Detailing Coco: Movie Review

Image Courtesy of Walt Disney Studios Motion Pictures

Image Courtesy of Walt Disney Studios Motion Pictures

Surrounded by strangers in a theater is not the best place to break out in tears, but Disney and Pixar seem to be in the business of making audiences cry. Their latest film, Coco, directed by Lee Unkrich and co-directed by Adrian Molina, has domestically grossed more than $49 million in its opening weekend, topping the weekend box office.

Miguel, played by Anthony Gonzalez, finds himself misunderstood within his family, as they have a strict “no music” policy that his whole family abides by. His Abuelita, played by Renee Victor, implements this rule religiously, causing Miguel to desperately find a way to play music to a live audience, just like his idol, Ernesto de la Cruz. Miguel's attempts to perform publicly falls short as he finds himself in the "Land of the Dead" during the holiday of Dia de los Muertos, or the Day of the Dead.

With Coco being the first Disney/Pixar feature film centered around Mexican arts and culture, the creators of the film brushed through Mexico and its history with a fine-toothed comb in order to correctly pay homage to its rich culture. Research trips to Mexico and cultural consultants were utilized and helped contribute to the movie’s attention to detail.

The setting of the story takes place during Dia de los Muertos which, due to the intensive research done by the studio, accurately portrays the essence of the holiday itself. Coco takes on almost an educational role by displaying the usual Mexican traditions outside of the over exaggerated storytelling plot lines.

One detail that made it to the big screen was the inspiration of Guanajuato, which is a city in Mexico that helped inspire most of the film's vibrant scenery within the land of the dead. The animators also took into consideration the marigold petals that are often trailed to the alter of an ancestor, as per Dia de los Muertos tradition.

The trails, created by family members, can lead from the cemetery to a household in some cases. This is considered to be a pathway for ancestors to find their way back home. The marigold petals play a big role in the movie as Miguel’s family is seen creating a trail of marigold petals that lead, unknowingly, to the land of the dead, where bridges upon bridges of marigolds help the deceased cross over to visit their families during the holiday.

In an interview with the official Disney Company blog, “Oh my Disney,” the director of photography, Danielle Feinberg, explains that the photography department revised technology used in a former Disney/Pixar film, The Good Dinosaur, to help light the scenes within the film. The revised coding allowed the animators to fine tune the lights as individual lights rather than a collective group, causing for a vibrant and colorfully lit screen throughout.

Upon its opening, Coco fulfilled Pixar’s animation standard in terms of artwork and storyline. The vibrant and complex sceneries within the film are littered with finite detail all crafted by the creators of the film. Morally, the importance of family shines through, just as the quality of the film.