, especially since this is also played at the key moment in the movie (get your tissues ready!). So, all in all, I enjoyed to visual feast – but I have some issues with the theme and some parts of the story. It seems that Disney is now interested in marketing Día de Muertos globally perhaps?