When I was much younger, there were times when I would wonder what people might say at my funeral. Now I am at a stage in my life where I occasionally ponder who will be the ones that will remember me in the years after my death?
The importance of keeping the memory of our loved ones alive is a key theme in Disney’s Coco.
The latest film from Pixar is a colourful and joyous tale of family and music. At 12-years-old, Miguel Rivera (Anthony Gonzalez) wants nothing more than to be a musician like his idol, the famed Ernesto de la Cruz (Benjamin Bratt). Unfortunately, Miguel comes from a long line of shoemakers who have been forbidden to have anything to do with music. A rule that has been imposed every since his great-great-grandmother Imelda (Alanna Ubach) and her daughter were abandoned when her husband left to pursue a music career.
Determined to enter a talent contest during the Day of the Dead celebrations in his Mexican village, Miguel steals Ernesto’s famed guitar with plans of returning it after the competition. Little does he know that this action has huge consequences as he not only begins to see his dead relatives, but finds himself trapped in the spirit world. If Miguel does not get one of his ancestors to give them his blessing before sunrise he will be trapped in the Land of the Dead forever.
While Imelda and the rest of the clan are more than happy to provide the required blessing, it comes with the condition that he must stay away from music forever. Not willing to concede to this one stipulation, Miguel teams up with a local trickster, Hector (Gael García Bernal), to help him locate his musician great-great-grandfather who is his last resort for getting home.
A vibrant and surprisingly touching tale, Coco is a delight from beginning to end. Easily one of Pixar’s most simplistic narratives in quite a while, the film still manages to sweep audiences off their feet with its charming characters and outstanding musical numbers. It also helps that the film takes an interesting and dark turn in the latter half. This not only sets up a thrilling climax, but adds additional emotional weight to the film’s message.
While it was wonderful to see a film like this steeped in Mexican culture, one must keep in mind that this is a Disney film first and foremost. Though directors Lee Unkeich and Adrian Molina wisely pay close attention to details, they do tend to go for the big laugh rather than any deep cultural lesson. So many of the iconic Latin figures who make cameos in the film, take Frida Kahlo for example, are portrayed in a comedic, but ultimately loving, light.
Coco is the type of film that you will want to take the whole family to. Who knows, one day it might be a bonding memory that my own son will share when telling his recollections of me.