Miguel, I give you my blessing, to go home and…never play music again. [Mamá Imelda looks at Héctor and smiles]…And never forget how much your family cares for you.
I’m going to start with just letting out my true feelings, I don’t like the movie Coco (2017).
I know, I know so many love it, but I don’t. It all started back in 2013, when Disney wanted to make a Dia de Los Muertos film and tried to copyright the name.
Yep, they wanted to trademark both “Día de los Muertos” and “Day of the Dead,” as they wanted to own it so they would control “such themed merchandise as fruit preserves, fruit-based snacks, toys, games, clothing, footwear, backpacks, clocks and jewelry.” They apologized saying it was an “oversight” and a “misunderstanding”.
Yeah right, I don’t believe it for one second. There is no way they would have ever tried that with Christmas, in my opinion they were just trying to pull a fast one and found themselves called out by the Latino community. Being Latina myself, I was extremely offended at this and while it has died down I still haven’t forgiven the heads of Disney who attempted that.
In 2014, an adorable film come out called The Book of Life, that I adored as it had a cute story, wonderful animation, and incorporated different Latin American folklore and culture; (although it did summarize it and make changes so it was more palatable to American audiences that ranged from those who know the history of Dia de Los Muertos and those who have zero knowledge or assume it is Mexican Halloween).
The story of The Book of Life is that La Muerte/La Catrina is the ruler of the Land of the Remembered and her husband Xibalba is the ruler of the Land of the Forgotten. The film’s premise is that as long as the dead are remembered by the people who live on Earth they will stay in the “Land of the Remembered” and if there is nobody alive to remember them they will go to the “Land of the Forgotten”; a terrible place no one wants to go. Not surprisingly, Xibalba does not like living there and he and La Muerte make a deal; there is a love triangle between Joaquin, Manolo, and Maria and whoever’s chosen victor wins Maria’s heart will also win the Land of the Remembered. La Muerte supports Manolo and Xibalba supports Joaquin. Fast forward to when they are adults and Joaquin has become a war hero, while Manolo wants to be a musician, something his father doesn’t approve of as he comes from a long line of bullfighters. The two try to woo Maria and Manolo is the clear winner. This upsets Xilbalbe and he tricks Manolo into killing himself to save Maria (who wasn’t really dead) sending him to the afterlife, winning the bet. Manolo reunits with his family, eventually baring his soul with his father and getting the family blessing to be a musician, outwits Xilbalbe, and defeats the terrible bandit while reuniting with Maria. I loved it.
When Coco came out three years later I wasn’t interested. I know “they said” they were sorry for their “blunder” and sent a team to Mexico to study Mexican culture in order to make a better film, I was still very hesitant that they would follow through. Eventually I did watch it as my niece wanted to see it and after watching Coco, I did not like it.
First of all the storyline was nothing new for an “original film” as I felt they copied The Book of Life. There were too many similarities for it to be accidental: like the being remembered you have a fun party in the afterlife while if you are forgotten you are gone forever, the way they made the afterlife a big party (extremely similar), the whole central theme about the youngest family member wanting to pursue music opposed to the family business (BOL bullfighting while C cobbling), the meeting the family in the afterlife and mending fences, not supposed to be dead an in the afterlife, etc.
And they combined all those components with Up, as it was the same story of our main character idolizing a person only to meet them and discover that he was actually a terrible person.
The other thing that really annoyed me was the “music is evil” plot with Miguel’s great-great grandma and grandma banning it from all family members. Music is such a huge part of Latino culture, that the way Miguel’s family barred it like a Latino Footloose town was odd and in my mind impossible. Its such a strong part of the Latino identity. I felt this story point was better done in The Book of Life, as the family wasn’t opposed to any music, but just did not want to break family tradition.
To me this just felt like Disney was not really giving it their all but just trying their best to make money off the holiday and Latino culture.
The only thing that I felt was actually well done with the film was the music. I like that they used traditional songs and actual mariachi songs. While I don’t care for the film, I am always down to listen to the soundtrack.
I know I am probably the only dissenter to this film, but I won’t apologize for how I feel. That’s what I think of it. If you enjoyed it that’s great.
For more on Dia de Los Muertos, go to Feliz Día de Muertos: Celebrando con Mi Ofrenda de Jane Austen
For more animated films, go to Zombie Pirates and Werecats: Scooby-Doo on Zombie Island (1998)
For more Disney reviews, go to Mysteries & Meddling Kids: Austin & Ally (2015)