2017 Favorite: ‘Coco’

By Miriam Zoila Pu00e9rez Dec 22, 2017

From the gifs that cracked us up to the books that blew our minds, we Colorliners (is that a word?) are reflecting on the best 2017 had to offer. Today, gender and sexuality columnist Miriam Zoila Pérez reflects on their favorite movie of the year, "Coco."

I saw “Coco” Thanksgiving weekend and I’m still caught up in the wonder of it. Thankfully, I’m not alone. At press time, the box-office-topper has grossed over $130 million in U.S. sales. It’s also been an international hit, especially in Mexico where it broke sales records and China, where it was released in November.

 “Coco,” the first Disney/Pixar film to star a protagonist of color, tells the story Miguel, a 12-year-old aspiring musician who crosses over into the land of the dead. There, he searches for his estranged great-great-grandfather, who was also a musician.

The concept of “Coco” is based on Día de los Muertos (Day of the Dead), a holiday in Mexico and other Central American countries. Día de los Muertos is about honoring your ancestors and ensuring that their memory lives on. Celebrants build elaborate altars and visit cemeteries to literally celebrate with their dead loved ones.

While the holiday is not part of my Cuban heritage, I could still appreciate the wonder of a movie so immersed in a Latinx context. Co-directors Lee Unkrich and Adrian Molina somehow managed to make the film universally accessible without watering down the traditions or centering outsiders. In fact, every character in "Coco" is Mexican. Plus the story takes place in the a fictional world based closely on Oaxaca, a heavily Indigenous state in Mexico.

Now "Coco" has faced some controversy along the way: The Walt Disney Company’s trademark request for “Día de los Muertos" sparked intense backlash from prominent Latino figures such as cartoonist Lalo Alcaraz. And the 20-minute "Frozen" short that screened before “Coco” until December 8 was so maligned that some media reported that it was axed due to terrible reviews. (Entertainment Weekly reports that Disney/Pixar had always planned to discontinue the short on December 8.)

Despite the missteps, Disney/Pixar managed to make a film really worthy of the acclaim it’s received, including two Golden Globes nominations. It’s visually stunning—more colorful and detailed than I thought possible. And I, personally, can’t wait to see the Spanish dubbed version, which has been lauded for adding an additional layer of authenticity to an already amazing movie. In a political climate like this one, with so much hostility toward immigrants, especially folks from Mexico, it’s a breath of fresh air to have such a respectful and joyful film to bask in.

More of Pérez’s favorites:

TV show: "The Good Place"
Album: "Fénix" by Nicky Jam
Song: "Mi Gente" by J Balvin and Willy William, feat. Beyoncé
Music video: "Havana" by Camila Cabello
Book: "Emergent Strategy," by adrienne maree brown
Podcast: "Nancy"
Hashtag: #MeToo
Creator: Justin Favela
Meme: The faces of Soraya Montenegro, in Spanish