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Coco

Movie review by
Sandie Angulo Chen, Common Sense Media
Coco Movie Poster Image
Stunningly animated, poignant tribute to family and culture.
  • PG
  • 2017
  • 109 minutes
 Parents recommendPopular with kids

Parents say

age 7+
Based on 112 reviews

Kids say

age 7+
Based on 86 reviews

We think this movie stands out for:

A lot or a little?

The parents' guide to what's in this movie.

Educational Value

Viewers will learn about some of the cultural traditions (and creatures) surrounding Día De Los Muertos/Day of the Dead and what it's like to live in a Mexican family dedicated to a craft (in this case, shoemaking). Kids may also learn a bit about Mexican music styles.

Positive Messages

Many positive messages: Remember that your family loves and wants the best of and for you. Love and accept who you are, and try to persevere and follow your dreams. Running away doesn't solve anything. Teamwork and asking for help are important. Gifts and talents shouldn't be ignored or suppressed; you shouldn't have to choose between your family and doing what you love. Unconditional love is powerful. It's never too late to forgive someone. Be grateful for what you have.

Positive Role Models & Representations

Miguel is talented, gifted, and enthusiastic. He makes some impulsive, risky, iffy decisions (from stealing de la Cruz's guitar to running away from those who want to help him), but he ultimately recognizes the value of his family. Mama Imelda and Abuelita are very strict but also loving and affectionate; it takes time, but they eventually listen to what Miguel is trying to tell them. Hector is a trickster, but he ultimately wants to redeem himself in his family's eyes.

Violence & Scariness

For those who aren't familiar with Day of the Dead traditions (skeletons, makeup to look like skeletons, beheaded/limbless skeletons, etc.), there's potentially frightening imagery throughout the movie. Some violent moments played for humor, like scenes in which a character is crushed by a large bell. Skeletons come apart frequently. A character falls from a great height. Another is shown succumbing to poison. Characters are chased/pursued; some tension/peril as a result. Sad moment when a Land of the Dead figure dissolves into dust; later, another popular character appears to fade, which could upset kids. Tear-jerking climactic sequence. Pepita, a large spirit guide animal, is like a huge flying griffin/panther, and she can be intimidating (growling, pouncing, etc.). Arguing; grown-ups yell at a kid.

Sexy Stuff

Discussion of Mama Imelda and her husband's love story. A married couple embraces. Kissing/romance in a movie-within-the-movie. A "nude" skeleton poses for an artist (played for humor).

Language

Infrequent use of words including "stupid," "dumb," "jerks," "hate," and "bum."

Consumerism

Nothing in the film itself, but Disney/Pixar films always have plenty of merchandise tie-ins, from apparel to games to toys.

Drinking, Drugs & Smoking

Adult characters drink in a couple of scenes: a shot in one scene and drinks at a party.

What parents need to know

Parents need to know that Coco is a vibrant Disney/Pixar film that explores the traditions of the Day of the Dead, a child's desire to become a musician despite his family's wishes, and the power of unconditional love. Told from the point of view of Miguel (voiced by Anthony Gonzalez), a young boy who ends up in the Land of the Dead, the movie -- which features an all-star Latino voice cast (including Gael García Bernal and Benjamin Bratt), as well as a Latino co-director and many Latino crew members -- is a tribute to Mexican traditions and customs. The Land of the Dead contains some potentially disturbing imagery, but most kids will probably get used to all of the skeletons quickly. A few moments of life-or-death peril are fraught with tension, but none of the major characters die (at least, who aren't already dead). There's also some drinking by adult characters (a shot, cocktails at a party) and a few uses of words like "stupid." While all is well in the end, the movie can be dark and sad (as with most Pixar films, it's likely some viewers will cry), especially for those who've lost beloved relatives. But it also has powerful themes of perseverance, teamwork, and gratitude and encourages audiences to love and appreciate their family and always follow their dreams.

User Reviews

  • Parents say
  • Kids say
Parent of a 6 year old Written byWendy M. November 25, 2017

excellent film, just not for my 6-year old

We went as a family to see Coco in the theater, and unfortunately had to leave after half an hour. A few things to know: 1. the movie previews (AMC theater) we... Continue reading
Parent of a 6 and 8 year old Written byNaomi R. November 27, 2017

Scary for Sensitive Kids

My 8 year old daughter was sobbing when the movie ended and kept saying how scary it was. If your kid usually gets undertones in film or books beyond her age l... Continue reading
Teen, 17 years old Written byUsrthea November 26, 2017

Very good and NOT a ripoff of the book of life.

