Anika Goes to the Movies: Coco

Quick Review: 4/5 stars  My pickiest bambinos loved it. The three year old clapped repeatedly. I cried. It’s visually amazing, and though goofy (what kids flick isn’t) it’s never crude. Take the family, after the pie.


Here’s the deal, ever since I was about 5 my family has spent Thanksgiving doing some kind of activity because we lived far from the extended branches. So while the turkey cooked we would go hiking, to the zoo, and once a theater opened in proximity and Disney realized that the holidays are the time make bank on folks tired of their relatives- we’d go see a movie.

That’s right, my family is a bunch of Thanksgiving movie hipsters. We would be the only ones in the theater, maybe an older couple with nobody in town, and it was glorious. Now the box office grosses over 200million dollars each Thanksgiving weekend. And you have theater managers doing really dumb things like putting the first showing of the latest kids release in the smallest house- I’m looking at you Harkins.

But any non-movie gripes aside, Coco was our pick this year and it did not disappoint! I grew up in the desert southwest, so the trappings of Dia de los Muertos were ubiquitous to my childhood. I speak some pretty great Spanglish if I do say so myself. So when I saw the teasers for Coco I cringed inwardly. It is so easy to get the trappings of a cultural celebration right while getting the heart of it all wrong. And having rubbed up against Mexican traditions as a matter of course most of my life, I didn’t want to watch Disney ruin something so precious to so many.

But Pixar did the thing! Just Look at this cast! The voices, the story, the characters felt so familiar to me. Not in a boring, been-there-done-that sort of way, but in the resonant I-know-this-story kind of way that makes you fall immediately in love. I knew every one of those characters, but they weren’t caricatures. The strong Hispanic momma who ain’t got no time to be sad, the abuelita who is both absurdly demanding and adoring in the same sentence, the mariachi-both flashy and sincere, and Dante the dog. I’m pretty sure my husband and I met that dog on our honeymoon in Mexico 12 years ago.

The music was perfect. Totally perfect. It is a return to the solid musical production one expects from Disney and Pixar from whatever nonsensical departure they took for Moana.

Memory loss and what that does to our families is topic near to my heart just now, and I know it is for many others too. The message of the film in the end, that passing on the knowledge of who we are and where we come from is what family is for. That we show love and respect to ourselves and our living family when we bind each other together by listening to the memories of those that have gone before.

So this Thanksgiving as the pie digests, the visiting family starts fighting about the cost of road construction (or whatever gets your folks up in arms), and those Christmas boxes start creeping in from the garage take everyone to see Coco. Take tissues. And enjoy it with the millions of others who have taken up my family tradition.

Until next time, enjoy the show.


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