MENU

News
Category

Incredibles 2 – posters, sneak peaks, and a ‘special look’ coming on the 14th

Incredibles 2, Pixar, Poster

Posted by Joanna • February 11, 2018

“It’s been too long, dahlings.”

Incredibles 2 is set to release on June 15th, over thirteen and a half years after the original The Incredibles came to theatres in November of 2004. Now that a sequel is on the very conceivable horizon, excitement is really mounting, especially with the promise of new trailers, posters, and sneak peaks.

Brand new Incredibles 2 posters have been cropping up for the New York Fashion week, and it just wouldn’t be right if none of them featured the iconic Edna Mode.

The other poster features Bob Parr ironing out his super suit – ironic since it seems that the plot of the long-awaited sequel appears to see Helen experiencing most of the action whilst Bob is left at home with Jack-Jack (although no doubt this will be more action-packed than expected).

If you’ve been keeping up with the 2018 Winter Olympics, you may have been surprised to see some cameos of our favourite family of supers. You can watch some of their brief appearances below:

They’re also teasing a ‘special look’ that will be shown on Wednesday, February 14th during the coverage of the Winter Olympics. We’re keeping our fingers crossed that some brand new clips will be shown, along with some plot details. I have a feeling the Winter Olympics might notice a significant spike in viewer numbers…
If you’re not so keen on watching winter sports or aren’t able to watch the ‘special look’ as it airs live, then don’t worry – we’ll keep you updated!

A quick update: Pixar have released another Incredibles 2 poster.

Not your everyday laundry basket.

Michael Giacchino also tweeted a video of director Brad Bird and himself teasing some work on the score of Incredibles 2. Giacchino wrote the score for The Incredibles, in addition to many other Pixar movies (most recently Coco) – there’s no doubt that this new score will be just as punchy and affecting as the original. Brad Bird also appears to be wearing a t-shirt featuring Jack Jack exhibiting some of his many superpowers! You can watch the video below:

Final update: It’s the day before the ‘special look’ is due to air during the Winter Olympics, and Pixar have just released another teaser poster.

Read article

Coco takes center stage at the 2018 Annie Awards

Annie Awards, Awards, Cars 3, Coco, Pixar

Posted by Joanna • February 4, 2018

A huge congratulations is in order for all the talented Pixar employees who helped make Coco a reality – it took center stage at the Annie Awards ceremony last night by picking up 11 trophies!

Coco has been wowing audiences around the world since its release in Mexico last October – it has since picked up the Golden Globe for Best Animated Feature, and has been nominated for an impressive number of awards. The whole Coco crew had already done themselves proud by receiving 13 nominations at the 2018 Annie Awards, but going away with 11 wins (including Best Animated Feature) at the ceremony last night was truly well deserved. Here are all of Coco‘s winning categories:

Best Animated Feature
Outstanding Achievement for Animated Effects in an Animated Production
Outstanding Achievement for Character Animation in an Animated Feature Production
Outstanding Achievement for Character Design in an Animated Feature Production
Outstanding Achievement for Directing in an Animated Feature Production
Outstanding Achievement for Music in an Animated Feature Production
Outstanding Achievement for Production Design in an Animated Feature Production
Outstanding Achievement for Storyboarding in an Animated Feature Production
Outstanding Achievement for Voice Acting in an Animated Feature Production
Outstanding Achievement for Writing in an Animated Feature Production
Outstanding Achievement for Editorial in an Animated Feature Production

You can view the full breakdown on the Annie Awards site.

Amongst those accepting the trophy for Character Design was Daniela Strijleva (who created this incredible concept art for Héctor and his many disguises).

Anthony Gonzalez, at only 12 years old, won the Outstanding Achievement for Voice Acting award for voicing the charming, kind-hearted protagonist Miguel. Adrian Molina was amongst those credited for not only the writing award, but also the music and directing awards.

Cars 3 was also nominated for 2 awards (Best Animated Feature and Outstanding Achievement for Animated Effects in an Animated Production) but failed to pick up any trophies, with Coco really shaping up to be the stand-out Pixar movie of 2017 (or indeed the stand-out movie of 2017).

The next big awards ceremony will be The Academy Awards – exactly one month away (4th March 2018) – in which Coco has been nominated for Best Animated Feature and Best Original Song. We have a lot to say on the subject of the Oscars so stay tuned! As always, we’d love to hear your predictions.

