coco: a pixar movie with a powerful mexican plot

the newest pixar movie coco is a hit; here in mexico and globally.

coco movie poster
in mexico, coco has made more money than any other movie in history.

an article by paul chi on calls it “a real tearjerker” (it will make u cry–pronounce tear like here) and…

a celebration of mexican culture and history, built to tear down the walls that divide people.

tear down (pronounce tear like hair) means destroy, remove.

miguel playing the guitar

miguel doesn’t fit in with his family because they have held a grudge against musicians for generations.

peter debruge at says 

in terms of plot, “coco” boasts an upbeat, follow-your-dreams (ignore-your-parents) message not unlike “ratatouille,” where miguel’s obsession with becoming a famous musician — in a family that still holds grudges after his great-great-grandfather walked out on his wife and kids to pursue a similar goal — recalls that of remy, a sewer rat who overcame the odds to become a celebrated french chef. it also bears a strong visual resemblance to 2014’s “the book of life”.

plot is the story. boast is used to present a positive characteristic. upbeat is happy. hold a grudge means stay angry, resent. walk out on is frequently used to describe one person unilaterally ending a relationship by leaving. recall is similar to remember. sewer is the underground system that removes water and waste from the sinks and bathrooms in your house. overcome means beat, defeat. odds are probabilities. bear a resemblance means be similar to.

remy making omelettes in ratatoullie

miguel’s journey in coco bears a resemblance to remy’s journey in ratatouille.

debruge describes the appeal (attraction, charm) of hector, a skeleton who

falls apart whenever someone bumps into him, sometimes rearranging in completely silly new configurations.

fall apart means break into pieces, in this case the individual bones of a skeleton. whenever means any time. bump into means hit or collide with, usually accidentally. silly means not serious, crazy.


hector giving thumbs up

similarly, mara cirezaru on calls coco’s graphics stunning (splendid, tremendous), noting that the creators’ imaginations ran wild (had no restraints or limits) designing the land of the dead.

miguel and hector in coco

hector and miguel in the land of the dead

she explains that the plot

follows disney and pixar’s version of the hero’s journey to a t: a child protagonist, who doesn’t fit in with their family or community, runs off to follow their passion. along the way, they meet colorful characters that help or hinder them. ultimately, the protagonists learn more about themselves and become closer to their loved ones. it’s a formula that has stood the test of time.

hero’s journey is a common storytelling structure. for example, remy in ratatoullie and pinocchio go on journeys (long trips) similar to miguel’s. to a t means perfectly. doesn’t fit in means miguel is incompatible, different from his familyrun off means leave, go away. along the way means during the journey. hinder means obstruct, create problems for. stand the test of time means it has been effective for many years.

pinocchio smoking a cigar
pinocchio, released in 1940, is an example of how the hero’s journey model has stood the test of time.

additionally, cirezaru observes that disney and pixar respected mexico and the día de los muertos celebration by showing an

attention to detail that indicates that the studio spent time researching specific cultural traditions and norms

and that this attention to detail

keeps the movie from being cheesy or relying on cultural appropriation.

research is investigation or studying.   keep in this context is protect, preserve. cheesy is fakesuperficialrely on is like depend oncultural appropration is adopting elements of a foreign culture without totally understanding them.

coco logo

what did u think of coco?  was it cheesy? could pixar be accused of culturally appropriating mexico’s traditions? share your opinions under leave a reply


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