Coco is a vibrant children’s movie that explores the traditions of the Mexican holiday, Day of the Dead. In this movie, it portrays Miguel’s desire to become a musician despite his family’s wishes, and the power of family. In the movie, Miguel can interact with his skeletal dead relatives, who are visiting from the Land of the Dead for the holiday. This movie shows Miguel’s journey, as he discovers that he is cursed for stealing from the dead, and he must return to the Land of the Living before sunrise, or he will become one of the dead.

This movie is a tribute to Mexican traditions and customs. For the Day of the Dead, Miguel’s family put together an ofrenda, which is a family’s collection of objects placed on a ritual display during the annual and traditionally Mexican Day of the Dead celebration. This ofrenda is created for our loved one who has died and is intended to welcome them.

While all is well in the end, the movie can be sad, especially for those who’ve lost beloved relatives. But it also has powerful themes of perseverance, teamwork, and gratitude. This movie encourages children to love and appreciate their family and always follow their dreams.

Things to talk to your kids about when watching this movie:

–        Families can talk about the journey Miguel went through to find out about himself. What does Miguel learn in Coco? How did his experiences in the Land of the Dead help him grow and understand his family?

–        Talk about family roles. Which characters were portrayed as role models, and what characteristics they did demonstrate?

–        What did you learn about this holiday?

–        How does your family pay tribute to loved ones after their death?

–        Which holidays and cultural traditions do you celebrate with your family?​

Author: Chris Seminario, Ryan’s Place Intern

Indiana University, South Bend – Master of Social Work Program