Here Are A Few Surprises From Pixar’s Upcoming “Coco” Movie

credit: CREDIT: PIXAR / INSTAGRAM / LEE UnkRICH / TWITTER

Pixar’s reputation as a storytelling powerhouse is undeniable. But in 2012, when the company announced it had plans to create a Dia De Los Muertos movie, people were concerned that Pixar was just appropriating Mexican culture for a quick buck. It didn’t help when, a year later, Disney actually tried to copyright the phrase “Dia De Los Muertos.” Since that time, director Lee Unkrich, who also directed “Toy Story 3,” has put in a big effort to address concerns while also crafting a story that could live up to Pixar’s reputation.

After years of development, Pixar has finally released new details on their upcoming movie “Coco.”


“Coco” features Miguel Rivera, a 12-year-old boy, who absolutely loves music. He’s obsessed with the sounds of Ernesto de la Cruz, a singer who died long before Miguel could watch him perform. Unfortunately, Migue’s family has put a ban on music because Miguel’s great-grandfather abandoned his “Abuelita” for a life of performing.  Miguel soon discovers that he has an unexpected connection with Ernesto de la Cruz, which leads him to the land of the dead, where he meets his ancestors, as well as a prankster skeleton named Hector. There are more details to read, but rather than spoil them, we’ve provided a link here.

For director Unkrich, it was important to get the cast just right.


Pixar is as well known for hiring the right actors to bring their characters to life. “Coco” looks like it will be no exception. Benjamin Bratt plays Miguel’s favorite musician, Ernesto de la Cruz. Renée Victor plays Miguel’s great-grandmother, Abuelita. In the land of the dead, Miguel meets a mischievous skeleton named Hector, who is voiced by Gael García Bernal. The selection of actors was no mistake. As Unkrich told Entertainment Weekly, “It was important to us from day one that we had an all-Latino cast.”

Oh yeah, the main character, Miguel Rivera, is voiced by newcomer Anthony Gonzalez.


Gonzalez was brought on early in the project to provide a temporary voice that animators could use to develop the Miguel’s animation. However, Gonzalez proved to be so good with the character that he was permanently offered the role of Miguel. Gonzalez’ talents don’t end with voiceover work, he actually sings every song his character performs in the movie.

Fun fact: Gael García Bernal almost didn’t make the cut.


Unkrich was a huge fan of Bernal’s acting, but his lack of comedy acting proved to be a hiccup in getting Bernal cast for the role. Thankfully Pixar’s CEO, John Lasseter, became a fan when he saw Bernal’s recent project, “Mozart in the Jungle.” After that, everyone was on team Bernal.

“We’re not trying to make the definitive Mexican movie,” director Unkrich told Vanity Fair.

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CREDIT: PIXARSCOCO / INSTAGRAM


Early in the film making process, Lee Unkrich understood that it would be impossible to capture a culture as rich and diverse as Mexico’s in just one film. To achieve what they needed for “Coco”, additional creative help was required.

Like any great creative endeavor, Pixar and Unkrich reached out to consultants that could help them celebrate Mexican culture.


Pixar brought in Latino playwright Octavio Solís, Chicano cartoonist Lalo Alcaraz and Disney’s Latino Cultural Adviser Marcela Davison Avilés to make sure the story respected the subject matter. Unkrich told Vanity Fair, “we had an enormous responsibility to tell this story right and to not lapse into cliche or stereotype.”

Alcaraz was brought on as a consultant, even after his outspoken criticism of Disney.


When Disney tried to copyright “Dia De Los Muertos,” Alcaraz quickly became one of the company’s most vocal critics. Years before the controversy, Alcaraz released a calendar featuring cartoons that called out Disney’s attempts at cultural appropriation. Rather than ignore the Alcaraz’s complaints, Unkrich and Pixar brought the cartoonist on as a consultant.

Thanks to the collaborators efforts, Unkrich has called “Coco” a “Love letter to Mexico.”


“The best way to bring people in and have them empathize with others,” Unkrich told Vanity Fair, “is through storytelling. If we can tell a good story with characters audiences can care about, I’d like to think that prejudices can fall aside and people can just experience the story and these characters for the human beings that they are.” This is arguably what Pixar is all about.

Mexico’s music plays a huge role in the film.


From “Beauty And The Beast” to “Frozen,” animated movies have a long history with music. “Coco” looks like it will be no exception; it’s major plot point hinges on Miguel’s talents as a musician. But Pixar and Unkrich have stopped short of calling it a musical. Whatever it is, we’re excited.

“Coco” is currently scheduled for a November 2017 release date.

CREDIT: ENTERTAINMENT WEEKLY / YOUTUBE

Still a long way from release, mitú will be sure to provide any information on “Coco” as it arrives. Stay tuned.

READ: Disney Just Hired a Chicano Cartoonist Who Criticized Them for Years

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