Tugging at the Heartstrings with Coco. Review and Giveaway

Disclamer: The Fandads were invited to an advance screening of COCO and all thoughts opinions and tears are our own.

As soon as the familiar Disney logo appeared on screen and mariachi guitars started playing “When you wish Upon a Star”, I knew I was about to watch something special. Just that little nuance was enough to show me that Disney took the time they did to make this movie. This film has been in production since 2011. Coco is not a “let’s pull in the Spanish market” movie, it is a “Let’s tell a great story about Spanish culture” movie. 

Coco is about a young boy named Miguel, voiced by Anthony Gonzalez, who wants to be a musician. For many years in his family, even before he was born, music was banned by his great-great grandmother Mamá Imelda. It seems that her husband decided that being a musician was more important and once he left, everything having to do with music was banned from the house. She started a shoe making business and that became the family business for Miguel’s family. 
Miguel decides that he wants to be a musician no matter what his grandmother says and that is where the adventure in this movie begins. The voyage to the Land of the Dead is beautiful to see, not only because of all the bright colors and colorful skeletons but also because of the fantastic music that is playing throughout the land. 
In the Land of the Dead, Miguel is in search of Ernesto de la Cruz, played by Benjamin Bratt,  because he feels there is a connection between the two of them. While on the hunt he befriends Hector, played by Gael García Bernal, who says he will help Miguel meet Ernesto. Along their journey, the two enter a singing contest, run from police and Miguel learns about the “last death”. 

Yeah, we can get into spoiler territory here but the Fandads do not want to ruin this movie for you. There is a big bad in this movie like in most Pixar movies, but it is unexpected when it is revealed. Speaking of being revealed, during the movie we spotted a few easter eggs. The Pizza Planet truck makes a blink-and-you-miss-it cameo. Woody and Buzz are Piñatas in the plaza and Nemo makes an appearance on the table of Alebrijes in the plaza. We know there are probably more, but it will take multiple viewings to find them all.

When the Fandads did a giveaway for screenings of Coco we asked our readers why they wanted to see the movie and the one word that kept coming up was “culture”. My family is from Guatemala and Dia de los Muertos was something that we did not celebrate. I have heard about it and read a few things here and there, but it was just something that we did not do.

As I got older I started seeing references to it everywhere and it seemed to be something that was celebrated more today than when I was younger. Looking at Miguel’s great-grandma Coco, she reminded me of my grandmothers. Talking to my friend later that evening, Coco and Miguel’s Abuelita are pretty much an amalgamation of Hispanic grandmothers everywhere.

After the movie finished my daughter asked me if we can do an ofrenda next year and that bought a tear to my eye. I want my children to learn about their grandparent’s cultures, but I don’t want to force it on them and I think this movie made my daughter more curious to learn about my side of the family. It made her a little more curious to learn about the Hispanic culture that she is a part of. That’s where this movie shines. I feel that it will make Hispanic people walk out of the theater proud of their heritage and want others to see that their culture has a lot to offer.

One of the great things that Pixar is doing with this movie is showing it in select locations dubbed in Spanish or subtitled in Spanish. I think seeing it in this way will be a little bit more powerful because it takes away the need to talk Spanglish when describing cultural differences that might be new to the Anglo audience watching the movie. As much as I loved the movie, hearing them go from English to Spanish felt a little too Dora the Explorer-ish to me.

If you want to see the movie in Spanish check out Pixar’s site to see where it is playing in your city.

Final Thoughts – Coco is the movie that Latino children have been waiting for. I know it felt great to see a character that has the same background as me and family values being portrayed on the big screen. It is a movie that will probably become a tradition in our household to watch every October and remember what is really important in our lives: Family.

Kid Friendly – The movie is a Disney/Pixar movie and so this is great for them. My 4 and 8 year-old were sucked in from the beginning and were completely focused on the movie. The one aspect of the movie that might be scary for children is the Land of the Dead with all the skeletons walking around. I saw one kid at our screening get a little scared, but it seemed that the initial scare wore off after a while.

Violence – There really isn’t any violence in the movie, but the big reveal from the villain might be a little too adult for children.

Fandads Rating – 5 out of 5

As a way to celebrate the release of Coco, the Fandads will be giving away a prize pack consisting of a movie poster, guitar pick and bandana to a few of our lucky readers.

Despite his family’s baffling generations-old ban on music, Miguel (voice of newcomer Anthony Gonzalez) dreams of becoming an accomplished musician like his idol, Ernesto de la Cruz (voice of Benjamin Bratt). Desperate to prove his talent, Miguel finds himself in the stunning and colorful Land of the Dead following a mysterious chain of events. Along the way, he meets charming trickster Hector (voice of Gael García Bernal), and together, they set off on an extraordinary journey to unlock the real story behind Miguel’s family history.

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