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Photo by: Pixar
Movie Review: “Coco”
November 25, 2017
Pixar’s “Coco” is a must-see children’s movie that was released on Tuesday night, just in time to
warm the hearts of many before the holidays. Set in Mexico, the movie’s main character Miguel Rivera is
a 12- year-old boy whose one dream is to be a musician like his idol, Ernesto de la Cruz. However, there
is one major obstacle standing in his way: his family forbids music because Miguel’s great-great-
grandfather left his wife and child, Coco, to pursue his musical career. Miguel, like his great-great-
grandfather, is confronted with a difficult choice between his family and passion for music. Struggling
with his internal conflict, the boy embarks on a rather unique journey through the land of the dead to
discover the importance of cherishing family. At the story’s climax, Miguel reveals secrets from his
family’s past that ultimately lead him to discovering the true hero and villain. As the movie progresses, its
deeper meaning surfaces in such an impactful way that forces its viewers to reflect upon their own family
members, the living and deceased. Some viewers may even find Miguel’s dilemma to be relatable to their
Written and directed by Lee Unkrich, the movie celebrates cultural diversity while incorporating
key components of a well-written script: an identifiable plot, main characters, the conflict and the overall
message. The plot and general messages are simple concepts to comprehend. However, viewers,
especially children, who are not educated about the “Day of the Dead” may be confused about the setting
of the movie.
The Mexican cultural holiday, the Day of the Dead, honors deceased relatives. As the tradition
goes, Mexican families believe the gates of heaven open on Nov. 1 and 2 to allow the deceased to join
their families in the holiday’s festivities. As emphasized in the movie, the families prepare extravagant
altars, or ofrendas, in memory of their late loved ones. Sugar skulls are also derived from this tradition, as
families would decorate them to represent departed souls. I assume most children would not understand
this reoccurring theme in the movie. Their lack of knowledge, however, barely affects their interest in the
movie, as the goofy characters and impressive animations keep them entertained.
As stated above, about one-third of the animation takes place in ‘the land of the dead.’ Parents
may find this off-putting and inappropriate for their children to watch. However, the producers animated
all characters to humor children. Sugar-skulled skeletons and electric spirit animals decorate each scene,
while a stretch of songs sung by Miguel and his family add to the light-hearted atmosphere of the movie.
While some scenes seemed stretched, I noticed the movie kept both children and adults entertained by
incorporating a unique blend of elements both age groups would appreciate. For instance, children giggle
at the dog’s and skeleton’s silly gestures and sound effects, while adults can appreciate the stronger
messages within the context of the movie. The movie’s festive colors, complex animations and blatant
references to the Mexican culture resonates well with its audience and reflects positively on Pixar.
With an intriguing twist of events, the main character consistently reveals the simple truth our
busy culture may sometimes forget: Family is most important.