Disney is best known for making films for children, and they are very good at it, but over the recent years, they have become better and better at creating films that not only entertain children but teach important mature lessons to them. In 2017, Disney and Pixar brought Coco to the big screen, bringing the Mexican tradition of day of the dead to life in big and beautiful bursts of colour with a story of family history and belief. It’s touching story, combined with music and funny characters, proved popular, with the film gaining a score of 97 percent on Rotten Tomatoes.
Coco tells the story of Miguel (Anthony Gonzalez), a 12 year old boy growing up in a family of shoe makers. He has grown up with the story of his ancestors and the great grandfather who left his family to become a musician. Since then, music has been banned in his family but young Miguel dreams of playing music just like his idol Ernesto De La Cruz (Benjamin Bratt). A discovery of a long lost family secret sends Miguel to the land of the dead on a technicolour adventure full of music and skeletons, where he searches for the truth of his ancestors with the help of Hector (Gael Garcia Bernal), a spirit desiring to be remembered in the land of the living.
The entire events of Coco rotate around the theme of day of the dead, a Mexican traditional day of celebration and honouring those who have passed on. It is believed that if a living person places a photograph of the deceased on display for this day that the deceased can then visit them. This opening between the two lands is used to transport a living Miguel into the land of the dead where he meets his ancestors and tries to discover the truth behind the music ban that has haunted his family for generations. With a cast of latino performers and plenty of latino inspired music, Coco brings a truly diverse story to life.
Young star Anthony Gonzalez lends his voice as Miguel, an instantly likeable character with a believable dream. He doesn’t want to be a shoe maker like the rest of his family, he wants to play music like his hero. In the land of the dead, he is able to learn and grow both as a musician and as a person. As Hector, Gael Garcia Bernal plays a lovable rogue of a character, one who we learn a lot about as the film progresses. He has a past to uncover, and wants nothing more than to be remembered in the land of the living by his descendants.
We are introduced to a colourful crowd of skeleton characters in the equally colourful land of the dead, including many of Miguel’s ancestors and many a musician celebrating Ernesto Del La Cruz. The design of this movie is truly beautiful, with petals and swirls of colour connecting the two worlds and a True Tone of celebration running through the entire design from flags and colourful skulls associated with the traditional day of the dead celebrations. It seems that with each Disney Pixar film that is released, the design just gets better and better. With Coco, you are easily drawn into this colourful world.
Music is incredibly important to the plot of Coco, and the music used throughout is gorgeous. The theme of remembrance runs through the entire story and with ‘Remember Me’, we are treated to a truly beautiful song that matches the plot perfectly. Every now and again Disney just gets it right with a song and ‘Remember Me’ is the perfect example of just getting it right. It’s soft and touching, whilst being simplistic enough to stick with you.
To conclude, Coco is a colourful adventure movie with a truly touching message at its heart. It’s funny enough to keep younger children entertained, whilst older children and families can also appreciate the comedy and its important messages. Coco is available to stream on Disney Plus.