Every country marks the day of the dead in a different way. Here in the Philippines, we spend time with living family, tend to the graves of those who went ahead, light candles, and give offerings of flowers… generally having either a solemn or fun time with loved ones.
Mexico, on the other hand, celebrates it so vibrantly that folks have come to recognize and link colorful sugar skulls with their Día de los Muertos, Mexico’s Day of the Dead. In fact, Pixar’s 19th feature movie “Coco” revolves around this day. Why, the screen literally explodes with color, music and tradition.
The movie is about young boy Miguel and how his dream of becoming a musician goes against his family’s wishes. And so his search for a connection goes beyond the living realm and into the Land of the Dead.
Make no mistake, this is no morbid tale. On the contrary, despite the many skeletons on display, there is nothing menacing about it. If Pixar could make us believe a sewer rat becoming a successful chef in “Ratatouille,” and make our mouths water with his gastronomic creations, then they can certainly depict human mortality in a family-friendly way. In fact, “Coco” is one movie kids should drag their grandparents to watch. The colorful sugar skulls, spirit animals and the multitude of songs make this a very visually appealing film. (If you keep an eye out, you’ll see a nice Easter egg of favorite old Disney characters in the first few minutes).
With the lead being an aspiring musician, there are of course songs to be sung, and in that sense Pixar has now strayed into Disney formula territory, something the founders fought hard against. In this instance at least, the lines have blurred somewhat between a Disney animated film, and a Pixar animated film.
“Coco” has been compared to another film called “Book Of Life” and has received it’s fair share of flack. It has been called a ripoff and I’m happy to say it is totally different. From start to finish, “Coco” has nothing but love and heart. Love for music, love for family, love for tradition, love for continuity and love for life. You will leave the theater with a few tears, and heart full of family.