It is rare that you delay seeing a film, and that increases its value. Usually by the time you get to see it, you have heard enough about it that it essentially ends up filling in the gaps of your knowledge. But watching Coco last week, as the horror of the child separation policy in the US unfolded, it felt like this was the perfect time to see Pixar’s latest offering.
In terms of plot is follows young Miguel who longs to be a musician, but due to the desertion by his great-great grandfather, his family have an aversion to all forms of music. He enters the Land of the Dead on the night of the Mexican celebration of the Day of the Dead. From there we meet diverse characters, encounter resolutions and betrayal in an entertaining manner which might be expected of Pixar. As a straight up family entertainment it is better than 90% of the fare out there, if not quite up with Pixar’s stand out hits such as Finding Nemo and Toy Story.
Where it has added depth is firstly in it placing Mexican life central to the plot. Mexicans are not used as a sidekick to Americans, there are no non-Mexicans in the script. That in itself for a mainstream movie is brave enough. Previous family movies, such as Beverly Hills Chihuahua have revealed a nasty colonial unspoken set of values. The purpose of Mexicans in these films is to help white Americans (I confess to ranting about this to my confused eight year old daughter after seeing this film at the cinema, she just liked the dogs. I apologise for yucking her yum). But more pertinently a recurring theme in the film is about crossing borders, who is allowed entry, and the unification of families. Given the language of ‘infestation’ and the clear historical echoes of children in internment camps. it seems that again, maybe animation is the way we approach big topics. I’m not sure it’s enough, but applause for being part of the revolution. Hey, Disney are the revolutionaries now?
In addition to this, it has a beautiful palette, a lot of great in-jokes and some cracking tunes.