Miguel and His Journey to the Land of the Dead

Are you in search of quality movies currently playing in theaters? Are you seeking fun, animated films that will make you cry from laughing so hard to the point where your face turns a certain shade of red and you can’t even see clearly for a couple seconds? Are you looking for a motion picture that will teach you more about culture and provide a deep, resonating message to stick with you throughout the rest of your day? Are you ready to tear up from a couple of sorrowful moments? If you answered yes to any of these questions, then you should round up your family or friends and go see the movie titled Coco.

Coco is the story of a twelve year old boy named Miguel Rivera who is celebrating Día de los Muertos, or Day of the Dead, with his extended family in Mexico. Miguel first describes how his family and all the generations before lead to where they are now: a shoemaking company. The business began when his great great grandfather left his wife and young daughter to pursue a career in traveling the world with his music. His great great grandmother then had to make a living, and she chose shoemaking. She also declared that their family would not have anything to do with music for all generations to come since it is what tore their family apart, yet, Miguel still witnesses music every day on the streets of Mexico and is mesmerized by the somewhat magical qualities it possesses in bringing people together.

Just as almost every Disney or Dreamworks movie begins with (*sighs*), Miguel is created as a character who is different from the rest. In Frozen, Elsa was born with ice powers she had to learn to control when no one else she knew had powers, and Shrek wasn’t like any of the other happy animals or people in the kingdom, Duloc, ruled by Lord Farquaad. Just like these characters, Miguel has a fatal flaw because he wants to sing and play his guitar for a living like his idol, Ernesto de la Cruz, instead of a becoming a boring old shoemaker like the rest of his family.

However, music is forbidden, and his family takes strict measures to ensure that no music surrounds them. Secretly, Miguel practices the guitar and learns about the guitar playing god, Ernesto de la Cruz. Once he sees a flyer for a music competition on Día de los Muertos, he immediately wants to join but is discouraged by his entire family. Later on, he meets his family members who have passed on and slowly learns the truth about what really did happen all those years ago and why music was banished. On his journey to find another family member, Miguel meets new friends, escapes death, seizes the moment, and sheds tears of joy and sadness.

I loved the soundtrack and all of the animations in this movie. Each character had defining qualities and a unique look. Their non-frightening skeletons and bone features perfectly matched their personalities which I enjoyed because it made sense to me. The skeletons themselves actually appeared as real bones and in the correct anatomy. Many of these characters also sung songs that weren’t just baseline; they had real feelings. One of the incredibly deep songs was “Remember me”, sung by Héctor. The lyrics ,“Remember me, though I have to say goodbye / Remember me, don’t let it make you cry / For even if I’m far away, I hold you in my heart / I sing a secret song to you, each night we are apart” make me feel the real hardships that some of the characters faced throughout the movie. The emotions experienced by the characters with their singing and playing the guitar was heartfelt. Many of these musical productions also tested my knowledge of the Spanish language and I was surprised I understood most of the words and phrases after completing Spanish II.

Generally, I love any movies that make me laugh and almost tear up a bit, and I would put Coco right up there with The Incredibles and Mulan because of this. One aspect I liked was that the movie continually stressed the importance of family. Family is what matters in life because they are the people who will always love you, care for you, and support you. This message of family really stayed with me for the next several hours after I watched it and made me remember, especially during the holiday season, that gifts and delicious food are delightful, but family is what actually matters.

There was one aspect of the movie that bothered me: the stereotypes. While the characters have their own self-defining qualities, so many parts of the film are oversimplified to a point that they almost compromised the integrity of the movie. These stereotypes include the elderly grandparents being overweight and waddling around like penguins, a homeless skeleton wearing only ragged and ripped clothing, and the older skeleton women having really huge, poofy hair. I feel as if these stereotypes just make the film slightly derogatory and less meaningful.

Overall, I would say that this film is definitely a family or kid’s movie, however, I ended up really enjoying the animation and the message of family which teaches everyone, but kids specifically, that family is always the most important. I give this movie an eight out of ten star rating for it’s beautiful design, distinctive characters, and themes of people. The last two starts aren’t there for the lack of original beginning and cliché parts of the movie.  As for one of my favorite quotes from the words of Miguel, “That is what families are supposed to do, support you.”

Trailer: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xlnPHQ3TLX8


By Jordan Brunk

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