Movie Recap: Coco
Coco is my favorite Pixar film. This film is dear to me because I see my culture portrayed on the big screen. Being a Chicana (Mexican American), I mostly speak English with some sprinkle of Spanish words (yes, I’m a Spanglish speaking person). Coco is mainly in English with some Spanish words here and there. I took my daughters to watch this film on the big screen, and I’ve been watching the movie once a year ever since. I do celebrate Dia De Muertos, and a newly added element of the tradition is to watch this film on those days. We have an “ofrenda” in my house with my mother’s photo (who passed away five years ago the 19th of this month). We always go and purchase decorations, and on the day of the dead, we buy flowers and prepare her favorite food. This tradition starts with me since my mother didn’t celebrate Dia de Muertos, and I’m hoping it continues for many generations after me.
The film gave me chills the moment the Disney logo began to play with the mariachi music. Coco focuses on Miguel, a boy who loves music and aspires to be a musician. His family strongly prohibits any type of music in the household. Forcing Miguel to hide his love for music from his family. His dog companion a “Xoloitzcuintli” named Dante, who’s Miguel’s spirit guide. Fun fact; my aunt, who lives in Mexico, has a Xolo, and it does have its tongue sticking out just like in this film. Miguel decides to participate in the Dia De Muertos competition being inspired by one of the most iconic artists in Mexico, Ernesto De La Cruz. Following a confrontation with his grandmother (who broke his guitar), Miguel goes to the plaza asking to borrow a guitar to participate in the competition. Not being able to find a guitar, he figures he can barrow De La Cruz guitar from his burial place. This is where Miguel’s journey begins.
Miguel encounters his ancestors and must find a way to return to the land of the living. The introduction of the land of the dead is breathtaking with its color, details, and the awed in Miguel’s face was the exact reaction I had watching it unfold on the big screen. Soon after, Hector is introduced in a powerful scene. He tries to cross the bridge without proper authorization (having his picture placed on an ofrenda) and is taken back to the land of the dead. Dante guides Miguel to Hector, where they first interact, and the film follows their journey; Miguel trying to get to his idol, who believes is his grandfather, Ernesto De La Cruz. Hector helps Miguel, so once he returns to the land of the living, a picture of him can be placed in an ofrenda.
The voice acting in this movie is quite impressive. Aside from an all Latinx/Hispanic cast, the actors are well known talented actors. The introduction of Anthony Gonzalez as Miguel left me impressed with his great vocals and excellent performance. Jaime Camil, who I’m familiarized with his soap operas in Mexico, did a decent job too. Gael Garcia Bernal, who I first saw as Hector, was excellent, and I had no idea he could sing. Other people collaborated, for instance, Gabriel Iglesias, Edward James Olmos, Benjamin Bratt, Alfonso Arau, Cheech Marin, and many more. The film placed a smile on my face when iconic Mexican legends briefly made an appearance, Frida Kahlo, Cantinflas, Pedro Infante, El Santo, Jorge Negrete, and Maria Felix. What can I say about the music that hasn’t already been said? “Remember Me” won the Oscar for best song, but my favorite song is “Poco Loco.” The scene with Miguel and Coco is moving and gets me every single time I watch it. Coco’s smile after singing “Remember Me” warms my heart and makes me want to give her the biggest hug.
Dia De Muertos is a festivity that’s been celebrated for hundreds of years. Coco leaves its watchers with the importance of family, and despite losing family members physically, telling their stories will keep them alive in our hearts.