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MOVIE REVIEW

Coco also known as “Koko,” “Coco - Lebendiger als das Leben,” “Coco i velika tajna,” “Coco: Το Γεύμα του Δάντη,” “Viva: A Vida é uma Festa,” “Коко,” «Тайна Коко,» «Тайната на Коко»

MPAA Rating: PG-Rating (MPAA) for thematic elements.

Reviewed by: Carrie Pflug—first time reviewer
CONTRIBUTOR

Offensive
Moviemaking Quality:

Primary Audience:
Family
Genre:
Animation Family Adventure Comedy
Length:
1 hr. 49 min.
Year of Release:
2017
USA Release:
November 22, 2017 (wide—3,987 theaters)
Copyright, Walt Disney Studios Motion Pictures click photos to ENLARGE Copyright, Walt Disney Studios Motion Pictures Copyright, Walt Disney Studios Motion Pictures
Relevant Issues
Copyright, Walt Disney Studios Motion Pictures

The importance of forgiveness

Music in the Bible

Copyright, Walt Disney Studios Motion Pictures

Dia de Muertos—The Mexican day of the dead

Copyright, Walt Disney Studios Motion Pictures

The practice of lighting candles for the dead for more than simple remembrance or honor

Copyright, Walt Disney Studios Motion Pictures

Copyright, Walt Disney Studios Motion Pictures

Copyright, Walt Disney Studios Motion Pictures

What is DEATH? and why does it exist? Answer in the Bible

Copyright, Walt Disney Studios Motion Pictures

What does the Bible say really happens to people after they die?

Copyright, Walt Disney Studios Motion Pictures

What are FAMILIAR SPIRITS? Does the Bible support the existence of GHOSTS—dead souls lingering on Earth? Answer

What is a NECROMANCER? Answer

After we supposed to WORSHIP THE DEAD? Absolutely not. Honoring one’s family is fine, but the pagan practices of bring gifts to the dead and praying to them or attempting to consult with them is definitely wrong.

What is the OCCULT? Answer

THE OCCULT—What does the Bible say about it? Answer

Kid Explorers™
Adventures in the rainforest! Learn about the Creator of the universe by exploring His marvelous creation. Fun for the whole family with games, activities, stories, answers to children’s questions, color pages, and more! One of the Web’s first and most popular Christian Web sites for children. Nonprofit, evangelical, nondenominational.
Featuring: Anthony Gonzalez … Miguel Rivera, a 12-year-old aspiring musician (voice)
Gael García BernalHéctor, a charming trickster in the Land of the Dead and Miguel’s great-great grandfather (voice)
Alanna Ubach … Mamá Imelda Rivera, Miguel’s late great-great-grandmother, Héctor's wife, Coco’s mother and the matriarch of the Rivera family (voice)
Benjamin BrattErnesto de la Cruz, famous Mexican musician and Miguel’s idol (voice)
Edward James OlmosChicharrón, friend of Hector in the Land of the Dead (voice)
John RatzenbergerJuan Ortodoncia, skeleton in the Land of the Dead (voice)
Cheech MarinCorrections Officer (voice)
Renée Victor (Renee Victor) … Abuelita Elena Rivera, Miguel’s grandmother who enforces music ban (voice)
Ana Ofelia Murguía … Mamá Coco Rivera, Miguel’s great-grandmother and the daughter of Héctor and Imelda (voice)
Alfonso Arau … Papá Julio Rivera, Miguel’s late great-grandfather and Coco’s husband (voice)
Jaime Camil … Papá Enrique Rivera, Miguel’s father (voice)
Sofía Espinosa … Mamá Luisa Rivera, Miguel’s mother (voice)
Herbert Siguenza … Tío Oscar / Tío Felipe (voice)
Gabriel Iglesias … Clerk (voice)
See all »
Director: Lee Unkrich—“Toy Story 3,” “Finding Nemo” (2003)
Producer: Pixar Animation Studios
Walt Disney Pictures
Darla K. Anderson
Distributor: Walt Disney Studios Motion Pictures

A message of forgiveness and family love mixed with erroneous pagan messages about the afterlife

Pixar has come out with some of the most genuinely clever, funny and touching features in the history of animated film. They have always been based on creative, accessible and family-friendly subjects, such as toys, bugs, fish and cars. “Coco,” however, though funny and touching at times, in my opinion, has crossed over to a different sort of subject. It introduces a look into a so-called “Land of the Dead” and spirit guides.

The dead (walking bones with lots of personality, talent and life stories) must be remembered by their families yearly in order to survive in their world of the dead. To me, this is reminiscent of the unbiblical practice of praying for (or “remembering”) souls in “purgatory” to atone for their sins in life, so that they may be allowed to go on to Heaven.

