I’ve finally made a dent on my expanding TBW pile last night by watching Disney Pixar’s animated movie Coco. I didn’t expect though to be sooooo emotional after seeing a cartoon although I should have, after Pixar’s Finding Nemo, Toy Story and Up. Coco had a similar message but a different charm and I found myself still crying even 10 minutes after the credits have rolled. That’s pretty heavy — in an entirely good way.
Synopsis: Miguel Rivera (Anthony Gonzalez) comes from a long and proud line of shoemakers in a small town in Mexico. He loves his family but his family doesn’t seem to understand that his heart lies with music, something that the family has banned from their home after Miguel’s great great grandfather abandoned his great great grandmother to pursue his dreams to perform on stage. On the Day of the Dead, the one day in the year when the dead are allowed to come down to earth to visit their loved ones, Miguel finds himself reunited with his departed loved ones and stuck in the afterlife, where he tries to find his long lost great great grandad, whom he he discovered to be the greatest known musician in Mexico, Ernesto dela Cruz (Benjamin Bratt).
At first, Coco starts off like any other Disney Pixar movie — fun and colorful, introducing elements like culture and family and slowly easing in on the conflict. It successfully underscores the importance of Miguel’s secret dream and how hard it was for him to be different from the rest of his family. You feel his helplessness as he tries to explain how much he loved music as much as they loved shoes. While the love among the family members was established, there was a sense of disconnection between the characters.
The story starts to deviate from the norm and finds its groove when Miguel finds himself in the afterlife where he discovers that the things he took for granted like having a family member’s picture mounted on the ofrenda was really important for the dead. As he witnesses how those who are forgotten disappear, he also begins to understand the import of remembering one’s roots.
I’m not ashamed to admit that I cried many times throughout the film. I was especially touched when Mama Imelda, who at first, seemed stern and unbending, suddenly breaks out into song to make Miguel understand why she was against music. The second was when Hector and Miguel bonded over music in their performance to win tickets to dela Cruz’s show. When Hector told Miguel the story of why he wanted to go home to the land of the living, even once, I well and truly lost it. I was bawling my eyes out by the time they sang Remember Me, again and again, and again.
There were surprising elements in the revelation when the connection between dela Cruz and Hector (Gael Garcia Bernal) was revealed. It was pretty intense for an animated movie intended for kids. And I for one, was blown away by the twist. And I was especially impressed with how the music truly became a part of the story. Disney is an expert when it comes to delivering memorable songs but Coco takes the cake. The music and the lyrics in the songs used on the OST connects to the audience in a different level. I can’t listen to Remember Me without remembering the scenes and tearing up.
All in all, I was well and truly impressed by how Coco managed to celebrate Mexican culture and tradition with the wonderful details of the animation. The film really came to life in a unique and different way. The OST was also one of the best that Disney Pixel had to offer and really stepped up the emotional level of the movie. In my opinion, the purity of the voice acting also played a major factor in the film’s success.The film also had a very moving message — that while families won’t always understand one another, love will overcome every obstacle. Congratulations to director John Lasseter for pulling another memorable film.