Pixar’s Coco has already been the subject of overwhelmingly positive reviews, with many agreeing that it’s one of the studios best movies to date. Coco follows the young Miguel, who longs to play guitar despite his family’s long-time ban on music. He dreams of becoming a world-famous musician, like his idol, Ernesto de la Cruz. As he sets out to achieve his dream, a string of events leads him to the Land of the Dead and on his journey, he meets a skeleton by the name of Hector. The pair then set out to uncover the secret of Miguel’s family history, and why they decided to ban music.
While Pixar is in the business of family-friendly movies, it can be hard to fathom how Coco can be suitable for very young viewers, given that it’s set in the Land of the Dead and predominantly features skeletons as characters. There’s also a lot of focus on death, and dying; logical, given the setting, but is Coco going to be too upsetting for young kids?
In short, no. It’s not the story, but how it’s told that gives Coco its warmth and charm. It also teaches kids some valuable life lessons and might well start conversations around topics that parents often find it difficult to raise. Making sure your kids are familiar with the trailer before watching the movie will certainly help – that way they’re not going to be surprised when they see walking, talking skeletons. But the skeletons are animated in a warm, endearing fashion, and they’re funny, too. This is not a dark, spooky movie. Coco is fun, full of movement and life (despite a lot of the characters being dead), and very vivid colors. It’s a visual spectacle, and kids will appreciate that. If anything, the skeletons in Coco make the notion of death far less scary; although Miguel meets his aunts and uncles in the Land of the Dead, they’re the same individual personalities as they were in life. For very young kids, this can be a reassuring thought.
Death is something that comes to us all. Some kids will have already experienced the death of a loved one, or a pet, but some will not do so until they’re much older. Either way, keeping death as a taboo subject serves no purpose at all. Kids need to accept death in order to embrace life. Pixar has done a wonderful job at emphasizing this, and whether or not you choose to raise your kids in any faith, Coco can help kids to be less fearful of a loved one dying.
There’s a heavy emphasis on celebrating life, whether that life has ended on earth or whether that person is still living. The themes of the movie – love, happiness, discovering who you are, and following your dreams – are crucial to raising kids who embrace all life has to offer. Each and every life is to be remembered with love and affection and so, far from scaring kids in a movie about death, Coco celebrates everything life has to offer.
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