Coco celebrates the Mexican tradition of the Dia de los Muertos (Day of the Dead), a festival during which all ancestors are remembered. Miguel (voice of Anthony Gonzalez) is a young Mexican boy who dreams of becoming a musician. His hero is Ernesto De La Cruz (Benjamin Bratt), a musician who died in an accident while on stage. Mama Coco (Ana Ofelia Murguía) is Miguel’s great-grandmother, who lives with him, his parents and his grandmother or Abuelita (Renee Victor). Coco’s father, Hector (Gael García Bernal), was a musician who left Coco and her mother, Imelda (Alanna Ulbech), to pursue his career. Hector never returned, so Imelda started a shoemaking business, which has been in the family ever since. But music has been banned from the household, and Abuelita rigidly enforces this ban.
Abuelita is very angry when she discovers that Miguel has made his own guitar and intends to enter a talent contest. She smashes the guitar, and Miguel runs away to the tomb of De La Cruz. Inside the tomb Miguel somehow passes into the Land of the Dead, where he’s neither quite alive nor quite dead. There he meets his ancestors and learns the true story of what happened to his great-great-grandfather Hector. He discovers that the Land of the Dead isn’t very different from the Land of the Living, with the rich and the famous living (or dead) among the poor and forgotten. Miguel also meets his hero and finds out that not everything is as he thought it was.
Here we outline any topics, issues and ideas in this movie that might upset children and adolescents, so that you can gauge whether it is appropriate for your child. For example, children and adolescents may react adversely to themes of crime, suicide, drug and alcohol dependence, death, serious illness, family breakdown, separation from a parent, animal cruelty or distress, children as victims, natural disasters and racism.
The supernatural; life after death; family relationships
Here we identify any violence in this movie, and explain how and why it might impact on your child or adolescent. In general, movie violence can make children less sensitive to the use of violence in real life. Alternatively, they may become fearful about the prevalence and likelihood of violence in their own world. In some contexts, it can also teach them to see violence as an acceptable means of conflict resolution.
Coco has some violence. For example:
- Abuelita yells at a band of musicians and they all fall down.
- De La Cruz is crushed by a bell on stage.
- Abuelita hits a musician with her shoe for letting Miguel play his guitar.
- Abuelita smashes Miguel’s guitar in anger.
- Imelda gets angry with a woman who won’t let her ‘cross over’. She hits her with a shoe.
- De La Cruz punches a man.
- In a movie De La Cruz poisons another man by giving him a drink. He did this in real life too.
- Hector attacks De La Cruz.
- Guards seize Miguel and throw him into a pool at the bottom of a hole.
- Imelda hits De La Cruz with her shoe. A fight breaks out between Miguel’s family and security guards.
- Imelda and De La Cruz wrestle over Miguel. De La Cruz throws Miguel over a balcony into a huge crowd.
Content that may disturb children
In addition to the violent scenes mentioned above, Coco has some scenes that could scare or disturb children under five years. For example:
- The Land of the Dead is a colourful but scary place, with flying creatures, dragons and spirit animals. Mama Imelda’s spirit guide is a colourful jaguar. It’s very large and intimidating, with a loud roar. Miguel’s dog Dante, who follows him into the Land of the Dead, turns into a spirit guide.
- Miguel’s ancestors all appear to him as skeletons. Miguel glows with an orange outline and is obviously frightened.
- Miguel gets his face painted to look like a skeleton and blend in better.
- The skeletons can take their limbs off and remove their heads. On a few occasions they completely fall apart and remake themselves. One skeleton’s eyes pop out of its head and into its mouth.
In addition to the violent scenes and scary visual images mentioned above, Coco has some scenes that could scare or disturb children in this age group. For example:
- When leaving De La Cruz’s tomb Miguel is invisible, and people walk straight through him.
- Miguel’s fingers start to skeletonise. He has to get back to the Land of the Living before sunrise, but he needs his family’s blessing to do that.
- Miguel’s spine is also starting to skeletonise.
- Hector is seen in the Land of the Living, dying in pain and clutching at his stomach.
In addition to the violent scenes mentioned above, Coco has some scenes that could scare or disturb children in this age group. For example:
- Mama Imelda can’t ‘cross over’, because she needs to forgive someone.
- An old forgotten skeleton is fading. He starts to glow orange and then turns into gold dust. He has been forgotten and passes into the final death.
- Hector is fading because he has been forgotten.
Nothing of concern
Nothing of concern
Alcohol, drugs and other substances
Coco shows some use of substances. For example, characters drink on several occasions. In the Land of the Dead, the skeletons all drink at parties and the forgotten skeletons drink out of flasks.
Nudity and sexual activity
Coco shows some mild nudity and sexual activity. For example:
- De La Cruz kisses a woman in a movie scene.
- A husband and wife skeleton kiss.
- A skeleton, who is supposedly nude, poses for an artist.
There is no product placement of concern in Coco itself, but associated merchandise is likely to be marketed to children.
None of concern
Ideas to discuss with your children
Coco is acolourful Disney/Pixar animation, which deals with some serious subjects in a funny way. It reinforces the value of family, and its emotional story will pull at the heartstrings. Because of its subject matter and scary scenes, it’s more suited to older children, and children aged 7-10 years are likely to need parental guidance.
The main messages from Coco are about the importance of family, the need for forgiveness, and the need to compromise and make use of your talents. There’s also an important lesson about how things aren’t always as they seem.
Values in this movie that you could reinforce with your children include love and care for your family and gratitude for what you have.
This movie could also give you the chance to talk with your children about what your family believes happens to you when you die.