Movie Review: Coco is a gift from Disney Pixar to the Hispanic Community!

“Coco” is a gift! And what a present Disney Pixar have bestowed on the Hispanic community!

Disney Pixar’s “Coco” is bursting with color and tradition. With the rise in popularity of Mexico’s Day of the Dead, or Dia de los Muertos, “Coco” illustrates what this precious tradition is all about: Family.  And this animated musical is squarely aimed at the Hispanic community.

The story takes place in Santa Cecilia, a small town made up of real villages in Mexico. If you read my book, then you’ll know that John Lasseter, the head of Pixar and Disney Animation Studios, believes the animators have to immerse themselves in the area they’re going to create on screen. For “Finding Nemo,” Lasseter “sent his crew to the Great Barrier Rief to see the natural wonder firsthand.” (“101 Movies To See Before You Grow Up“).

Filmmakers made research trips to Mexico and spent time in small villages to get a sense of the area and the culture. The movie uses the Day of the Dead celebration (November 1st) as the backdrop for the story.

Movie Synopsys

Despite his family’s generations-old ban on music, young Miguel dreams of becoming an accomplished musician like his idol Ernesto de la Cruz. Desperate to prove his talent, Miguel finds himself in the stunning and colorful Land of the Dead. After meeting a charming trickster named Hector, the two new friends embark on an extraordinary journey to unlock the real story behind Miguel’s family history.

Pixar’s signature animation, using  vibrant colors and attention to detail, offers viewers an insightful representation of what this wonderful holiday is all about. From the altars family members set up to celebrate their deceased loved ones, to the significance of each item placed on the memorials, no detail is left out of the movie.

The cast includes: Anthony Gonzalez (Miguel), Gael García Bernal, Benjamin Bratt, Renée Victor, Ana Ofelia Murguia, Alanna Ubach, Jaime Camil, Sofía Espinosa, Selene Luna, Alfonso Arau, Edward James Olmos

Coco Pixar

You may recall the controversial attempt Disney made to patent the name “Dia de los Muertos.” We knew then that the Mouse House was cooking up something related to this Mexican holiday. The Hispanic community was up in arms about this. I was perplexed about Disney’s move, and published an article about this perceived cultural appropriation at TheWrap.com. Lalo Alcaraz, the nationally syndicated editorial cartoonist for La Cucaracha, did it even better. Alcaraz spoke up about this seemingly conquistador attitude Disney was adopting for the sake of a movie, and fired back with a cartoon titled, “Muerto Mouse.”

Of course, Disney didn’t carry on with this process. But those of us with ties to the Mexican culture (in my case, born and raised south of the border), we waited since 2013 to find out why Disney had tried to own our holiday. And that reason is “Coco.”

Ironically, Alcaraz was hired by Pixar to work on this movie. He, along with playwright Octavio Solis, and heritage and arts author and advocate Marcela Davidson, collaborated with filmmakers to get things culturally right. Bravo! These consultants come from similar backgrounds to mine. “We grew up in bilingual households. We spoke Spanish and English in the schoolyard interchangeably,” said Solis.

I watched “Coco” at an advanced screening, and as you might imagine, I was skeptical of the end product. (Que no me salgan con una gringada!). As I sat there, I was pleasantly surprised to see the accuracy of the storytelling, and how Pixar managed to capture the feeling of the Day of the Dead with music, color, and especially the characters. My favorite is Gael Garcia Bernal as the voice of Hector.

I was simply mesmerized by the sheer volume of Marigolds they used throughout the movie! The most incredible thing about “Coco” is that it’s an amazing  gift to the Hispanic community. “Coco” is also for anyone who wants to understand what Dia De los Muertos is all about — it’s a timely cultural lesson.

Take your family to see this fabulous animated musical this Thanksgiving. Who knows, after watching “Coco,” you may walk out of the movie wanting to set up your own little memorial for your loved ones, too.

Gracias, Disney!

Coco

Rated PG

Runtime 109 minutes

Release Date November 22, 2017

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