Read article

Coco and the Importance of Death

Adrian Molina, Coco, in depth, Lee Unkrich, Opinion Piece

Posted by Nia • January 22, 2018

Pixar isn’t afraid to tackle death and loss in their films; it’s a prevalent theme in almost every story and even an obstacle that so many of their beloved characters need to tackle to move on and grow. Death is featured at the start of Finding Nemo, when Marlin discovers his wife and children have been brutally eaten by a barracuda. And it’s obviously there in Up, as we follow Carl and Ellie through their beautiful relationship when they meet as children, get married, and until the very end with Ellie dying due to old age. There’s even the loss of growing up and leaving your childhood behind in Toy Story 3 when Andy packs up his stuff for college and ends up leaving his beloved toys with Bonnie. Although Finding Nemo and Up have those themes featured at the beginning of the films, the entire story does not spend it’s time focusing on how that loss has affected the characters, what happens when those characters die, or how they’re supposed to deal with that empty gap in their lives. It’s simply a tool to move the characters from one spot to the other to fulfill the other story the studio wanted to tell at that time.

But with Coco, Pixar’s latest film, death takes the helm and leaves room to open up conversation about that often-taboo topic. The film would simply not exist if it weren’t for death and the Mexican holiday Day of the Dead.

Coco is an important film for not only acknowledging the Mexican culture faithfully by embracing their traditions to a tee, but by also being a place where families can come together to discuss something that is a part of everyone’s lives, no matter their age, race, or religion; and most importantly, a place where they can fondly look back and remember all the cherished memories of loved ones no longer with them.

When I was 9-years-old my grandmother passed away from Leukemia – that was the first time I had heard the word death, the first time I had seen the mourning and the blackness. I saw the tears before but I never put two and two together. Now there was a face to death, a person that I once knew who was no longer on this earth.

I understood that my grandmother was gone but not the severity of it all. One day after she passed, I had caught my mother sitting alone, watching old VHS tapes of my grandmother. She was sitting quietly in front of the TV crying. The VHS tapes were showcasing happier times of my grandmother laughing and dancing, full of health and beauty. At that age I thought nothing of it but continued to my room, where I most likely started playing with my toys or finished my homework.

There was never really a time for my parents to talk about death with me because my grandmother’s passing happened so suddenly. I was thrown into the topic and because of that, I feared the death of my friends and my family. I didn’t want anyone to die and I didn’t really understand where they went – even though in church, especially with my Greek Orthodox upbringing, I was told everlasting life existed in places like heaven.

I was lucky to have another set of grandparents who I spent my childhood with. My other grandmother didn’t pass away until 2016, and I’m still left with one surviving grandfather who is in his early nineties. Though because of my initial brush with death at 9, I feared for the day when my other grandparents would pass away. I would leave them silly letters around the house when I visited in the summer telling them that I would never forget them and I would always remember them. I didn’t want them to go anywhere, and I wanted to stay in that moment surrounded by them, forever.

I saw Coco with my family and like so many others, it brought me back to all the wonderful memories I had with all of my grandparents. Just like when Miguel’s family came together in the end to celebrate the life of their ancestors, even the ones they didn’t know in their lifetime, I came together with my own family to discuss friends and family from days gone by. After the film we talked about all the good times we had together and laughed away our tears. We most certainly remembered them and most importantly, we remembered all the great things about their lives and how they helped us become the people we are today.

It’s important for animated films like Coco to feature death so prominently in the story. Animated films are mostly targeted towards younger audiences, which makes it even more special for children to experience themes like death with their families earlier on and to figure out what it means to them in their own time. It opens up opportunities for children to ask questions about what happens when loved ones die and for parents not to shield their children from something that happens to all things in time. It’s also vital to speak to children about death and to embrace all the ugly emotions that come with it. With the fear and sadness comes the happiness and love when one is faced with the warm memories of those who have passed. It’s OK to cry, to get emotional, and to discuss this sensitive topic; luckily we have films like Coco to help open up that opportunity for all.

Read article

Toy Story 4 has found its writer!

