Animated, heart-felt, and music-filled, Pixar has a winner with “Coco”. Ancestors never looked so intriguing and wise as we count our blessings.
We are in Santa Cecilia, Mexico with a family of “zapateros” , or shoemakers. “Dream upon a Star” has a Mexican beat; but, while we are drawn into the music, this family shuns it. Except, that is, the young Miguel, whose idol is Ernesto de la Cruz, the famous guitarist.
Our backstory has the matriarch, Coco, so angry with the abandonment of her family by “guitar man”, that a “no music” rule has been established in their home. Miguel hangs with the mariachi band in the square and learns of a music competition in celebration of Dias de Muertos, Day of the Dead. The grave visitations, the Aztec marigolds, the favorite foods and possessions of ones’ ancestors, are all here.
The memorial crypt scene is wildly gorgeous. The dead rise, cross-overs find their families, faithful street dogs join in. All worlds connect in sumptuous color while bony heels clink in rhythm over cobblestones. The Pixar animation is delightful. Eyeballs drop, magic petals fly, and spirit monkeys with painted faces romp.
”Remember Me” is the song to remember at Oscar time.We learn that the final death comes only when no one remembers you. And it happens to everyone, eventually.
As well as familial ties, the power of music is a large theme in “Coco”. Our rebellious Miguel performs “Poco Loco” . He tells us that music is the only thing that makes him happy.
During Ernesto’s Gala , we are serenaded by upbeat music and skeletons swimming Esther Williams’ style. The dog Dante is delightful, and so is the dragon cat. We meet Hector and learn that he wrote Ernesto’s songs, and he was poisoned by him. We learn slowly that Hector is Coco’s father. “Remember Me” was written for her. The land of the living is more palatable because of the land of the dead. Enjoy the fireworks and the birth of new life, but remembering the old through the music of life is our takeaway.