The artists who put together the imagery for Disney-Pixar’s amazing new film, “Coco,” deserve top billing above any of the stars who provided their voice talents. I mean it. Watching the film is a breathtaking experience, even taking note of the brief mention at the beginning from directors who explain a little about how a certain background element was created that involved thousands of tiny individually animated components.
Of course, there are stars behind the characters on-screen. These include Anthony González as 12-year-old Miguel Rivera, Gael García Bernal as Héctor, Benjamin Bratt as Ernesto de la Cruz, Gabriel Iglesias as a clerk, and Edward James Olmos as Chicharrón. Together they bring to life (pun intended) a story that illustrates how the thin veil between the living and the dead can be crossed on Dia de Muertos (as pronounced in the film).
As a statement that illustrates a cultural mainstay among the Latino community, Disney-Pixar hit the nail on the head. This film marks the first time a major studio has spent some serious time and money getting something as close to right as they can with regard to this enormous and influential portion of the American people. And they did it by tapping into the heart of la gente, focusing on la familia.
The story is well-crafted, as one would expect of a large project spanning several years and multitudes of artists and technicians, but it is fairly typical for the Mouse House. There’s a protagonist, usually a kid, whose born-to talent is oppressed by a misunderstanding or stubborn parents who don’t get them. Something happens that enables the kid to learn some rather uncomfortable truths about the big wide world, and which also brings his family together when they learn some hard realities themselves.
In this case, young Miguel is a closet mariachi, literally. He cannot reveal his burning desire to express himself musically because his elders, specifically his Mamá Imelda (Alanna Ubach), has strictly forbidden any tunes in the house, nothing, not even a hum. This ban goes way back to something that happened to an elder, wherein a man with a guitar broke her heart.
In the meantime, Miguel’s obsession is focused on the world famous celebrity Ernesto de la Cruz, who, long after his death has remained a legend in his village. All of this culminates in the Mexican tradition of Day of the Dead, in which deceased family and friends are remembered by mementos and photos reverently placed on household and community ofrendas (altars). In a twist of fate, Miguel finds himself accidentally crossed over into the Land of the Dead with a funny little stray dog, Dante.
There, he discovers the only way he can return is to be blessed by a family member over there or someone who may be a family member but doesn’t know it.
Thus begins a quest for the boy that takes him through amazing sights and startling revelations. For the audience, it’s the kind of film experience that doesn’t come along very often, even if the Spanglish gets a tiny bit annoying at times.
‘Coco’ is rated PG for thematic elements.
It is screening daily at Mitchell Storyteller Theatres, 110 Old Talpa Cañón Road. For show times, tickets and additional information, call (575) 751-4245 or visit storyteller7.com.
Also showing in Taos
The following was edited from press materials
MPAA rating: Not rated
Movies at the TCA
Director Kelly Noonan’s documentary, “Heal,” takes us on a scientific and spiritual journey where we discover that our thoughts, beliefs, and emotions have a huge impact on our health and ability to heal.
The latest science, according to the film’s press materials, reveals that we are not victims of unchangeable genes, nor should we buy into a scary prognosis. The fact is we have more control over our health and life than we have been taught to believe.
This film will empower you with a new understanding of the miraculous nature of the human body and the extraordinary healer within us all. “Heal” not only taps into the brilliant mind’s of leading scientists and spiritual teachers, but follows three people on actual high stakes healing journeys. Healing can be extremely complex and deeply personal, but it can also happen spontaneously in a moment. Through these inspiring and emotional stories we find out what works, what doesn’t, and why.
Featured interviews include Dr. Deepak Chopra, Anita Moorjani, Marianne Williamson, Dr. Michael Beckwith, Dr. Bruce Lipton, Dr. Joe Dispenza, Anthony Williams ‘ Medical Medium,’ Dr. Bernie Siegel, Gregg Braden, Dr. Joan Borysenko, Dr. David Hamilton, Dr. Kelly Brogan, Rob Wergin, Dr. Kelly Turner, Peter Chrone, Dr. Darren Weissman, and Dr. Jeffrey Thompson.
This film will be screened at 2 p.m. Sunday (Dec. 3), and at 7 p.m. Monday through Wednesday (Dec. 4-6).
Movies at the TCA film series, Taos Community Auditorium, 145 Paseo del Pueblo Norte. For tickets and additional information, call the Taos Center for the Arts at (575) 758-2052 or visit tcataos.org.