Tag Archives: Coco

What Mexican and American critics are saying about Disney/Pixar’s groundbreaking film “Coco”

Coco has premiered to great fanfare at the Morelia International Film Festival in Mexico, and so far, the buzz is positive! Hearing about good buzz is different than actually reading it, so here are seven reviews from both American and Mexican critics, all of which have something positive to say about the film that finally breaks through Pixar’s color and non-Western cultural barrier.

“A walk among the Mexicans”

The general impression is one of admiration and even respect [;].although it does not give us one of the biggest Pixar movies, at least it gives the world the possibility of dreaming of a walk among the Mexicans.—Alonso Díaz de la Vega, El Universal [translation]

Disney/Pixar

Coco [points] toward a less-homogenized…future”

“There’s no getting around that Disney/Pixar hope “Coco” absolves them of past ethnic-representation sins in forging popular movie fare. But the honest feeling coursing through “Coco” is its own marigold bridge in a way, pointing toward a less-homogenized, but no less universal-in-theme future for creators of animated movies.”–Robert Abele, The Wrap

Disney/Pixar

“[Coco speaks] of a real knowledge of the world that it wants to portray.”

“[T]here is a series of data, winks, images, phrases and faces that speak of a real knowledge of the world that it wants to portray, fruit undoubtedly of a deep investigation and without hurries. Coco gets it not without stumbling, but with a kindness that will leave you open-mouthed more than once.”–Erick Estrada, CineGarage [translation]

Disney/Pixar

“[Coco is] free of the watering down or whitewashing [in] Americanized appropriations.”

“Delivering a universal message about family bonds while adhering to folkloric traditions free of the watering down or whitewashing that have often typified Americanized appropriations of cultural heritage, the gorgeous production also boasts vibrant visuals and a peerless voice cast populated almost entirely by Mexican and Latino actors.”–Michael Rechtshaffen, The Hollywood Reporter

Disney/Pixar

“Unkrich and his team [demonstrate] an essential understanding of the Mexican tradition.”

“Unkrich and his team avoid reductionism by demonstrating an essential understanding of the Mexican tradition through a respectful and caring approach, and seeking the opportune moment to pay tribute to iconic Mexican cultural icons such as El Santo, Frida Kahlo, Cantinflas, Pedro Infante and, Of course, José Guadalupe Posada, whose engravings immortalized the figure of La Catrina. Although the film abuses the somewhat naive and childish physical gags – almost all linked to the ease with which the dead manipulate or lose their own bones – Coco is a film about the celebration of the family, the importance of memories and the connection through the generations[.]–Luis Fernando Galván, En Filme [translation, links added]

Disney/Pixar

“Unkrich…embraces and incorporates the customs and folklore of Día de Muertos into the very fabric of the film.”

“For Mexican audiences — or those who live in California, Texas, or any place with a visible Latino presence — the cultural iconography of the Land of the Dead ought to look quite familiar, as Unkrich (who previously oversaw “Toy Story 3”) embraces and incorporates the customs and folklore of Día de Muertos into the very fabric of the film.”–Peter Debruge, Variety

Disney/Pixar

“The most risky Pixar film and, therefore, the most fruitful.”

“One thing is for sure: the creators of Coco did the homework.The various research trips they made to the country are evident in what could be the most risky Pixar film and, therefore, the most fruitful and even hopeful[.]”–Jessica Oliva, Cine Premiere [translation]

Coco comes to theaters Nov. 22.

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¡Órale! “The Book of Life” is getting a sequel!

20th Century Fox

When I saw The Book of Life in theaters a couple of years ago, I had hoped it would get enough traction and fanbase to garner a sequel. The characters and animation were charming, as was the story, so I’m glad to know that we’re getting a new Book of Life film!

