We previewed this movie last week, and I admit the trailers I had seen on TV left me uninspired. The movie however was gorgeous, entertaining and even educational. We absolutely loved it.
“‘Coco’ is about a 12-year-old boy with big dreams,” says director Lee Unkrich. “It’s about a hardworking family with great traditions and a lot of love. But what’s so cool about ‘Coco’ is that the boy could be my son. That family could live next door. The sweet, bossy grandmother who insists on one more bite might be your grandma. There’s something familiar to us all in this story. That’s what makes it so special.”
The universal theme of family resonated with ﬁlmmakers. “We are all part of a family,” says co-director and screenwriter Adrian Molina. “Those relationships are beautiul and complicated. But our family shapes who we are, which made us wonder—if you had an opportunity to meet your ancestors, what would you recognize in them that you see in yourself?”
Miguel’s great, great grandfather had left the family to pursue a music career and left the mom (Mama Imelda) to raise the family all by herself. She was a strong and proud woman who turned to shoe-making which became the family business. She also demanded that music be banned from everyone’s life as that was the cause of the family’s breakdown:
Pixar Animation Studios’ 19th feature ﬁlm introduces Miguel, an aspiring singer and self-taught guitarist who dreams of following in the footsteps of his idol, Ernesto de la Cruz, the most famous musician in the history of Mexico. But Miguel’s family forbids music. Many years ago, his great-great-grandmother and great-great-grandfather came to an impasse: She wanted to raise their family together in Santa Cecilia, but he couldn’t let go of his dream, leaving his family behind in his quest to be a musician. Passed down from generation to generation, great-great-grandmother Mamá Imelda’s consequent ban on music is strictly enforced—much to Miguel’s dismay. “When Miguel unearths a secret from his family’s past—a connec on to Ernesto de la Cruz, he rushes to share the news with his family, thinking it will clear the way for him to be a musician,” says screenwriter Matthew Aldrich. “To his surprise, it only makes matters worse.”
Miguel’s family is run by his Ubuela, Mama Imelda’s granddaughter, who holds steadfast to the rule of no music! Her mom is a wizened old woman in a wheelchair, she is Coco, the little girl from the photos we see of the original family.
This movie is about family, present, and those already dead. One of the most amazing takeaways of the film was the education we received about the meaning and the traditions of Día de los Muertos, the Mexican celebration of the Day of the Dead. I had no idea how beautifully this holiday is celebrated, and how rich the customs are. From the marigolds that guide the spirits home, to the pictures on the Ofrenda to honor those who have passed, to the family time used to share these wonderful memories, and how they are passed on to the younger generation.
Naturally, Miguel, one of the new generation, loves music and wants to play and perform. His grandmother forbids it and this leads to the whole family exploring their past, and learning a new way to move into the future.
I interviewed co-director Adrian Molina, please read that here. I learned about the steps taken to bring this movie to the big screen in the most authentic way possible.
I learned about the stories behind some of the beautiful music we hear in the movie. Several different forms of the main song, Remember Me, are played throughout, and by the end left me in tears. And then I found out that the song was written by some of my favorite songwriters, the Lopez’s (remember them from that little movie called Frozen!). The music in this movie is absolutely gorgeous!
Now you get to meet La Familia:
I immediately recognized the voice of Miguel’s dad, actor Jaime Camil! He is Rogelio, the dad on Jane the Virgin!
Here is La Familia, that have passed on, although they are not gone:
Disney•Pixar’s “Coco” opens in U.S. theaters on Nov. 22, 2017.
Disclosure: We received tickets to the movie to facilitate this review. All opinions are always 100% honest and our own.