- You should pack up the whole family to go see Pixar’s new movie “Coco.”
- And make sure to bring along tissues.
For its latest movie, “Coco,” Pixar tackled a real cultural celebration for the first time. But the result is the same as most of its other releases: a well-executed story that the whole family will love.
“Coco” (in theaters starting on Thanksgiving) is centered around the Mexican holiday Dia de los Muertos, a day dedicated to celebrating family members who have passed away.
12-year-old Miguel and his family are preparing for the holiday, but the boy also tries desperately to sneak off to the center of town whenever he can and play his guitar, though his family forbids it. Miguel’s great great grandfather ran out on the family to pursue his dreams of being a famous musician. The story of his betrayal has been passed down by generation, and now the family, who make a living as shoemakers, has banned music.
However, Miguel can’t help being drawn to music. He’s made a guitar and hides it in the attic. And he secretly watches footage of a legendary musician who came from his village, Ernesto de la Cruz (voiced by Benjamin Bratt).
The discovery of a photo makes Miguel believe De la Cruz is his great great grandfather. Convinced he is destined for greatness, Miguel plans to take part in the village’s music contest to prove to his family they are wrong for their distaste toward musicians. But his family finds out his plans and destroys his guitar. So Miguel sneaks into the mausoleum the village has built for De la Cruz and takes his guitar that’s on display to use at the contest.
And like every great Disney/Pixar movie, that’s the moment when things really start moving. Miguel is suddenly transported to the Land of the Dead after holding the guitar. The only way he can get back is to receive a blessing from a departed family member. So who better than De la Cruz? Miguel decides to set forth to find him. Along the way, Miguel runs into his other deceased relatives and a loner named Héctor (Gael García Bernal) who helps Miguel in his search for De la Cruz.
Directed by Lee Unkrich (“Toy Story 3”), “Coco” hits all the correct beats that will make it become a memorable Pixar movie (despite it having a weak second act). There are a lot of great jokes, the family story is heartfelt from the start, and the evolution of the plot once Miguel is in the Land of the Dead builds to a powerful climax (prediction: the movie’s song, “Remember Me,” will win the best original song Oscar). And Unkrich does it all with a very aware sense of being respectful to Mexican culture (there was even a point in the making of “Coco” when cultural consultants were brought in to help out, which had never been done before on a Pixar movie).
The movie may focus on Mexican heritage, but it’s a story that will be universally adored.
Yes, bring tissues with you to the theater.