Telling a story that contains a prevalent element of death in the most magical, child friendly, yet sophisticated way possible is a tough ask, but Coco does it - and does it well. The Disney Pixar animation is full of colour and culture, that is bound to leave you walking out of the cinema with a feeling of utter warmth and a spring in your step as you immediately download Remember Me to your Spotify playlist.
The film follows a story of Miguel, a young boy who dreams of following in the footsteps of his musician hero, Ernesto de la Cruz. However, Miguel’s family despise music and have his future of the family shoe-making business already set in their heads. On the Day of the Dead or Dia de Muertos, a traditional Mexican celebration that honours deceased loved ones, Miguel finds himself in the Land of the Dead, where he meets Hector. They embark on a journey together, where they discover that Hector has more relevance to Miguel and his love for music than you initially think.
Family is an important element in Mexican society and indeed it was the focal point of the film. The storyline is built on relationships, old ones strengthen and unlikely ones form, particularly between Miguel and Dante, the dog that quickly becomes Miguel’s associate. The inclusion of strong family values is a tasteful ode to Mexican culture and the bond between each character adds another layer of depth to an already complex storyline, especially for a film aimed at a younger demographic.
A stand out element in the film are the musical numbers, but particularly, the Oscar nominated original song, Remember Me, which was heard as a slower acoustic version as well as the original, upbeat version. Written by the hit producing song writing duo that wrote “Let It Go” from Disney’s animated feature film ‘Frozen’, Kristen Anderson-Lopez and Robert Lopez, Remember Me is catchy, uplifting and incredibly deserving of its Oscar nomination – be prepared for a few spine tingling moments.
Compared to other Pixar films such as Toy Story and Finding Dory, Coco has an incessant element of culture. A key cultural moment in the film is the Day of the Dead and in terms of cultural accuracy, Coco gets it right. The Day of the Dead is a celebration of colour and vibrancy, something that this animation is certainly not short of. Small details such as the ‘altar’, which is the centrepiece of any Day of the Dead celebration are done to perfection, with the inclusion of candles and photographs that each represent absent family members.
The storyline and the significance of the Mexican culture lend themselves tremendously to a Pixar animation, the way colour is used, particularly in the Land of the Dead is mesmerising and packs a punch on the big screen. The animation has been executed in a way that is slick and realistic, down to the minute detail of perfectly aligned shadows from candle light. The vibrant Mexican culture paired with Pixar animation is a match made in heaven.
Directors Lee Unkrich and Adrian Molina have produced a Disney Pixar with depth and cultural relevance that educates and engages an audience of all ages, a must see film that will unearth emotions you never knew existed.