Reader Rating (Rate Here): [Total: 5 Average: 4.6/5]
Directed By: Lee Unkrich
Cast: Anthony Gonzalez, Gael Garcia Bernal, Alanna Ubach, Benjamin Bratt, Ana Ofelia Murguia
Language: English, Mexican
Coco is an animated story of a spirited young boy Miguel Rivera (Anthony Gonzalez) with a love for music. But, there is a catch- he is born in a family where (absolute) hatred for music is passed on through the generations. Coco is a colorful and beautifully crafted cornucopia of emotions rich with Mexican mythology and traditions and soulful music.
Coco is about Miguel, a 12 year old boy who lives in a small town of Santa Cecilia. He is passionate about music and idolizes the greatest popular singer-songwriter, Ernesto de la Cruz. He has a guitar stashed in the attic concealed from his music hating family. Miguel practices secretly with his pet street dog called Dante. The Family has banned the music ever since Miguel’s great-great grandfather abandoned the family in pursuit of stardom. To mend her broken heart, Miguel’s great great grandmother got into the shoe making business to sustain the family. And from that time on, the profession has been passed through the generations. On the “Day of the dead” or as the Mexicans call it “Día de Muertos” he steals a guitar from his idol’s tomb. Thus, the cursed Miguel ends up in the land of the dead.
The souls of the people inhabit the land of the dead. And they can travel back to earth only on Día de Muertos, when they are remembered by their families. And the forgotten people leave the land of the dead and fade away to nothingness. Miguel’s ticket back is to have the blessings of his ancestor. His great great grandmother Mamá Imelda Rivera (Alanna Ubach) agrees but on the condition that he will abandon his music. So he pursues his other ancestor- great great grandfather – Ernesto de la Cruz (Benjamin Bratt).
Miguel enlists the help of a trickster Hector (Gael Garcia Bernal) who he meets by chance. Hector has his own agenda of visiting his daughter Coco (Ana Ofelia Murguia) on Earth. She is too old and her memory is fading. And thus he is on the verge of forever fading away. How Miguel leaves the land of the dead and unites his torn up family forms the emotional joyride called Coco.
Coco is a movie about Family, the sacrifices and the love it takes to be together for generations. It also talks about memories- People die but the memories stay forever. It is the memories which helps the dead visit the living. The folklore carried through the generations keeps the memories alive. Coco was able to give this metaphorical part a literal sense. Land of the Dead is a transient place made of memories and people exist exactly the way they are remembered. The animals they loved, the age they passed away at and the clothes they used to wear. Coco has given a huge importance to images like the photographs which the Rivera family keeps to remember their ancestors. Which validated by the fact, we always take photos of the places we visit to be able to recall later.
Lee Unkrich (Toy Story 3,Finding Nemo) has directed Coco and has created a movie true to the Mexican culture. The actors giving the voice-overs, the traditions or the food. There are references to Tamale, the main food item made during Día de Muertos. Even the dog, Dante is a Xoloitzcuintli: a Mexican hairless dog.
Miguel’s chase to find his ancestors while running against time is thrilling even though you already know the outcome. Every turn and twist is emotional and every plotline intertwined with familial ties. I love the fact the movie is titled Coco while the importance of the character is revealed only in the very end. It is a musical journey where everyone sings with Miguel- while he searches for his family- helped by the dead and the guitar.
Coco’s music is outstanding, “Remember Me” or “Recuerdame” won the Academy award for Best Song. And it is also the main theme of the film with various artists singing their own versions of it. But my favorite “Un Poco Loco” sung by Anthony Gonzalez and Gael García Bernal has an endearing mischievousness.
Finally, Coco is a movie for all ages- it’s musical brilliance takes you across worlds through an emotional journey. And by the end of it you will shed a happy tear or two. For me Coco is the movie of the year and inspired by Coco I am thinking of buying a guitar!