Once a year in Mexico, people bring treats to a graveyard where they hope to contact the dead and…wait a minute, isn’t this the Christmas season? What’s with the sudden Halloween ideas? Actually, this is a special day called Dia de Muertos (in English, that would be the Day of the Dead) where the dark reality of death is suddenly made colorful and an embraced part of life. Death is not seen as an end, as the connection to our loved ones is how they still remain a part of us, even when their gone. The Day of the Dead remains a celebrated day in Mexico, and even the United States.
There is something to those who say that they feel the spirits of their loved ones. Perhaps it’s the connection of the memories or maybe it is their ghosts that are there to remind them that they’ll always be watching. You could argue that these people are the closest to their families if they still consider their ancestors a vital member of the family. The Day of the Dead for this reason, stresses the importance of togetherness and family, which is why I have to recommend Coco for everyone this holiday season.
Within the Rivera family, a group of shoemakers, music is outright banned in the household, even though 12 year old Miguel (played by Anthony Gonzalez) wants to follow his hero Ernesto de la Cruz (played by Benjamin Bratt) and become a famous musician. It’s explained that about four generations ago, one of the Riveras became a musician and never returned home. In turn, the now abandoned wife become a shoemaker, and the rest of the family followed suit. Regardless of ban that’s heavily enforced by his grandmother Imelda, Miguel constantly watches Ernesto’s old movies, performances, and listens to his most popular song, “Remember Me”.
When Miguel wants to enter a local talent show, he tries acquiring a guitar by steeling the one within Ernesto’s tomb. As soon as he strums it, he suddenly finds that he cannot be seen by the living and can now see skeletons visiting their families during the current Day of the Dead. His skeleton ancestors tell him that they can get him home, but under the condition that he can’t play music. Not wanting to accept that, he travels through the land of the dead to find Ernesto in order to get a non-binding blessing from him.
I will flat out say it: Coco may now be one of my favorite Disney movies. This is a film where everything happens to be beautiful. The story is beautiful. The characters are beautiful. The animation is beautiful. The voice work is beautiful. But why is it all beautiful? A lot of that falls on the overall story and plot where everything the child goes through feels warranted and earned. It’s almost never predictable and kept me going on trying to figure out where everything was going to lead; not just for our hero but for his family.
Coco has one of the most original designed worlds in a while, fitting in with other imaginative worlds like Metropolis, Blade Runner, and Batman. It is huge, looking like it could hold the population of the dead, with every part of it looking lived in. It blossoms in color, turning a world of darkness into a work of art. Coco took advantage of an underworld that has a majority Mexican inspiration and ran with every direction possible. Seeing this on the big screen made it all seem like a dream I never wanted to leave…and this is from someone who didn’t see it in 3D.
Of course I have to address the music. It represents everything fun and spiritual that Mexico is capable of. Though the movie is not technically a musical, it does come close with how songs are sung and just how their placed. I can already bet that “Remember Me” will get the phraise through it’s sweeps at the award season. But without giving away how that song progresses, I’d like to address “Un Poco Loco” which I’d love to know if it was an original song for the movie. It’s a funny little but that seems fitting for it’s moment. Composer Michael Giacchino gives the movie an extra sound that makes me conviced that he’s the next john Williams.
I’ll give this five special guitars out of five. Coco is a special movie that is meant for whole families, not just kids or even adults to watch alone. I have to recommend it alone for it’s creativity, but all of its elements together make it a must. Please see this movie and find what a beautiful song it is.