From a Biblical standpoint, this is not accurate; there is no place of purgatory or second chances after death. Regenerate saved souls go directly to be with God (eternal life), and the wicked who have rejected God’s gift of forgiveness and salvation go to await The Final Judgment where they will justly sentenced to eternal death. The Bible states in Hebrews 9:27,

“And just as it is appointed for man to die once, and after that comes the judgment.”

“…absent from the body, and…present with the Lord.” —2 Corinthians 5:8

Also, disturbing are the cute, terrible and colorful spirit guides who help the dead through various trials. Deuteronomy 18:11 states,

“There shall not be found one among you that uses a charmer or a consulter with familiar spirits.”

These to me are the most objectionable aspects of “Coco.” The whole movie takes us to this strange world—a dark place—but seemingly harmless, as it appears animated—colorful, musical and seemingly normal and happy. This is a very misleading depiction of what follows physical death, and it presents a bizarre afterlife without the reality of Heaven, Hell or the need for the Gospel.

Importance of granting forgiveness to others

In God’s sight, it is totally unacceptable for a Christian to refuse to forgive others.

Remember the parable of the master who forgave a guilty man who owed him an amount so enormous that he could never hope to pay it back? The master completely forgave him. But, afterward, that forgiven man roughly grabbed another who owed him a very small amount, and allowed him no time to repay—showed him no mercy—and threw him into prison. When the master heard of this, he was FURIOUS and his punishment was swift.

In that parable, the Master represents God. And the forgiven man represents you, IF you have similarly FAILED to forgive another, when Christ’s blood has paid your unpayable debt to God, and He has forgiven you for everything you have ever done wrong—and for your continuing failures to do everything that is truly right and good.

Therefore, we have a responsibility to be humble, forgiving, loving servants of God.

The story is of Miguel growing up in a family that has harbored unforgiveness for generations toward a great-great grandfather. This has crippled him from following his talent for playing guitar and singing. He disobeys his family’s demands of never playing music and that triggers a chain of events that causes him to enter the world of the dead.

He comes close to joining the dead, as well, unless he can get the blessing of these dead relatives. He ultimately finds his real great-great grandfather and uncovers the reason why he disappeared from the world of the living and caused his family’s unforgiveness. The source of this disappearance involves a murder (and some may find that point offensive).

There is also some drinking of alcohol in two scenes, both associated with death and the murder.

Ultimately, there is forgiveness in Manuel’s family, which is the most touching part of the story. Forgiveness always releases people from many problems and allows love to heal.

“Blessed is the one whose transgressions are forgiven, whose sins are covered.” —Psalm 32:1

“And when you pray, if you hold anything against anyone, forgive them, so that your Father in heaven may forgive you your sins.” —Mark 11:25

This to me was the best part of the film, because it does bring out the major importance of forgiveness for all people.

However, all in all, I cannot recommend this Pixar feature for family viewing due to its departure into a dark and misleading world, failing to portray any truth about death and the afterlife—instead celebrating cultural practices that are displeasing to God. As a family film, I would like to have seen Mexican culture presented in a whole different set of circumstances.

  • Violence: Moderate
  • Profane language: “Heck”
  • Other language: Mild—“What a good spirit guide,” “You rat,” “That bum,” “I don't want to see your stupid face”
  • Nudity: None
  • Sex: • Off handed reference a women’s body in a song • A romantic movie kiss • An artists paints a nude woman (she’s all bones)
  • Alcohol: Some

See list of Relevant Issues—questions-and-answers.


Viewer CommentsSend your comments
Comments below:
Positive
Positive—First, I’ll include a comment about the Disney/Pixar short for Olaf (a spin-off of “Frozen”), because it played for 22 minutes before “Coco” began. As a die-hard Disney fan, I was more interested in the short than in “Coco,” however, I found it didn’t live up to expectations. There was even a scene in which a man wearing only a towel took off the towel (off-screen). There was one other shocker, but I can’t remember exactly what was said. I just remember it being inappropriate language in disguise. Kids probably wouldn’t pick up on it, but I definitely did. (It was no worse than what you’d hear in a lot of other kid cartoons, but I didn’t expect it from Disney.)

