The Pioneer

‘Coco’ is the movie we’ve been waiting for

Isabel De Honor,
Contributor

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Pixar does it again! They’ve produced another award-winning tear-jerker with their latest release of “Coco” in November 2017, which recently won a whopping 11 trophies at the 45th Annie Awards, an American award ceremony dedicated to animation. It is also nominated for an Oscar in the category of Best Animated Feature, which will be presented on March 4 in Los Angeles.

In the film, a young boy, Miguel, wants to be just like his idol, Ernesto de la Cruz, a famous musician. He’s spent his entire life looking up to the musician and one day sneaks away from his family to perform at Mariachi Plaza on Dia De Los Muertos. Dia De Los Muertos translates to Day of the Dead, a Mexican holiday that celebrates the life of family and friends who have died. With his hand-crafted and almost identical de la Cruz guitar in hand, Miguel takes a leap towards his musical dreams.

However, one thing gets in the way. Music is completely forbidden in the Rivera family after Miguel’s great-great grandmother, Mama Imelda, and her daughter, Mama Coco, were abandoned by their musician husband and father. Instead, Miguel’s family dedicates their lives to making shoes in their family business and there is no way his family, both dead and alive, will let him live a musical life.

After stealing the real de la Cruz guitar, Miguel finds himself lost in the world of ancestors. To avoid any spoilers, because you absolutely need to see the movie for yourself instead of reading about it, I’ll stop there. In fact, I give you permission to stop reading this article and go watch the movie. Just don’t forget to come back!

Now that I’m hoping you’ve seen the movie, let’s talk about why “Coco” is the film we’ve all been waiting for. For years, Disney and Pixar have produced movies that are sure to touch the hearts of millions. We grew up on stories of love, family and following our hearts and “Coco” includes all of the above. For me, like countless other people, there is something special about “Coco.” The themes are universal, and even more meaningful for Latinx.

My great-grandmother, Maria, passed away at the age of 97 when I was very young. I don’t have many memories of her, but the ones that I do have remind me of Mama Coco. Much like Coco, Mama Maria couldn’t remember who we were due to dementia. Although she never really said much, there was something about her that made home feel like home.

I was excited and a bit nervous to see how Pixar represented my culture on the big screen. Mexican culture is rich in history, art and food. I was blown away by the details this film had in order to successfully give an accurate representation of my culture.

Throughout the film, I was amused by the little nods to a typical Mexican household. The film opened up with its classic Disney logo depicting Cinderella’s castle and the tune to “When You Wish Upon A Star” played by a mariachi band. This film has hilarious Mexican references like abuelita’s chancla, a Spanish word for slipper or, as Urban Dictionary accurately defines it, “the deadliest weapon known to a Latin Kid.” Of course, you can’t forget the reference to my favorite mouth-watering snack, the elote, a Spanish word for corn on the cob covered with mayo, cheese and chile, a.k.a, heaven’s greatest gift. “Coco” had me laughing and crying because the movie was all too relatable.

Yes, Pixar does a fantastic job displaying Mexican culture, but what I saw goes beyond that. As I sat in a crowded theatre about two months post release date, I noticed my Vietnamese and Filipino friends cry at the same parts of the movie as I did. They were able to connect to the story in a way that makes it universal.

I realized that we all have a Mama Coco. It’s been well over 15 years since Mama Maria passed. I may not have had many conversations with her, but her stories will live on. My family will hold onto the pictures we have of her, we’ll remember our trips to Mexico to see her and, of course, we’ll remember her iconic greyish-white braided hair.

Losing family is never easy. For some, “Coco” is a deep dive into the concept of death. For others, it’s exactly what makes us human. It speaks to adults and children alike, even though this cartoon tackles life and death issues. Despite what some may think, however, this movie is not about death. It’s about keeping our loved ones alive through storytelling.

As an audience, we relate to themes of family and the fear of being forgotten. Adrian Molina, co-director of “Coco,” said in an interview with Screen Rant, “This is something that will not only be meaningful for Mexicans and the Mexican culture that it comes from, but this is something that can really touch the world, because we all come from families.”

There is a reason why “Coco” is an award winning feature with 56 awards and counting. “Coco” sets an example of how a movie can both celebrate a single culture and be impactful on a global audience.

“Coco” was directed by Lee Unkrich and Adrian Molina. It is still in theatres because of its Oscar nomination. Don’t miss it on the silver screen!

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‘Coco’ is the movie we’ve been waiting for