Coco is unfortunately the last original (non-sequel) Pixar film of the decade and it’s the only movie I’ve really been looking forward to seeing all year so I h... Continue reading
Teen, 13 years old Written bySpeckledhyena November 25, 2017

Brilliant

I saw this movie earlier today. I've heard multiple good things about this movie - and those good things were right! It was funny, sad, and beautiful. The... Continue reading

What's the story?

COCO follows Miguel (voiced by Anthony Gonzalez), a young Mexican boy born into a family of zapateros (shoemakers). For generations, the family has imposed a ban on playing or listening to music because, decades earlier, Miguel's great-great-grandfather left his great-great-grandmother Imelda and their young daughter, Coco, to become a musician. But Miguel secretly plays the guitar and yearns to become a famous musician like his idol, Ernesto de la Cruz (Benjamin Bratt), the long-dead singer/actor from Miguel's hometown. On the Day of the Dead, Miguel fights with his family, steals de la Cruz's guitar from a crypt, and somehow gets transported to the Land of the Dead. There, Miguel meets up with his deceased relatives and learns he can only return to the world of the living with a dead ancestor's blessing. Because Mama Imelda (Alanna Ubach) inserts a no-music clause into her blessing, Miguel flees her and the rest of his skeletal relatives in search of de la Cruz, whom he believes to be his great-great-grandfather. Instead, Miguel teams up with Hector (Gael García Bernal), a scheming skeleton who claims to know de la Cruz, on his journey to find the dead idol and earn his blessing, musician to musician.

Is it any good?

Colorful, beautifully animated, and culturally sensitive, Coco is an affecting, multilayered coming-of-age drama. Miguel just wants to make music, even though it's forbidden to him because his family believes that music cursed them. Gonzalez, a tween who performs Mariachi music, is an ideal pick to voice the movie's main character. He may not be a household name yet, but after his movie-carrying performance, it's clear the 12-year-old is, like his animated alter ego, a talented performer. Featuring "Remember Me," an original song from Robert Lopez and Kristen Anderson-Lopez (the husband-and-wife team behind the Frozen soundtrack), and other songs written and produced by a team of Mexican songwriters and consultants, Coco boasts an authentic soundtrack and a memorable score by award-winning composer Michael Giacchino.

The voice cast is nearly all Latino (and most actually are Mexican), with internationally renowned Mexican-American actor Edward James Olmos and comedians Cheech Marin and Gabriel Iglesias voicing supporting characters. Bratt (who's half Peruvian) has just the right timbre of gravitas to play de la Cruz, a famous and vainglorious musician who died at the peak of his career. As for the titular character, she's Miguel's wheelchair-bound great-grandmother (Ana Ofelia Murguía), and her scenes with Miguel will bring a tear to even the most jaded viewer's eyes. The movie will be especially moving for anyone who's had to separate from their family, whether because of death or another reason (including immigration complications or difficult situations back home). But of all the movie's relationships, it's really Miguel's with Hector that's the most nuanced and fascinating. Bernal's Hector is so much more than he seems, and whether he's pretending to be Frida Kahlo (the ghost of Kahlo herself also makes an appearance), playing the guitar, or pleading his case to be remembered, he's the film's second hero. Like the best Pixar movies, Coco is ultimately a story about the power of relationships and why familia is so important.

Talk to your kids about ...

  • Families can talk about the popularity of stories about young characters who must go on a dangerous journey to find out about themselves. What does Miguel learn in Coco? How do his experiences in the Land of the Dead help him grow?

  • Talk about the movie's theme of family duty vs. personal ambition. Which characters in Coco are role models, and which character strengths do they demonstrate?

  • Did you think any parts of the movie were scary? How much scary stuff can young kids handle? Who do you think is the ideal audience for this movie? Why?

  • Did you already know about the Day of the Dead? If not, what did you learn about the holiday? How does your family pay tribute to relatives and loved ones after they've passed away? Which other Mexican traditions and values does the movie promote? Which holidays, music, and other cultural traditions do you celebrate with your family?

  • Did you notice that characters speak both English and Spanish in the movie? Would you like to learn a second language? For bilingual families: Why do you think it's important or useful to speak two languages? How does language connect you with your heritage -- and your family?

Movie details

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