As for “Coco,” I was VERY pleasantly surprised! It was GREAT! Obviously, you’ll have to talk to your kids about a Biblical view of the afterlife, but other than that, it gets a huge thumbs up from me and from my two boys (9 and 12) who came with me. *spoiler alert* My boys are old enough that it didn’t matter, but if you have younger children, be mindful that there is talk of murder by poisoning in a couple of different places in the movie, and also be aware that it seems the poison was served in an alcoholic drink.
My Ratings: Moral rating: Offensive / Moviemaking quality: 5
—Chrystal, age 40 (USA)
Positive—This was an absolutely wonderful film with wonderful messages. The lead character was a positive role model for kids—loves his family, respects his elders, yet is also willing to stand up for himself and what he understands to be right. Also, learns much of his own flaws, why sticking with your family is important, and the dangers of being willing to sacrifice others to your selfish ends.

The music is gorgeous, going back and forth between English and Spanish. It isn’t quite a musical, but there are several original songs weaved in the narrative that will worm their way into your mind. The visuals are breathtaking to go with them—the colors leap off the screen in a way I haven’t seen for a long while. It’s funny without being excessively crude (judging by the trailers before the movie, a rare feat these days), and you will shed some genuine tears at some points. The clever nods towards different areas of Mexican culture—food, language, architecture, even a cameo appearance of Frida Kahlo, all paid beautiful respect to the nation. It preaches understanding on all sides. See all »
My Ratings: Moral rating: Good / Moviemaking quality: 5
—Rachel [Episcopal], age 21 (USA)
Response from a reader (comments—not a review)—While I haven’t seen this movie in its entirety to say for certain that my critique is predicated on first hand observation, there are enough spoilers in the reviews for me to know that this is not one I want to give my hard-earned dollars to. I’m happy to save this one for Netflix, if I watch it at all. I consider my money my vote, and there are plenty of other very positive quality movies out there at this time for me to support, so I have no problem boycotting this one.

I just wish that more Americans, “Christians” especially, would be more intentional with how they spend their money, because clearly if we were, then we wouldn’t have this Cultural Marxist agenda forced down our throat‘s in every children’s movie that comes out.

So let’s take a look at a few quotes, and why I disagreed with the positive reviews of this movie:

QUOTE #1: “Maybe it’s better to show this movie to your kids and have a conversation with them about the practices of other cultures, including how Mexicans blend Christianity with the traditions of their ancestors just like we do. After all, we’re discussing a country that often had Christianity forced on it in a rather un-Christ-like manner, so we can pay their history some respect.”

First of all, what you are really advocating here is cultural sensitivity, not paying their history (be that progressive revisionism as it may) some respect. Let’s not muddle the facts here.

Although, I do agree that this movie could be an excellent teaching tool, for parents wishing to teach their children the advantages of critical thought, by allowing them the opportunity to point out all of the logical fallacies in the film, and in views expressed as in the quote above (progressive revisionism, cultural relativism, secular humanist ideology, etc.). Critiquing and evaluating the film while they watch it, could be an excellent learning opportunity. With that being said, a nominally balanced understanding of world history is all that’s needed to see through the smoke and mirrors of historical revisionism in this person’s perspective, and negate the need to “apologize” for our American Heritage.

Here we are in the greatest country in the world, that has offered nothing less than limitless potential for the highest quality of life attainable to anyone and their descendants willing to work for it, as evidenced by the millions scrambling to get here. From 1820 to 1930 alone, more than 37 million came to America—not Mexico—seeking freedom and the opportunity to increase their personal wealth… and by the millions they have attained a dramatically improved quality of life, if not for themselves, then for their descendants… and you’re going to lecture us on “paying respect” to Mexican culture!?!

QUOTE #2: “There is hardly an aspect of modern Christianity that isn’t practiced alongside indigenous traditions or fantastical tales… If you’re going to get upset by your kids seeing them in “Coco,” then you probably shouldn’t show them Christmas trees, read them the Christmas Carol (ghosts), or reference Santa Clause in any form this holiday season. Should move Christmas out of December, too.”

Sorry, there is no comparison between Christmas and The Day of the Dead, unless you feel the need to acquiesce to cultural relativism and the progressive assault on Christianity. If I felt the need to apologize for my Western Heritage, and likewise concede deference to “Mexican culture, ” then I would go live there. But then again, I’m not one to pay lip service… Like most conservative Americans, I put my money where my mouth is.

The bottom line is whether or not the movie in question is following or honoring biblical principles. It’s not so much about cultural relevance or cultural sensitivity, or any of that politically correct garbage. It’s about, does this movie honor the principles in the Bible and does it uphold our faith? A movie that is depicting the celebration of death which is completely anti-biblical and is having kids dress up like dead people and pray to, and pray for, their ancestors is completely against anything that Christ taught. So, why would I want to subject my children to that? I will tell them this is something that Mexican culture does, so they’re aware of it, but I’m not going to have them go to a movie that upholds / elevates it as something good, wholesome, and right. Isaiah 5:20

See all »
—Harry, age 46 (USA)
Positive—Okay, a few things: …This film ends up being way more pro-family than much of what is sold to us by Disney etc. Staying for the conclusion would’ve given the one “negative” reviewer a very surprising twist that undermines their review, and could mislead folks into not seeing a really good movie.