Stephany Folsom, Toy Story 4

Posted by Simoa • January 19, 2018

It was unclear after Rashida Jones’ departure from Toy Story 4 who her replacement would be. But the film’s new writer has been revealed. Stephany Folsom will be penning the script. She previously worked on Thor: Ragnarok, but did not receive writing credit for the film. Trade publications also report that Folsom’s script, 1969: A Space Odyssey Or: How Kubrick Learned To Stop Worrying And Land On The Moon, in which Stanley Kubrick partners with NASA to fake the moon landing, appeared on the Black List. The list includes screenplays for non realized films, though many have been adapted for the screen.

Details on the upcoming installment of Toy Story remain scarce, barring what we have already learned. As Pixar first revealed a few years ago, Bo Peep will be returning, but that’s all we know.

Judging from Folsom’s Black List screenplay, she’ll definitely bring something wholly unique to Toy Story 4, which is due in theaters on June 21, 2019.

Read article

Coco picks up a BAFTA nomination

Awards, Coco, Pixar

Posted by Joanna • January 9, 2018

Coco is continuing its successful trend this awards season after picking up a British Academy Film Awards nomination for Best Animated Film. Its fellow nominees are Polish-British Loving Vincent, and Swiss-French My Life as a Courgette. It’s nice to see such a diverse selection of movies in this category. The three nominees perfectly demonstrate how varied and exciting the world of animation is, all exhibiting different themes, animation techniques, and nationalities.

The BAFTA awards ceremony will taken place on February 18th – just over a month away. We’ll have our fingers crossed for Pixar, but all the nominees would be very worthy winners. Do you have any predictions for the outcomes of the 2018 BAFTAs? Let us know down in the comments, or on Twitter! (@upcomingpixar)

Read article

John Lasseter has disappointed us – so where does Pixar go from here?

John Lasseter, Pixar

Posted by Joanna • December 21, 2017

Last month, John Lasseter joined a dizzyingly long list of powerful men in Hollywood to be accused of sexual misconduct. In a story first broken by The Hollywood Reporter on November 21st, allegations against Disney and Pixar’s chief creative officer were revealed. In a memo to staff, Lasseter announced that he would be taking a six month leave of absence from his role as creative overseer for the two animation studios, acknowledging “painful conversations” and“missteps.”

The three writers of Upcoming Pixar have each contributed to this post, in an attempt to process this deeply disturbing and unfortunate news.

 

Simoa

Simoa Barros, Lead Writer and Editor

My heart dropped when I first became aware of the news, but I was not surprised. I’ve never had first or even secondhand knowledge of John Lasseter’s alleged misconduct, but I dreaded this news anyway. Following the sexual harassment claims made against Loud House creator Chris Savino, who was subsequently fired, and the letter penned by women in the animation industry about the prevalence of sexual misconduct, I just expected more bombshell allegations. It is still shocking that Lasseter was directly involved.

It was first reported that Rashida Jones, who shared a writing credit on Toy Story 4, left the film with her writing partner Will McCormack due to an unwanted advance made by Lasseter, but she has denied this claim. Read her statement below:

“We did not leave Pixar because of unwanted advances. That is untrue. We parted ways because of creative and, more importantly, philosophical differences.

There is so much talent at Pixar, and we remain enormous fans of their films. However, it is also a culture where women and people of color do not have an equal creative voice.

We encourage Pixar to be leaders in bolstering, hiring and promoting more diverse and female storytellers and leaders. We hope we can encourage all those who have felt like their voices could not be heard in the past to feel empowered.”

Where does Pixar go from here?

As a woman of color who has long loved these films and this studio, I can say that all of this is very complicated for me. I have applauded Pixar’s efforts at diversity and inclusion both in front of and behind the camera. I want to continue celebrating these efforts and supporting the artists who make these films.

But I also want John Lasseter and those who knew and likely enabled his alleged behavior to be held accountable. I don’t think he should return following his sabbatical. He is not, as some people insist, irreplaceable.

Do we care more about movies or people?

I am deeply saddened that this was allowed to continue for so long. I am deeply saddened that women at Pixar were devalued and unable to advance their careers. I believe and I hope that Pixar can emerge far greater in the aftermath. But that will not be possible if Lasseter returns and nothing changes. Things are finally changing slowly as more women and men come forward to share their stories. But we have to listen.

—————————————————————————————————————————————–

Joanna

Joanna, Co-Writer

My heart sank along with the hearts of many others when I read the headlines about John Lasseter’s actions at Pixar. I’m sure thousands, even millions, of fans feel disgusted and hurt after finding out that the man responsible for so many of our childhood movies is also responsible for the belittling of female employees, and for helping create a culture within Pixar studios that stifles the creative voices of women and people of colour. And while we as fans feel shocked and saddened by these events, these women are the victims.

