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‘Coco’ celebrates family through music and culture

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Pixar’s Coco, directed by Lee Unkrich, surprises audiences with stunning visuals, inviting music, and a heartwarming story. Surrounding the celebrations of Dia de los Muertos (Day of the Dead), the film follows a 12 year-old boy, Miguel Rivera (Anthony Gonzalez), on his journey to discovering his ancestral past and musical talents with the help of Héctor (Gael García Bernal), a homeless skeleton, and his hairless dog, Dante.

The animation studio, Pixar, is well-known for their innovative visuals and Coco was no exception. From the smallest detail to the grand wide shots, the film is filled with vibrant set pieces that leave the audience in awe. One great example of the how incredibly complex 3D animation can be is the wide shot where Miguel is seeing the city of the dead for the first time. As the camera pans, one sees the colorful city with thousands of lights filling up the screen leaving not only the character but the viewers breathless. Furthermore, the tiny details of the marigolds to Miguel’s individual hairs on his arm demonstrates the powerful abilities of animation.

Coco is Pixar’s first musical and having the film based in Mexico, the music draws a strong influence from genres like Mariachi, Salsa, Bolero, and Flamenco. Songs like “Un Poco Loco” and “Proud Corazón” have an upbeat and happy tempo that cannot help but bring a smile on someone’s face as it plays. The films revamps a traditional song , “La Llorona,” with an thrilling quick-paced version during the last act of the movie.

The music is especially important to the plot of the film, since Miguel wants to become a musician despite his family despising everything about music. Throughout the movie, music is his driving force to first achieve his goal of meeting Ernesto de la Cruz (Benjamin Bratt), a world famous singer who he believes is his great-great grandfather, but later music becomes a tool that helps Miguel understand the importance of family.

Having  Coco based around Dia de los Muertos, it does an excellent job of representing Mexican culture without forcing any stereotypes. With an all-latino cast, several songwriters, and co-director, Adrian Molina, Pixar ensures that the Mexican culture and traditions are respected. Even down to the pan dulce (sweet bread) and special cameos from famous latinos, Coco fulfills all expectations and goes above and beyond to showcase the rich culture. Although the film focuses on a Mexican holiday, the overall theme of the story is universal. Audiences of any background can relate to the importance of family and respecting of one’s elders.

So whenever you personally celebrate Dia los Muertos or just enjoy a great films about family, Coco offers hilarious, musical, and emotional moments for anyone to enjoy.

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