…I am much more concerned with the “be true to yourself” and “follow your heart” messages (both of which are critiqued by this movie) than the presence of magic and false spiritual realities. When things are blatantly silly—like the Day of the Dead—it is fairly easy to have a good conversation with your kids. You can show them how many cultures—though false and erring—appeal to the reality of existence after death, and how this is consistent with Romans 1, and undermines the claims of atheism. Louis Berkhof makes a similar observation in his “Manual of Christian Doctrine, ” and I think it is a great apologetic tool. See all »
My Ratings: Moral rating: Better than Average / Moviemaking quality: 4½
—Nick, age 35 (USA)
Neutral
Neutral—Basically this is a beautiful movie with beautiful music like most Disney movies. It does have a significantly different view of the afterlife than Christianity. In it, the deceased must be remembered by people living on earth or they disappear from the land of the dead. In essence, the afterlife portrayed seems to be a continuation of how your life was on earth, with your popularity still playing a big role in how well off you are. This might be okay from an atheistic perspective, but I don’t think that educated viewers will prefer it over the biblical Heaven.

There is also the issue that Miguel, as punishment for stealing, winds up stuck in the land of the dead with his dead relatives. This obviously breaks God’s rule against communicating with the dead, although, obviously Miguel does not have much choice in the matter. Also, as part of the traditions, families make offerings to their dead relatives.

Overall, I would say this is a good movie, if you are firm in your beliefs and want to see a movie about Mexico that is more family friendly than much of what is made by Hollywood. It also speaks to desires of humanity: to be loved by one’s family, able to pursue one’s gifts, and be remembered for your accomplishments. One thing that struck me, was that the characters have to be remembered by the living in order to continue their existence, but in real life, we know that our eternity in Heaven is already for certain, forever, if we trust God because Jesus remembered us, paid the price for the sin separating us from God, and promises that no one can take us out of God’s hands. Jesus has already remembered us, and because of that we will live forever!
My Ratings: Moral rating: Very Offensive / Moviemaking quality: 5
—Hayes, age 26 (USA)
Negative
Negative—Our family really must not be of this world. I loved the “Frozen” mini movie that happened before “Coco”—a movie about the importance of family traditions. But as for “Coco”… people keep saying it is about family, but it is about a little boy who dislikes his family, and his whole family just keeps yelling at him through most of the movie. My 7 year old is very sensitive to “kids getting in trouble with their parents” type of themes. He hid his face from 5 minutes into the movie, until we finally left half-way through.

The boy Miguel idolizes his great great grandfather… a man who left his family in the dust to become rich and famous… as if this is a good thing! That theme turned my stomach.

Even Miguel’s dead family was chasing him in anger… we finally left, so maybe they all reconcile, but, for too long, it is more of an anti-family movie then pro-family.
—Lisa, age 46 (USA)
Negative—There is no denying that “Coco,” from a visual and a plot perspective, is well done. Colorful, it successfully wins you over, even if you object to much of what it’s about. And that’s the real problem with the movie. It’s a masterpiece of propaganda/brainwashing to convince people that God, Heaven, and Hell don’t matter. What it preaches makes a certain amount of sense from a human emotional perspective, even while being completely false, and in some cases self-contradicting.

People will say it’s about Mexican cultural traditions. Well, the reality, is that the Day of the Dead is a bankrupt tradition. In “Coco,” the “afterlife” they preach depends on people remembering you, and once they stop, you disappear. What you did in your earthly life apparently has no bearing on how you live in the afterlife (proved by the famous singer Ernesto murdering Hector for his songs, but still being famous and living well in the afterlife.) So, based on this philosophy, Hitler, Stalin, Mao—mass murderers—would live a long time, and probably pretty well, because many people remember them. That seems rather unfair doesn’t it? And sending the wrong message to kids that it doesn’t really matter what you do.

The reality is, Pixar needs to stay out of the religion/afterlife/spirituality sector. And Christians need to boycott this movie, and not allow their impressionable, precious little children to see it. Because, under all the beautiful scenery, and funny lines, it’s a bankrupt ideology that is being programmed into you and your kids. You may be able to resist it. But they may not.
My Ratings: Moral rating: Very Offensive / Moviemaking quality: 4½
—George, age 48 (USA)

PLEASE share your observations and insights to be posted here.