I think it’s important to remember that while Lasseter is fully responsible for his appalling actions, he is only partly responsible for the beautiful movies that have been created by Pixar over the years. Remember that Coco was worked on by thousands of talented, creative people, many of them of Latino descent. They are incredibly proud of what they have created. I feel like this situation isn’t as clearly defined as ‘separating the art from the artist’. Lasseter is one artist. Pixar movies are the result of years of hard work from entire crews of artists, writers, and a whole host of other employees. That’s not to say that separating the art from John Lasseter is easy though…

It’s unfair that sitting down to enjoy a Pixar movie doesn’t feel as simple anymore. But it’s infinitely more unfair that women and people of colour at Pixar, and in the animation industry in general, are not being given the equal opportunities that they obviously deserve. Let’s hope that this acts as a spark and sets in motion a positive change at Pixar studios. Let’s hope that, like Coco, their future projects continue to actively work towards making Pixar a more inclusive and respectful company.


Nia

Nia Alavezos, Co-Writer

John Lasseter was one of my heroes.

Like Walt Disney, he was the name I saw plastered all over my favorite animated films growing up. He was just like you and me – he had some big failures, a few obvious successes, but at the end of the day he was just a kid at heart and wanted to tell stories. I wanted to be like him. I wanted to work with him. I honestly wanted to be his best friend and talk endlessly about the history of animation and our love of Miyazaki films.

As someone who has wanted to work for Pixar since I was 7 years old, sitting in the cinema, jaw nearly on the floor in awe as I watched A Bug’s Life for the first time; the news that Lasseter was like so many abusers in Hollywood honestly crushed my heart. It was the final blow. I nearly wanted to pack my bags and leave Los Angeles and pursue another profession entirely. Maybe even channel my inner Henry David Thoreau and abandon society all together and live in the wilderness. I’ve worked in the animation industry for the last two and a half years at Renegade Animation in Glendale. My dream as a female storyteller is to learn as much as I can so I can one day direct my own animated films.

Upon hearing all these stories about Lasseter and other men in the film/animation industry I slowly realized I could’ve been one of those women. I can’t begin to tell you how that simple thought triggered my own experiences with sexual harassment in the past. It felt like my world was falling apart. It’s still soul crushing learning that all my heroes are actually the monsters under the bed everyone told me to worry about.

I also realized the real problem was that growing up, I only had men to look up to. All the women were working tirelessly in the shadows; their work gone unnoticed and unaccredited thanks to the male suppression. I can’t even begin to explain how amazing it would’ve been to have female directors, animators, and strong female characters to look up to when I was a child. For years I worshipped the Pixar Braintrust even when they kept women out of their special group and fired Brenda Chapman.

I know one monster’s actions don’t account for the thousands of talented artists at the studio who are just trying to make a living and achieve their dreams – but the fact this was going on for so long and while mostly everyone knew is appalling and disappointing. I can’t look at the studio the same way again. I will continue to support the films and all the hard work that’s been put into each character, background, and scene because I know first hand how grueling it is to bring a story to life but now, unfortunately the studio is tarnished for me.

What I hope to see now are more actions to account for the past – we’ve started this revolution but now it’s up to us all to fix it. I hope to see more females take the helm of Pixar films, from the initial development to the director’s chair. I hope to one day see not only a female-driven studio or female brain trust but a Hollywood that welcomes both men and women and people of all colors and walks of life. There are so many stories that have been silenced for years and now’s the time to start telling them.

Read article

Coco nominated for two Golden Globe awards

Awards, Coco, Golden Globes, Pixar

Posted by Joanna • December 11, 2017

The award nominations are still streaming in for Pixar’s latest movie Coco. It’s already dominating the Annies Awards with an impressive 13 nominations, and now it’s been nominated for two awards at the 2018 Golden Globes – ‘Best Animated Feature Film’ and ‘Best Original Song’ for ‘Remember Me’. See below for the full list of nominees in these categories:

Best animated feature film
The Boss Baby
The Breadwinner
Coco
Ferdinand
Loving Vincent

Best original song
“Home,” “Ferdinand
“Mighty River,” “Mudbound
“Remember Me,” “Coco
“The Star,” “The Star
“This Is Me,” “The Greatest Showman

We won’t have to wait long to find out whether Coco and ‘Remember Me’ will be the winners of their categories – the 75th Golden Globe Awards ceremony will be held on January 7th, 2018, at 5pm PST.

