'Coco' sets a high bar for accurate Latino representation in film —
July 22, 2018

‘Coco’ sets a high bar for accurate Latino representation in film

By René Castro

The new Pixar film "Coco"

By now you’ve seen it, or if you didn’t, what on Earth were you doing? Regardless, I’m not here to convince you to see it. I’m here to talk about where we go from here and what we do Post-Coco.

I’m not trying to be funny, Post-Coco is something I’m genuinely going to refer to because this movie has made a mark on Mexican/Latino representation in American film. “Coco” isn’t a story that happens to have Mexicans in it, à la Diego Luna in the fairly recent “Rogue One.” This film is unapologetically Mexican, a box office hit where there are occasional whole sentences in Spanish with no subtitles.

The reviews are overwhelming positive all over the world. Domestically, the film was the fourth best debut over a Thanksgiving weekend, with 36 percent of ticket sales attributed to Hispanics. The movie has not only become Mexico’s highest-grossing movie ever, but it crushed box office records in China, making it Pixar’s most popular film in that country. This goes to prove that family values and remembering ancestors is a concept that resonates across cultures.

It’s rare that I defend a piece of art so vehemently, because there’s always something to improve. But any doubt about Coco’s narrative drive is washed away watching the film dubbed in Spanish. It’s palpable how much more comfortable the majority of the cast is in their native tongue. Songs sound more at home (“Recuérdame” is the cooler, older brother to “Remember Me”).

So, where do we go from here? Hopefully we showed some suits in production houses that the Latino population in this country is rising and we’re here to stay. We’re not going anywhere. We want stories we see ourselves and our families in and we’re willing to open our wallets for them.

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