Review: 4 Palm Trees out of 4
by Manuel Reynoso
Coco is a 2017 musical, family film produced by Pixar Animation Studios and released by Walt Disney Pictures. Based on an original idea by Lee Unkrich, it is directed by Unkrich and co-directed by Adrian Molina.
For me, representation is lot more than just seeing someone with the same complexion as me on screen. It’s the embrace of what makes my culture unique and irreplaceable. It’s seeing our stories, our music, and our life up on the silver screen for all to enjoy, and I got that with Coco. The worldwide success and admiration for Coco is a victory for Mexican representation in Hollywood, and being able to see Coco at our local theater playing in Spanish is a small step in validating the Chicana/o people here in Ventura County. For me personally, it brought tears to my eyes. To see a film so meticulously exhibit the values and culture of a people, and move them to tears is what film inspires to be.
Coco’s ability to capture a people was the single most gratifying part of the movie. When I saw Coco on screen, I saw my abuelita. Then I saw my brother, my cousins, my uncles and so on. I saw what so many have tried and failed to do, and that was bringing the Mexican family to the big screen. The writing of these characters was genuine and natural. The world of the dead Pixar created was original and stunningly beautiful. So much care and craft went into the production of Coco and it shows from beginning to end.
The themes of family and death were heavily present during this film but treated with a lot of care. Death has always been an important matter in Mexican culture, and I believe Coco showed how our people handle it. The day of the dead aesthetic tends to serve as little more than window dressing, so seeing it used well aesthetically and in writing was great. While the writing may at times come off as predictable, it’s so well executed I found little issue with it. The biggest star attraction was the music. The familiar rhythms I’ve heard in Mexican music was used so effectively. It felt both nostalgic and fresh listening to the soundtrack on the way home from the theater.
Coco is going to be a film that stays near and dear to my heart for a long time. I think it’s a must watch for families of all cultures. While there’s a lot of fun and great music to enjoy, Coco will be a tear jerker for even the toughest of us. PG 1h49m