It’s been amazing seeing how Coco has affected the world in the short time since its release. 13 Annies Awards nominations, 2 Golden Globe nominations, thousands of overwhelmingly positive and touching reviews – and it’s not even out worldwide yet! In the US, it has topped the weekend box office for 3 weeks in a row, something that only 3 other Pixar movies has achieved (Toy Story and Toy Story 2 topped the box office 2 weeks in a row, and Finding Dory topped it an impressive 4 weeks in a row). And this is only the beginning of Coco‘s journey to inevitably becoming a beloved classic.

Read article

New image – “Incredibles 2 picks up, literally, where the first film left off”

Brad Bird, Incredibles 2, Pixar

Posted by Joanna • December 8, 2017

A brand new Incredibles 2 image has been released on Entertainment Weekly, and it shows us that the sequel will be just as vibrant and brilliantly stylised as 2004’s The Incredibles.

Here is the new image via Entertainment Weekly:

via Entertainment Weekly

For comparison, here’s a similar shot from The Incredibles from just after The Underminer has appeared. They’re not in their superhero attire yet, but you can see how the buildings and background still have that characteristic modern, simple style.

We already knew Incredibles 2 was to be set mere minutes after the original movie left off – those lucky enough to be in the audience at this year’s D23 presentation were treated to this information plus a teaser featuring Jack-Jack and a raccoon. Brad Bird has now also revealed that Violet and Dash’s role in fighting The Underminer isn’t entirely rewarding…

“Incredibles 2 picks up, literally, where the first film left off, with Mr. Incredible and Elastigirl battling The Underminer, while Violet and Dash are stuck with babysitting Jack-Jack.”

Elastigirl, or Helen Parr, is going to take more of a central role in this sequel, and we can’t wait to see another Pixar heroine given a bigger voice. The Entertainment Weekly post also features a great interview with the voice of Elastigirl – Holly Hunter. You can read their full interview here. It’s amazing to hear that working with Brad Bird again has been such a fun and inspiring experience for her. Her leaving statement in the interview sums up our feelings perfectly:

“I just think it’s beautiful that Incredibles 2 is allowing Mrs. Incredible to reveal all these other different colors of who she is.”

Incredibles 2 is set to release in just over 6 months on June 15th, 2018.

Read article

Bringing the music of Coco to life

Adrian Molina, Coco, Michael Giacchino, music

Posted by Simoa • November 29, 2017

Coco has won over audiences with its vivid portrayal of familial love. As much as it celebrates family, it is also a celebration of music.

Music is intimately woven into Coco, more than it is in any other Pixar film. This is only to be expected since its hero Miguel is an aspiring musician, but Coco‘s music is also influenced by Mexico which further sets it apart from other Pixar features. The filmmakers were committed to telling a story that eschewed stereotypes, one that painted an authentic and multifaceted portrait of Mexican people. The music would need these qualities as well. To achieve musical authenticity, songwriter Germaine Franco and consultant Camilo Lara were recruited to the team.

During the film’s press day in August, we were treated to a firsthand listen, learning about the myriad ways music blended into the film. And that musical presence springs directly from Miguel’s secret dream.

Federico Ramos, Michael Giacchino, Germaine Franco, Camilo Lara and Adrian Molina present at “Coco” Long Lead Press Day, which included a filmmaker roundtable, presentations about the music, story, characters and set designs of the film, on August 4, 2017 at Pixar Animation Studios in Emeryville, Calif. (Photo by Marc Flores / Pixar)

There are three types of music to be heard in Coco. The source music was very important, as it pulled from Mexico’s broad tapestry of traditional music. Mariachi is one example that figures prominently within the film.

Original songs inspired by Mexican music were written by co-director Adrian Molina, along with Franco, Bobby Lopez, and Kristen-Anderson Lopez. “Remember Me,” Ernesto de la Cruz’s most famous song, is a show stopping spectacle that recalls the glamour of Mexico’s Golden Age of cinema. Franco also noted that the song continuously reinforces the film’s theme of remembering our loved ones. The energetic “Un Poco Loco” with lyrics by Molina has a middle section which includes instrumentals only. This is one of the ways in which Lara’s purpose to create music that smells like Mexico was achieved.

