Hi everyone! So over the winter holiday break I had I saw the movie Coco and thought it would be nice to review it for you. I typically wait to see movies until they are available at my local library or Netflix but I knew right away that I wanted to see Coco. As the movie came out back in November, I am sure that there are plenty of other reviews already up but I wanted to add my thoughts on the film as well.
This will be a short review as my weekend class has taken quite a lot out of me! As I type I am also trying to install Microsoft Office which I get through my school. The issue is that I have a Mac so it doesn’t quite work the same and the add-ins that would make my life so much easier probably won’t work either. Sigh. I think I’ll be spending a lot of time over the next three weeks at the public library. At least I have a usable version of Word, Excel, and PowerPoint now!!! (I think. It’s still updating.)
Back to the review! (Photos not mine, I got them from Google with no copy right infringement intended.) Don’t worry, I won’t spoil the story beyond the first five minutes or so as I will reference a few events that occur in the opening.
When Coco was first announced I was so excited to see a movie centered around one of the most interesting (to me anyway) holidays in the world, Day of the Dead! My parents are from Mexico and specifically the state that does especially wonderful celebrations for this holiday so I thought it would be nice to see that portrayed in film.
I would say that right now Hollywood is into creating “love letter” films. We heard this phrase for “La La Land” to Hollywood itself, “Skyfall” to the Bond films, and now I think Coco is such a film for the Mexican culture. That was the feeling I got right away the moment the film started. The main character, Miguel, is a young boy who lives with his extended family of shoemakers. We see the entire family working together as well as Miguel’s interactions with them and his own work. As he heads out through his town to work as a shoeshine, he interacts with his community as well in a way that seems familiar for Mexican towns and gives a strong feeling of nostalgia, at least from my experience from my visits.
The characters all are so realistic as well. Miguel is asked by his grandmother if he wants more food, and she is offended when he tries to refuse. This was so relatable as it happens all the time in Mexican families (and probably others as well). He is also told that he should talk to his great-grandmother although she is not too responsive and as any other young boy would, he perhaps takes it too far and tells her everything.
There’s plenty to relate to, even if the viewer is not Mexican. Miguel is told at one point that he is to give up his shoeshine job and join the family business to learn their trade. This is just as he has decided to pursue his passion for music despite his family’s, particularly his grandmother’s, strong opposition to music. At one time or another we have all faced intense pressures to go along with something that our family has chosen for us rather than what we want to do ourselves. Miguel’s strong family ties clashes with his individualistic goals in this instance, causing the plot to really pick up from there.
If there is one thing that I regret, is that my family and I didn’t see it in Spanish. I think the movie would have been greatly enhanced by that, and I normally despise seeing a movie in anything but the original language. The movie was amazing in English but I think it would have been even more so to see it in the language of the culture. There is an app that you can download from Pixar and sync the app to listen to the movie in Spanish while in the theatre. I probably wouldn’t have gone that far but if we had had greater flexibility and it was easy to find a Spanish showing I would have preferred it. Ultimately we didn’t have much of a choice for which time we could go as my sister had to go back to Chicago for work and the Fandango app and the movie theater website didn’t specify which showings were in English and which were in Spanish.
Overall it was quite clear that the filmmakers had done much research into the holiday and culture. There were many explanations as to why the family was doing certain things, as shown in the scene when Miguel’s young cousins were dumping marigold flower petals onto the ground and they were told to sprinkle them out in a pathway to lead their relatives home.
The music was beautiful and matched the film perfectly. My parents expressed slight surprise, bordering on disappointment, that the songs were original rather than music they knew, but I didn’t feel that at all. Pixar used their musical powerhouse team, Kristen Anderson-Lopez and Robert Lopez (who also did the music for Frozen) and the music was incredible. The genres of mariachi, salsa, bolero, and flamenco greatly influence the music, while also bringing in pop elements. I would say the music was the reason that I really would have preferred to see the movie in Spanish as the music was in English and that did take me out of the experience a little bit. In Spanish the music is translated as well so I think I would have preferred that.
In the end, Pixar created a beautiful film full of respect and love for Dia de los Muertos and the culture around it. I would highly recommend you see this film if you haven’t already. No matter what language you view this film in, it’s sure to shine.
That’s my thoughts on Coco! Have you seen the film? If so, let me know what you thought!
Thanks for reading!
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