Quote from Coco by Ernesto de la Cruz: “And Héctor was my best friend. Success doesn’t come for free, Miguel. You have to be willing to, do whatever it takes to… seize your moment. I know you understand.”
There is Something Special Here
Is Pixar capable of releasing a movie that doesn’t get good to great reviews? Coco is a Walt Disney Pictures and Pixar Animation Studios production. It is co-directed by Lee Unkrich and Adrian Molina. It is written by Lee Unkrich, Jason Katz, Matthew Aldrich, and Adrian Molina. The main cast is Gael García Bernal (Héctor), Benjamin Bratt (Ernesto de la Cruz), Anthony Gonzalez (Miguel), Alanna Ubach (Mamá Imelda), Jamie Camil (Papá), Sofia Espinosa (Mamá), Ana Ofelia Murguia (Mamá Coco), and Renee Victor (Abuelita). I absolutely loved everything about this movie especially the story, music, animation, and production design. Its MPAA rating is PG for thematic elements, and running time is 1 hour and 45 minutes. Coco is essentially about family, music, and love. As the viewer, you join Miguel’s quest to find his great-great grandfather, the source of his love for music. There is one major problem. He has to enter the Land of the Dead to find him. On his search, he find interesting skeletons including Ernesto de la Cruz, his idol, and Héctor, who won’t leave him alone. Miguel’s love for guitars and singing only increases as he spends more time with the dead, but whether his living family will accept this is only found by watching the movie. There are not major spoilers in this review.
Between the Living and the Dead
Miguel wants to become the next beloved musician in México. He idolizes Ernesto de la Cruz who is widely adored by the village of Santa Cecilia except for his family. Any music is not allowed to be played in their house. His grandmother, Abuelita, matriarch of the family makes sure of this. Miguel has little interest in their family business of shoemaking, and makes it his mission to be around music, even if it means going to extremes. He breaks into the mausoleum and steals Ernesto’s guitar from the wall. His punishment for doing this is being invisible to everyone except his dog, Dante, and his dead relatives. It is here that Miguel learns the severity of what he has done, and unless he can right the wrong, there will be irreversible consequences. His great-great grandmother, Imelda, is a tough cookie to please. She will give him what he desires, but under the condition when he is reunited with his living family, he will not play music. Miguel doesn’t accept her help and meets Héctor. They don’t see eye to eye either and forges head alone to find Ernesto when he isn’t willing to fulfill Héctor’s favor. When he finally connects with Ernesto, he learns the truth behind the lies, and where his lineage started. This leads to more discovery of his family and how there is a softer side to particular family members. While his dream of being a famous musician might not happen, Miguel gained something much more important by the movie’s end.
Since music is an important part of any culture, it was great to see the abundance of Méxican culture, representation, and music. It was highly refreshing to see actors and actresses who voiced the characters represented by the Latino acting community. Gael García Bernal never disappoints and Anthony Gonzalez captured the essence of a young boy with dreams. There was one non-Latino who voiced the role of Juan Ortodoncia. Anyone remember John Ratzenberger? He played Cliff on the ever successful television show Cheers. Having the cast speak and sing their lines in Spanish is the only thing I can think that would have made the viewing experience truly authentic, but Coco is still an all-encompassing energetic package. The writers successfully portrayed their message for children. The production design was vibrant and powerful. The songs had soul and love wrapped around the notes and lyrics. This movie was intended to be a lighthearted children’s movie about a Méxican boy wanting to be a part of México’s vitality. I project this will be a timeless classic in the Pixar vault.
We’ve all been there where your mind wanders a bit. I’ve done it numerous times in movie theaters or my living room. There’s no time for a wandering mind this time. You will want to pay attention because the movie is a gem. Coco finds its center, travels outward, and ultimately reminds people why movies exist and matter.
Pisaries Creator Rating
Coco gets four fingers and one thumb at 100%.