Tuesday, December 6, 2016

No Longer Bare Bones: 'Coco' Details Surface

After months and months of vague hints and minor announcements, we finally have learned a lot more about Pixar's next original movie...

Directed by long-time Pixarian and Toy Story 3 director Lee Unkrich, Coco will be the Emeryville studio's take on the Day of the Dead holiday. It's been talked about for years, and it got its concrete release over a year ago. A more detailed plot synopsis is one of the many great tidbits we got today.

"Coco follows the secret musical ambitions of Miguel, who resides in a lively, loud Mexican village but comes from a family of shoemakers that may be the town’s only music-hating household. For generations, the Riveras have banned music because they believe they’ve been cursed by it; as their family history goes, Miguel’s great-great-grandfather abandoned his wife decades earlier to follow his own dreams of performing, leaving Imelda (Miguel’s great-great-grandmother) to take control as the matriarch of the now-thriving Rivera line and declare music dead to the family forever."

It's interesting how music is going to be worked into this story, but it's been clarified that Coco won't really be a musical. Randy Newman, in an interview, described Unkrich's film as a "musical"... But I guess it's not the case anymore. I've heard hints before this that suggested it wouldn't be a typical musical, either. There will be singing from the cast, we'll hear traditional and original songs, but Pixar - according to Vanity Fair - isn't keen on calling it a musical.

In addition to the plot synopsis, we got a new piece of concept art that gives you a good idea how the final product will look. It is indeed gorgeous...

Voicing main character Miguel is a newcomer named Anthony Gonzalez, he'll be joined by Benjamin Bratt (who previously let it slip that he was part of the cast), Gael Garcia Bernal, and Renee Victor.

There's even more to the released synopsis...

"But Miguel harbors a secret desire to seize his musical moment, inspired by his favorite singer of all time, the late Ernesto de la Cruz (Bratt). It’s only after Miguel discovers an amazing link between himself and De la Cruz that he takes action to emulate the famous singer and, in doing so, accidentally enters the Land of the Dead.

In the beautiful underworld, it’s not long until Miguel encounters the souls of his own family — generations’ worth of long-dead but no less vivacious Rivera ancestors, including great-great-grandmother Imelda. Still, given the opportunity to roam around the Land of the Dead, Miguel decides to track down De la Cruz himself. He teams up with another friendly (and skeletal) spirit — a trickster named Hector, voiced by Bernal — to find De la Cruz, earn his family’s blessing to perform, and return to the Land of the Living before time runs out."

Vanity Fair describes Pixar's version of the Land of the Dead as "a dazzlingly vibrant, stacked metropolis inspired by the Mexican city of Guanajuato". I hope that the film experiments with different styles of CGI, not dissimilar to how The Book of Life threw the CG rule book out the window with glee.

Now right off the bat, this is a very exciting storyline and it has enough to differentiate it from Jorge Guiterrez's visually exciting animated Day of the Dead tale, and it looks to have all that heart and humor. While it all sounds a bit dizzying, let's hope they balance it all out and hopefully explore some dark paths, too. This is Day and the Dead, and the title? It suggests that the actual Coco will be involved, the Coco (one of a few spellings, to my understanding) is a Hispanic folklore monster/bogeyman.

I also think it's the right step for Pixar to take. It looks as if they want to keep challenging themselves when it comes to original stories, especially after the reception the more traditional Brave got. The Good Dinosaur, to me, was more off the beaten path than some might believe. Of course, the inventive Inside Out was praised out the wazoo. Coco looks to be just as ambitious, but I love that they'll be focusing on another culture, because if there's one thing Pixar needs to do more, it's be diverse. So many American and a few European-set stories (Brave, Ratatouille), it's time to explore.

One slight downside for now? Michael Giacchino is doing the score. But wait a minute... Shouldn't I be excited that Giacchino is scoring it? I love Giacchino's work! But... I'd rather they get a Latin composer to do the job. With all due respect to Mr. Giacchino, he is one of the guys who normally scores Pixar's films. If it isn't him, then it's either Randy Newman or Thomas Newman. Few Pixar films used other composers; Patrick Doyle did Brave, and Mychael and Jeff Dana did The Good Dinosaur.

Anyways... I was always looking forward to this for obvious reasons. It's Pixar, it's an original story, it sounds exciting... Now I'm really geared up for it.

What say you?


  1. I'm Ok with Giachino doing the soundtrack. After all he also did the soundtrack for Ratatouille which takes place in France

    1. Very true, but also, I'd like see someone outside the Pixar wheelhouse score a film. I felt 'Coco' was a real opportunity, but I'm sure Giacchino will do a fantastic job.

    2. yeah, at least he is working with mexican bands doing the soundtrack. maybe good old Michael will learn a few things about mexican culture doing this