Pixar’s latest, directed by Lee Unkrich and Adrian Molina, Coco is set in Santa Cecilia, Mexico, and follows 12-year-old aspiring musician Miguel (voiced by Anthony Gonzalez). When his family forbid him from playing music, due to an ancestral ban after his great-great-grandmother’s husband abandoned their family to pursue a career in music, Miguel enters the Land of the Dead to find Ernesto de la Cruz (Benjamin Bratt), a legendary singer who Miguel believes to be his great-great-grandfather. In an effort to find him, Miguel enlists in the help of Héctor (Gael García Bernal) who claims to know Ernesto, as they set off on an extraordinary journey to unlock the real story behind Miguel’s family history.
Beautifully animated with vibrant colours and patterns, as it should be being inspired by the Mexican Day of the Dead holiday, Coco is a beautiful story about life. But, most notably, it is also a story about death, because to be remembered in death, you need to have lived a good life. Mexico has a beautiful tradition of celebrating the dead with their Day of the Dead festival, allowing themes which are usually quite difficult to talk about to be explored in a beautiful and magical way. It is a story that has meaning and honesty, and that’s why it’s one that won’t easily be forgotten.
Disney and Pixar are making a point of exploring different cultures and characters recently. From Scotland to Polynesia, it is important for family animations to introduce our children to new worlds and experiences, but also for studios such as Pixar and Disney to keep up with modern times for two reasons. Firstly, to avoid outdated stereotypes of princesses awaiting their princes that are no longer relevant, but also to teach the rest of the world about different people, places, and traditions, and to make younger generations more open-minded and excited about the world.
With brilliantly written and performed songs, Coco is a beautifully crafted story about being true to yourself and the importance of family. It may not be the first Mexican themed animation, but being created by the powerhouse that is Pixar will ensure that it is one of the most acclaimed. With that in mind, they have explored this culture with respect and curiosity, which are excitingly balanced with all of the key elements of a Disney film – an empowering lead, an exciting adventure, and an emotional obstacle to overcome. Although the antagonist of the story feels somewhat misfitting as he almost becomes a villain, the story at heart is one that will fill yours.
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