Cast: (Voices) Gael García Bernal, Benjamin Bratt, Antony Gonzalez, Edward James Olmos, Cheech Marin, Gabriel Iglesias, Alanna Ubach
Directors: Lee Unkrich & Adrian Molina
The dead stay dead in the Christian faith which honours them in a special way on Nov 2, All Souls Day. And as in Judaism, any effort to commune with the departed is frowned upon. Disney’s latest animated film Coco will have none of that and takes viewers along with the principal character, a Mexican lad named Miguel (voiced by Antony Gonzalez) on an odyssey to the Land of the Dead.
Now, Mexico may be Christian, specifically, Catholic but Coco ignores that completely and, notwithstanding the stray presence of a cross/crucifix and the graveyard but of course, relies on ancient Mexican traditions about the afterlife. Which is not Purgatory at all where souls are purified, nor Heaven – see, paradise has no passports for skeletons. It is, however, as Miguel and we see, a vibrant place whose skeletal denizens are kept “alive” through remembrance.
And it is here that Miguel, eventually encounters his idol, Ernesto de la Cruz (Benjamin Bratt). Miguel wants to be a musician even as his zapateros (cobbler) family detests music after an ancestor abandoned wife and child for a musical career. The abandoned girl child is the titular Coco (Ana Ofelia Murguia), Miguel’s beloved great grandmother.
Before the crucial meeting with la Cruz, Miguel is chased by dead relatives and befriended by Hector Rivera (Gael Garcia Bernal) who pretends to be the famous Mexican-Jewish artist Frida Kahlo and tells him he will help him get the blessing he needs. There is also a delightful dog named Dante and a nameless dragon.
Helmer Unkrich and co-director Molina who shares the screenwriting honours with Matthew Aldrich, pack plot twists and poignant moments in this richly animated coming of age tale which stresses family relationships, endurance and friendship.