Pixar’s Coco opens in theaters nationwide on Wednesday and it could not come at a better time. While our president is trying desperately to build a wall between the United States and Mexico, Coco is building a bridge. Coco is a beautiful fable about a boy who wants to be a guitar player and goes on a spectacular adventure to the afterlife on Día de Los Muertos to make it happen.
Gael Garcia Bernal (Mozart in the Jungle, Y Tu Mamá También) plays Hector, a poor soul who doesn’t want to be forgotten. Bernal said Coco is dedicated to the Latino kids growing up the United States in the shadow of Trump’s agenda.
“…It’s been said that their parents, or grandparents, or great-grandparents are rapists, murderers, drug traffickers. And these kids are being born in a moment of huge, complete fear, and they have to fight against the lie, and it’s very complicated to argue against the lie.”
Coco celebrates their culture and is something that kids can be proud of, he said at a press conference earlier this month. “… it’s gonna give kids a way to feel confident of where they come from, of where their parents, great-grandparents, grandparents come from, to know that they come from a very sophisticated culture.”
Alana Ubach (Girlfriend’s Guide to Divorce) was thrilled to play the role of Mama Imelda and share her culture. “To me it really was an opportunity to bring my very heart and soul to the table,” she said during an interview for the MomsLA Podcast. “A lot of the times it’s a bit of a stretch to play characters out of your heritage, out of your culture. But for this this was probably one of the easiest characters I’ve had to portray because it came so naturally.”
She couldn’t wait for her mother to see the film. There is one scene where Mama Imelda sings La Llarona, a song her mother used to sing with her when she was a little girl to make her go to sleep. Once she started singing it was “waterworks,” for the two of them, she said.
And it wasn’t just Ubach who was emotional about the film. Edward James Olmos (Stand and Deliver, Battlestar Galactica) saw the movie at a screening at Disney. It had been two year since he had voiced his character, Chicharron. Chcharron is an old guitar player that Olmos could relate to as if he were a friend or relative. As he watched his story’s character unfold onscreen he couldn’t hold back.
“And by the time it got to the end, I was in heaving sobs. And – I mean, harsh, heaving sobs, you know, like one of those kind of things that – not only is pride taken over, because I am Mexican, full blooded on everybody’s side; not only am I a person who has been inside of this industry for over 50 years; not only have I really tried to understand myself inside of this art form – but this really became something really profound,” he said. “And so what ended up happening is that I looked around immediately, because I was in the last chair, in the back. And I looked around, and you know, these people were all crying – everybody. Everybody was like so intensely, just trying to hold onto it, and wiping their faces, and holding on, and watching the movie. I said, ‘Hell, this thing just hit everybody like a ton of bricks.'”
Olmos said that Coco will resonate with families – not just Latino families – who have lost loved ones. Día de Los Muertos is a time for families to celebrate loved ones who have passed away. Families will leave the film wanting to talk about their loved ones and share stories so their memories don’t fade away.
“People are going say thank you to the Mexican culture for introducing them to a value that they did not know anything about,” he said.
Coco opens nationwide on November 22nd.