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'Coco': Pixar's love letter to Mexican culture

News Desk
News Desk

The Jakarta Post

Jakarta | Fri, November 17, 2017 | 02:16 pm

Miguel (Anthony Gonzalez) is a passionate young boy who loves music. However, he is forbidden from being exposed to any kind of music because of his great-great grandmother, Mamá Imelda (Alanna Ubach). Although she is no longer alive, her rules were still passed down to the matriarch of the house, Abuelita (Renee Victor), who governs Miguel’s home with an iron fist. 

When Miguel discovers that he may have been related to a deceased celebrity, Ernesto de la Cruz (Benjamin Bratt), the ardent boy goes on a journey to seize his moment in the spotlight. But with no guitar, he decides to steal de la Cruz’s guitar placed in his crypt.

Miguel eventually gets cursed to roam the Land of the Dead until he gets a blessing from one of his dead relatives. Alongside him on this journey is a street dog named Dante and a smart-yet-sly skeleton named Héctor (Gael García Bernal).

Movie buffs might compare this movie to The Book of Life ( 2014 ), a movie about a music-lover who is forbidden from embracing music because of family pressure to be a bullfighter. Both of the main characters even have to embark on a journey to the Land of the Dead.

However, Coco explores the family-culture dynamic that The Book of Life glossed over.

The film explores what lies at the heart of how culture and family shape an individual as a whole, but it also shows how individuals can change their family and culture.

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The aspects that set the movie apart from other children’s movies this year is its handling of mature themes such as death, legacy, greed and betrayal. Coco is an emotional film that teaches kids the values of the past by showing its effects in the present. 

The film’s structure also reflects on its teachings as it builds up the drama and tragedy into an emotional climax. The climax is not a battle, but it's still a scene that centers on a character’s struggle to survive.

One of the two major flaws of this movie was its overall fast pacing that leaves the viewers unable to fully grasp the situation at times, quickly shifting from one scene to another. The other, which may be due to the aforementioned flaw, is its management of the predictable plot twist.

Overall, the movie was well constructed, well written (with a lot of literary allusions) and well animated. The jokes were naturally integrated with the story, functioning as more than cheap laughs. Also, the songs are sure to be an instant classic.

Coco is Pixar’s love letter to Mexican culture that will melt anyone’s heart and will leave most in tears as they walk out of the theater. (ezr/kes)