A good holiday movie about family

Published 11:13 am Thursday, November 30, 2017

I don’t make a habit of watching children’s movies, but I catch some on occasion when they seem to have good reviews and look potentially interesting. I like to study stories for all ages to see what catches an audience’s attention, what themes are explored, and how the story is presented. I’m not very good at just sitting down to watch something without thinking much about it.

So that’s why I ended up watching Pixar’s latest film, “Coco,” recently.

The story follows a young Mexican boy named Miguel Rivera who has dreams of becoming a musician. The only problem is that the Rivera family hates music because Miguel’s great-great grandfather abandoned the family to pursue a musical career and never returned home. The movie’s plot gets underway during Mexico’s Day of the Dead holiday when Miguel accidentally gets sent to the land of the dead, populated by a host of colorful skeletons. While there, Miguel goes in search of his missing great-great grandfather in order to get his blessing to return home and pursue his musical aspirations.

The thing that Pixar usually does well is how it manages to bring to life storylines which are complex and layered. At the core of this film is a message about family. There’s an emphasis on the importance of passing down the memories of loved ones no longer with us. In addition, the story places a subtle focus on supporting your family and helping each other out. The themes of the movie contain something which everyone can relate to, children and adults alike.

But it wasn’t just the movie’s plot I was impressed with. The world (both of the living and the dead) created by the animators was amazing as well. The people behind the movie spent a great deal of time portraying Mexico and its most famous holiday in an accurate and respectful manner. If you aren’t familiar with the traditions of the Day of the Dead, you certainly will walk away from the movie having learned something afterwards.

And once Miguel gets to the land of the dead, things get even more visually exciting. That world is full of vibrant colors and vibrant characters. Frida Kahlo is a particularly exciting minor character, though children aren’t going to understand the fun of her cameo at all. Everything about the land of the dead is fleshed out (pun intended) with a multitude of details to make Miguel’s journey feel more real to the audience watching.

Since music is, of course, central to the main character, it’s also very prominent within the film. I really enjoyed how some of the songs were a mix of Spanish and English, or sometimes completely in Spanish. “Un poco loco” (translation: “a little crazy”) was probably my favorite song of the whole movie though it appeared only briefly. You don’t need to understand the Spanish words to enjoy Miguel’s upbeat performance of it.

Honestly, I thoroughly enjoyed the movie even though it made me cry a bit. It’s nice to see stories geared towards children branch out and add some more diversity to what they’re offering, to teach them different languages, different cultures, and different traditions.

The world is bigger than just what we see from our doorstep. There are billions of people out there who live different everyday lives than we do, but in the end, we all have the common bonds of family and honoring those who’ve passed on before us. That’s something we should continue to remember every day.

Like I said before, I don’t make a habit of watching children’s movies, but when I do, I’m glad to see ones like “Coco” tell interesting, meaningful stories which people of all ages can enjoy.


Holly Taylor is a Staff Writer for Roanoke-Chowan Publications. Contact her at holly.taylor@r-cnews.com or by phone at 252-332-7206.