Then of course is the score which encompasses character themes, as well as conflict and setting.

Federico Ramos, Michael Giacchino, Germaine Franco, Camilo Lara and Adrian Molina present at “Coco” Long Lead Press Day, which included a filmmaker roundtable, presentations about the music, story, characters and set designs of the film, on August 4, 2017 at Pixar Animation Studios in Emeryville, Calif. (Photo by Marc Flores / Pixar)

 

Michael Giacchino is one of Pixar’s most cherished collaborators. Coco marks his sixth film in this partnership. He detailed his process in composing the score, which began after he watched the film. It was a very emotional experience, not least because it brought him back to his childhood. Giacchino grew up listening to Mexican music, which he described as very melodic. Incorporating that sound into the score was a priority.

Giacchino is Italian, but the idea of family is so incredibly strong that he connected to the story, and the same is true for non Mexicans who have embraced Coco.

Authenticity is key in Coco, right down to the smallest details. The way Miguel strums the guitar had to be accurate. Pixar’s animators were praised as well for their attention to detail and making the guitar playing correct. The gorgeously designed guitar appears below.

The guitar at “Coco” Long Lead Press Day, which included a filmmaker roundtable, presentations about the music, story, characters and set designs of the film, on August 3, 2017 at Pixar Animation Studios in Emeryville, Calif. (Photo by Deborah Coleman / Pixar)

And it was this guitar that Federico Ramos (pictured above) played! As Giacchino said, the guitar was the only way to play the music of the film.

To learn more about the songwriting and scoring process, watch the featurette below. You can also catch a glimpse of the many musicians whom Franco praised for adding their own artistry and spirit to the music.

Though Coco details death and the afterlife, it’s a lively film and the music lives and breathes too.

Read article

Review: Coco is a vibrant celebration of family, music, and Mexico

Adrian Molina, Coco, Lee Unkrich, Review

Posted by Simoa • November 22, 2017

 

Coco is the #1 movie in Mexico of all time. Besides setting unprecedented box office records, it’s also become one of the country’s most beloved films. Following the film’s premiere at the Morelia International Film Festival at the end of October and its general Mexican release on November 2nd, many expressed enormous gratitude to directors Lee Unkrich and Adrian Molina for what they achieved. Coco was always going to be important. It’s Pixar’s first feature length film with a nonwhite protagonist, the first to portray a non-American/nonwhite culture, and is described as a love letter to Mexico. Naturally, Unkrich and his team were responsible for telling this story in the most faithful and positive way possible. He took that responsibility seriously, noting that he didn’t want the film to feel as if it was made by an outsider. Molina and the rest of the crew’s Mexican backgrounds certainly helped a great deal in that regard.

Here’s what Alex Nogales of the National Hispanic Media Coalition had to say about it:

Coco is the best film ever produced that truly represents our Latino values, our culture, and love of song, dance, and family. You will laugh, you will cry, and applaud loudly on seeing this wonderful film where Latinos play important roles both in front of and back of camera. See it and lets make this great film a success so that studios produce more Latino themed films and television shows.”

Steeped in the rich traditions and customs of Mexico’s Dia de Los Muertos holiday, the heart of Coco beats with tremendous love and life.

12 year old Miguel Rivera (a stellar Anthony Gonzalez in his film debut) is convinced that his family is the only one in Mexico that hates music. And he’s right. It’s inconceivable, but the Riveras believe music is a curse, ever since Miguel’s great-great grandfather walked out on his wife and daughter to pursue a music career. For generations, no Rivera has ever listened to or played music — until Miguel that is. A self taught guitarist, he dreams of being like his legendary idol Ernesto de la Cruz (Benjamin Bratt), Mexico’s most famous and beloved singing star. But of course, he’s kept this passion a secret from his family, especially his grandmother, Abuelita (Renee Victor). As the Rivera family’s loving but formidable matriarch, Abuelita is the primary enforcer of the music ban. Miguel and no one else would dare cross her.

It was Miguel’s great-great grandmother Mama Imelda (Alanna Ubach), furious over her husband’s desertion, who banned music from the Rivera household. To support herself and her daughter, Coco, she made shoes. And she passed this skill down to Coco, who in turn passed it down, until everyone in the Rivera line joined the family business. It’s clear very early on that Miguel is never going to be a shoemaker. He is finally emboldened to seize his moment (de la Cruz’s mantra) and reveal his ambition to his family, who are shocked and upset that he’s disobeyed them. But he is desperate to prove himself a real musician like his idol and perform in a talent show that’s being held on Dia de Los Muertos.

