Last year, Disney and Pixar crafted the animated epic Moana that resonated with and brought Polynesian culture into the mainstream. This year they’ve moved to the other side of the ocean to Mexico to bring an uplifting and soul-stirring musical. (And for the last time, no, it’s not just the Book of Life made by Pixar, stop saying that).
While it’s called ‘’Coco’’, the story focuses on the title characters great-great-grandson, Miguel Rivera. The Rivera’s family business as shoe makers began when Coco’s father left to become a famous musician. Coco’s mother Imelda forba de any music in her household continuing to Miguel’s life. But Miguel is enamoured with musical legend Ernesto de la Cruz and wishes to be a musician himself. Miguel, discovering an old incomplete photo of Coco’s father holding a guitar, begins to believe that Ernesto is his great-great grandfather. After a falling out with his family, Miguel runs off with his Xolo dog Dante (who is just the most lovable mangy dog you ever did see).
Miguel and Dante head to the cemetery where Ernesto is buried, taking his guitar displayed in his crypt, but doing so curses Miguel and he crosses over into the Land of the Dead. Meeting with his late relatives including great-great grandmother Imelda, Miguel must return to the Land of the Living before the end of Dia de Muertos. However, Imelda will only sent Miguel back if he agrees never to play music again. Unwilling to accept this, Miguel runs off in search of Ernesto to get his blessing to return to life and play music.
To this end, Miguel enlists the help of Hector, a skeleton who is unable to cross into the living world on Dia de Muertos because no one puts up a picture of him on their ofrenda. Miguel promises to place Hector’s photo if he can get him to Ernesto’s palace. The two head off, with Imelda and her family in pursuit alongside their alebrije- spirit animal- a multicoloured winged jaguar. Her name is Pepita.
Coco is nothing short of Disney and Pixar patented tried and true magic, and will become a cherished classic, especially for Mexican children and their families, because that’s exactly who the movies about. Beautifully animated, Disney one-up’s themselves not just in the intricate and colourful city in the Land of the Dead but in how Miguel handles a guitar, the attention to detail is astounding. And of course the songs are exactly what you expect, all original scores that have a deep emotional resonates in particular, the song Remember Me. In short Coco is the kind of movie that makes you really feel alive.
By Daniel Murphy