Coco: A Love Letter To Mexico
Review by Brenda Torres
Coco, the latest Pixar film, is described by co-director Lee Unkrich as a “love letter to Mexico.” It was released early in Mexico on October 27th, in time for the Day of the Dead celebrations. Since then, Coco has become the highest grossing film in Mexican history.
Mexicans have been widely underrepresented in Disney/Pixar films, so the success of this movie proves that our portrayal was much needed. Coco has been a hit in the U.S. as well, surpassing Justice League on opening weekend. When I first saw the trailer, I immediately knew that I needed to watch this movie. Check it out below:
The story is about Miguel Rivera, a 12-year-old who dreams of being a musician, but his family has a strict ban on music that spans several generations. Miguel’s great-great-grandfather left his wife and daughter to pursue music, leading the Riveras to believe that music is a curse to the family. This shared belief isn’t very justifiable in my opinion, but we have to remember that this is a kids’ movie, and kids aren’t likely to analyze that part of the plot, it simply serves its purpose as a conflict.
Miguel idolizes the late singer and actor Ernesto De La Cruz (who is modeled after Pedro Infante) and believes he is his great-great-grandfather. Eager to play at a talent show and in desperate need of a guitar, Miguel breaks into De La Cruz’s mausoleum the night before Día De Los Muertos to “borrow” his guitar. This ends up cursing Miguel and he travels to the Land of the Dead, where he becomes reunited with all of his deceased family members. He can’t return home without their blessing, and as you can imagine, the family’s disapproval of Miguel’s aspirations becomes a problem here.
The end result is a colorful, vibrant journey filled with music that I must say was exceptional. It's a shame that its charm is undercut by the staggering 20-minute Frozen short, which contains more songs (and of the obnoxious variety) in its runtime than the entirety of Coco. Pixar really dropped the ball there... However, they manage to do more good than bad, per usual.
One thing Pixar managed to do right with regard to the musical numbers in Coco was enlist the help of Latina composer Germaine Franco and Mexican Institute of Sound DJ/producer Camilo Lara to ensure the soundtrack had the authenticity they were looking for. Another shining attribute is how the movie’s comedic and melancholic moments blend together just as seamlessly as the characters’ English and Spanish phrases.
Coco is a celebration of family, tradition, music, love, and the legacies we leave behind after death that is sure to entertain children and adults of all backgrounds alike. I walked out of the theater on Thanksgiving with a tremendous sense of pride and gratitude that Pixar took the risk to pull off this cinematic gift to Mexico and succeeded.
Rating: 4 chanclas outta 5.
What are your thoughts on Coco? Where does it rank amongst the other Pixar films? We want to know. Share your thoughts and feelings in the comments section below, and as always, remember to viddy well!