The new Pixar film “Coco” won the hearts of millions after its release in theaters on Thanksgiving Day. Pixar’s best film since “Toy Story 3,” “Coco” authentically portrays Mexican culture in a fun, loving way for all audiences. As a first-generation Mexican American who spent a few years living in Mexico and visits her family in Mexico twice a year, I can safely say that “Coco” represents Mexican culture in an authentic, beautiful and more importantly, respectful way.
I was completely blown away at how the Pixar team managed to portray Los Dia de los Muertos (the Day of the Dead) in such an educational manner. It taught the audience how Mexicans actually celebrate this sacred holiday and what the requirements for our ancestors to cross over to the living world are on this night.
Not only was this aspect crucial to the film, but the Pixar team managed to capture real phrases that Mexicans say and even slang words that I use with my family and friends in Mexico such as “no manches!” “que padre!” and “ay Dios mio!” I had no idea what to expect walking into the theater and sitting in my seat. In fact, I was getting ready to disagree with some bits and parts of the movie, almost skeptical of what the creators would think Mexican culture is like.
To my surprise, the film had no connection whatsoever to white, American culture and was solely centered on Mexico. The small details such as the mariachis, food offered and eaten by background characters, markets, and even each building in the movie, are all what make this film so close to home.
During the entire movie, I had a longing to go back to my country and hug mi abuelita and mi familia. Every single character in this film had very Latino physical characteristics that even shook me a bit, because I felt like I have seen these characters in real life while walking down the streets of Mexico.
The artwork in this film was absolutely phenomenal and managed to include crafts and ornaments that are used in the streets and homes of Mexico. Before the beginning of the film, three members from Pixar introduced the movie and talked about how almost every scene took hundreds of hours to design and put together. One scene even had numerous building layers, each intricately designed one by one in order to form the big picture.
I was curious to see how the Pixar team managed to pull this off and found out, to my surprise, that the director and crew spent six years traveling Mexico in order to represent the country in the most authentic way possible — which really did show. “Alcaraz says he and the other consultants accomplished their mission: Keep ‘Coco’ from being whitewashed,” NPR stated in its review of the film. I agree with this for the most part.
With all this being said, here are a handful of reasons why you should go see “Coco:”
For one thing, the cast is Latino through and through — with Anthony Gonzalez voicing the protagonist, Miguel. Second, “Coco” offers a true, authentic representation of Mexican culture, folklore and of the holiday Dia de los Muertos. In the same vein, the dialogue uses accurate Mexican Spanish slang terms and phrases. The visuals presented traditional Mexican clothing, makeup and hair styles that are all accurate representations of the culture.
As if their research wasn’t thorough enough, markets, homes and streets depicted almost exactly mirror those in Mexico. In addition, every name given to a character is a Latino name. Even the main themes and morals that the film evokes resonate with those that the majority of Mexicans hold dearly.
Among the impressive visuals and breathtaking animation were beautiful Mexican decorations and crafts. Even the color palette of the film itself seemed to reflect Mexican culture. And the soundtrack was packed with traditional Mexican songs.
Overall, the film was absolutely beautiful and the numerous themes that guided the movie were fantastic. After seeing “Coco,” I can easily say that it made me very proud to be Mexican. Most importantly, it’s comforting to know that all adults, teenagers and kids who see this amazing film are finally getting a positive, accurate and respectful representation of Mexico.With the unfortunate outcome of the election and the false mentality on Mexico and my people, it is very hard to find content that portrays Mexico in a positive, joyful and loving way. This film is the first step in really moving forward with cultural appreciation and interpretation that can be understood in the masses.
A big kudos to the team of Pixar for showing that death should be celebrated as a passing to a better, brighter world. From the abuelita smacking people with her chancla to the Grito Mexicano echoing before the start of a traditional song, I can safely say that “Coco” is Mexico’s new favorite Pixar film.