Miguel not only seizes his moment but de la Cruz’s guitar as well, on display in his mausoleum. After joyfully strumming the guitar, Miguel becomes invisible to the living, emitting a rosy orange glow, only visible to his companion, the street dog Dante, and the dead. Because it’s Dia de Los Muertos, spirits have all converged on the cemetery to reunite with their living loved ones. It’s here that he meets his family, the dead Riveras. This is not a fuzzy family reunion however. Though Miguel is awed to be in their presence, they quickly conclude that his sudden appearance to them is the reason Mama Imelda is unable to cross over to the Land of the Living; not a good thing.

Now the adventure begins, as Miguel journeys to the Land of the Dead, and learns the truth of his family history and ancestry.

This world is easily one of Pixar’s most staggering in scope and beauty. The shimmering marigold bridge that connects the two lands, the skull imagery on buildings, Ernesto de la Cruz’s grand palace and the sheer amount of vivid colors practically defy description. Color sings in the Land of the Dead, best represented in the alebrijes, animal spirit guides with bold, deep hues of red, orange, green and other dazzling colors and patterns. The most glorious of the spirit guides is Mama Imelda’s Pepita, a large and powerful winged cat who is sure to take your breath away the moment she appears onscreen.

Coco is brimming with a cast of fully realized characters, alive and not, human and not. Miguel is such a wonderful addition to Pixar’s heroes; passionate, brave, and soft hearted. The skeletons are impressive because they are animated with the same expressiveness as their living counterparts, and actually seem like real people who once lived.

One of the skeletons that Miguel befriends on his journey is the amiable and mischievous Hector (Gael Garcia Bernal), who’s fallen on hard times and is desperate to visit the Land of the Living. The two strike up a bargain: Hector helps Miguel meet de la Cruz, and Miguel helps him cross over. The one factor complicating things is Miguel’s limited time: if he doesn’t receive a family member’s blessing by sunrise at the end of Dia de Los Muertos, he’ll become a skeleton himself and will not be able to return home.

And now, the music! Music is embedded into this story. Although Coco is not a traditional musical, the characters do sing, and memorable tunes penned by the songwriting team of Robert Lopez and Kristen-Anderson Lopez, along with co-director Molina, make this film a compelling ode to music. “Un Poco Loco,” “My Proud Corazon,” and particularly the reworking of de la Cruz’s signature “Remember Me,” sung by Miguel and Natalia Lafourcade during the end credits, are standouts. Michael Giacchino’s ethereal score is yet another to join some of his most distinct Pixar work. The score is also infused with traditional Mexican music and instrumentals. A mariachi band even plays over the Disney castle and logo at the film’s beginning.

Aside from the music and spectacular visuals, Coco‘s most striking element is its theme of cherishing our families both living and dead. Make no mistake that this film speaks (or sings) to all of us with families, all of us who have lost someone dear, and those of us who need to learn more about the people we come from, long gone and maybe even forgotten, or sadly unknown. I am reminded of something Edward James Olmos, the voice of Hector’s friend Chicharron, recently said about the film and its themes:

“People who see this movie are going to come out really moved, especially when you haven’t thought about your parents or you haven’t thought about your loved ones. You haven’t really gotten into your own family, and you been too busy living your life that you haven’t gone back to even say, ‘Thank you.’ You haven’t been even to the cemetery where they’re buried now for 30 years or 20 years or however long they’ve been away from you.”

Olmos is right. I left the theater feeling immensely moved, thinking especially of two recently departed loved ones. I wondered about those who died before I was born or before I could really know them. And I was reminded about how important it is for me to love and appreciate the family I have with me now.

I am profoundly grateful to Coco for its impact on me, and that it has become a source of pride for Mexican people. Imagine the children who will see themselves reflected in Miguel and know that they can be the heroes of their own stories, and feel proud in their brown skin. For Pixar to celebrate Mexican identities is a very beautiful thing, and I hope this means more of the same with other underrepresented communities in the future. Click here to read reviews of the film from Latino perspectives.

Coco is now playing in theaters nationwideLet it into your hearts and share it with your families this weekend.

Read article