Dia de los Muertos is a tradition enjoyed by many in the latin culture. It allows those among the living to remember those who have passed on. It also carries a hope that the spirits of the ancestors might visit the living to see their family still remembers them (which may provide some level of comfort for them in the afterlife). Also (for the living) it provides additional time to mourn the loss of family, grieve and possibly laugh and smile as stories are told recounting the cherished moments of time once spent together. So, does “Coco” deliver on the customs and traditions of this culturally important holiday or should we send this film off into the movie afterlife to only be forgotten? Let’s dive in and take a look in this review.
The design of this story is vibrant. It’s a colorful journey that explores the land of the living as well as the land of the dead. The two worlds don’t look identical either which makes for a pleasant visual experience at the movies. Normal life is a bit subdued with more plain tones, like tans, browns, etc. The afterlife is bright reds, greens, orange and more. The worlds are easily identifiable to us as viewers which made the overall presentation of this film enjoyable.
The story (in typical Pixar fashion) does pull, or attempts to pull, at your heart strings. The overall message seemed to revolve around family. We must love and cherish the family we have and the family we had. We must be understanding and supportive of each other while also still seeking out the blessings of our loved ones if we are to follow our hearts into unfamiliar avenues. The driving message of this film revolves around family and it does so quite well.
The movie doesn’t conclude as strongly as it begins unfortunately. It’s a boy who wants to be a musician but his family forbids it due to his great great grandfather leaving the family for life as an artist. So, instead of music, his family makes shoes. So the boy sets out on a journey to “seize his moment” and become the guitar player and singer that his great great grandfather was. And the whole movie revolves around him trying to be a musician, and his family saying no. Even after he finds his way into the land of the dead, his dead family doesn’t want him to have a life in music. For more than a single reason, he needs their blessing to follow his passion. By the end of the film we discover that his family is not who he thought they were and shoes are not the only means in which they’ll now be making money. However, the story of family, pursuing your dreams and honoring the dead suddenly takes a back seat to karma. The ending pivots and takes the movie in a completely different direction. The ending shows us that all will be made right in the end, and even death is not the great finale. However, death after death is possibly the very end? This was the emotional part of the film that punched most of the people in the movie right in the feels. I was too busy thinking about where this story was going and how we got to this shift in story.
“Coco” is in theaters now! I’m gonna recommend a big screen viewing for this film. While the ending felt separate from the story of a boy wanting to be a musician and needing his families blessing, everything leading up to that moment is great fun and worth while. In all, by the time the credits rolled, it felt like this story wanted to tell more than it was able to and because of that I left the theater slightly perplexed on what story specifically they wanted to tell. However, the musical numbers and the score are entertaining and there are some heartfelt moments sprinkled throughout. I enjoyed a few hearty laughs. Also, definitely keep your eyes on the visual design of Miguel as he travels through the land of the dead and becomes more translucent. The attention paid to his transformation was impressive and the team responsible for his transformation deserves a high five. Check this film out (maybe even in 3D)!