The news came during this year’s Annecy International Animation Film Festival. According to Remezcla via Variety, The Book of Life creator and director Jorge Gutiérrez will return to helm the sequel. I presume the same voice actors, including Diego Luna, Zoe Saldana, Channing Tatum, Kate del Castillo, and Ron Perlman, will be back as well (no confirmation yet).
Gutiérrez had teased a sequel last year, and has since retweeted that old tweet, which features a very different, angrier-looking Xibalba and a different, Aztec-inspired goddess. Also, Manolo, Maria and Joaquín are all dead, fighting against something or someone. In short, it seems like a much darker–yet just as fun–chapter in the Book of Life saga. Will the sequel follow the narrative the early concept art shows us? I hope so–I really want to know what the story is that inspired this art, especially that goddess.

But I hope that La Muerte is still a part of the mix; her character design is still one of the most inspired designs I’ve seen in a while, especially now that we’re in the age of homogenous Pixar or Pixar-influenced art. Let’s be real–mainstream 3D films are all starting to look exactly the same. The Book of Life jazzed things up a whole lot, not just where diversity and representation are concerned (because 3D animated films are still white-centric). The playfulness and imaginative quality that The Book of Life art has is something that has been lacking in 3D animated films, and it’s definitely something Pixar has increasingly lost since it lost its arthouse sensibilities after becoming a full-blown part of Disney.

I digress, but I’ll also use this as a segue to discuss The Book of Life‘s “competition,” as it were–Pixar’s Coco. I’ve already written about how some aren’t feeling Coco and it’s similar The Book of Life look. But Gutiérrez doesn’t view them as competition and, in fact, welcomes more films that are taking on this topic. And, in Pixar’s defense, it looks like Pixar isn’t taking the typically Disney easy way out when it comes to telling this story, i.e. creating a sanitized, whitewashed version of Mexican culture. Aside from screenwriter and Pixar animator Adrian Molina co-directing the film with Lee Unkrich, Pixar has hired some of its biggest critics as a think-tank to keep the film culturally sound. (However, the think-tank idea only seems to be after Disney’s 2013 trademark debacle when they tried to secure the phrase “Día de los Muertos,” which resulted in a PR nightmare. An artist who came out against them, Lalo Alcaraz, was asked by Pixar to be a part of the think-tank, and I hope they heed what he and the rest of the experts have to say. You can read more about this at Vanity Fair.)

To get back on topic, I’m really excited to see what The Book of Life has in store for us the second go-round. What do you think about this news? Give your opinions below!

Disney/Pixar’s “Coco” trailer is here, and some are already comparing it to “The Book of Life”?

Disney/Pixar

Disney/Pixar’s Coco is a film many of us have been waiting on for a while, and the trailer is finally out! Check it out for yourself.

Now that you’ve seen the trailer, let’s get into some discussion. First, this film is making Disney/Pixar history as being the first film the joint companies have made about Mexican culture. But while the trailer looks magical, as all Disney trailers tend to do, some potential audience members are calling foul on some aspects, particularly the fact that the film is yet another piece of media centralizing Mexican culture around Dia de los Muertos.

Dia de los Muertos is probably one of the most gentrified, appropriated holidays in recent memory, with too many Americans wrongly assuming the holiday is “Mexican Halloween.” There are way too many folks appropriating the sugar skull look just for aesthetic reasons.

There’s another reason some folks are already irritated with Coco; there are some shots that look very similar to  Jorge R. Gutiérrez’s The Book of Life. For instance, there’s a skull woman in the trailer, kinda similar to La Muerte and Manolo’s dead twin relatives Ardelita and Scardelita Sanchez:

Disney/Pixar (screengrab)
Twentieth Century Fox Animation (screengrab)

And the city of the dead looks really similar.

Disney/Pixar (screengrab)
Twentieth Century Fox Animation (screengrab)

Of course, the stories are different, aside from the Dia de los Muertos aspect. But still, the similarities have been noticed by many who have watched the Coco trailer and have seen The Book of Life. However, there are plenty of fans who are psyched for the film, including Jorge R. Gutiérrez himself, who tweeted that he’s “looking forward to seeing the film!”

What do you think about Coco? Are you going to see it when it premieres November 22? Give your opinions in the comments section below!