As if Disney-Pixar’s Coco could get any more accolades – what with its Golden Globe award, record-breaking international box office scores, two Oscar nominations and critical marvels – this week at Los Angeles City Hall, February 27th was officially declared “Coco Day in L.A.” After all, it’s the first-ever animated feature to include an almost entirely Latino voice cast – many of whom grew up and reside in the City of Angels. And it’s no accident this was the same day the film came out on Digital and Blu-ray formats.
In an outdoor high stone-columned atrium facing all of downtown, journalists, crew and community members assembled to watch 12-year-old Anthony Gonzalez, the voice of lead character Miguel, kick off the program by belting out a rendition of the Oscar-nominated Remember Me. He was colorfully backed up by the all-female Mariachi Divas – thirteen traditionally costumed ladies performing on violins, guitars and trumpets, with big red roses in their hair. To add to the merriment, they were flanked by two bright costumed well-heeled couples, dancing, whistling and stomping throughout.
Los Angeles City Councilmember Gil Cedrillo, First District, took to the mic, first in Spanish, then in English, to honor Coco, which he called “the most significant response culturally to Donald Trump. We’re dreamers – we’re people who aspire to better lives. And that was not coming through till Coco. It incorporates the very best talent of our community. It’s the story that all of us have in our families – of pursuing our dreams. That’s why we’re all here this morning – we want to be the better angels of this city.” He then apologized for politicizing the event– “but in this critical time when we are assailed and assaulted every single day by the most embarrassing crew of people to ever occupy The White House, nothing could be more important than the authentic, positive, representation of the core family values of our community.”
Coco co-director Lee Unkrich (Toy Story 3) greeted the assembled crowd, pronouncing, “This is an incredible honor to be here today – to honor the people who worked so hard at Pixar for six years. I remember the day we first pitched the film to Disney – they immediately gave us the thumbs up! But then I felt a crushing responsibility to make sure the film was as authentic and respectful to the Latino community as possible. There wasn’t a day that went by we didn’t measure the story we were telling against what was right. And to see the film be as embraced by the Latino community – all over the country and especially here in Los Angeles – has been beyond our wildest dreams. To have the city today proclaiming this “Coco Day” – I don’t think that’s anything we could have imagined would ever happen!”
The film’s producer Darla Anderson (also from Toy Story 3) added, “We want to thank the beautiful country, people and community of Mexico, for taking us in and making us family. And I’m also excited because now every year on ‘Coco Day,’ everybody gets the day off – right?”
That got a big cheer, especially from the kids who dragged parents to see and meet the stars of their favorite 2017 movie. Anthony, the Mariachi Divas and four dancers then took to the stage again, to close out the program with the film’s other popular song Un Poco Loco. The kids couldn’t help but dance and sing along in their seats – then rushed in for autographs as soon as the song wrapped up.
Double Oscar nominees Unkrich and Anderson were besieged by reporters and camera crews afterward about their chances on March 4 – the question they’ve been happily pummeled with since the Oscar nominations came out. “We don’t know if we’re going to win!!! We hope to win!” laughed Unkrich. “All of our fingers and toes are crossed,” added Anderson. “Particularly for the people of Mexico. But you never know. It was the most important thing to us that the film be embraced there –if it didn’t work there, it would have been a big disappointment.” “We had a lot of questions about if the Latino community would embrace it,” said Unkrich. “It was always our intention it be a love letter to Mexico. And given the response – in a way, we’ve already won.”
Coco is nominated for two Academy Awards – Best Animated Feature Film and Best Original Song “Remember Me,” and also won the 2018 Golden Globe Award for Best Animated Motion Picture. The film topped the domestic Thanksgiving holiday weekend box office, became the highest grossing film of all time in Mexico, broke records in China and has earned widespread praise receiving 97 percent from critics and 95 percent from audiences on Rotten Tomatoes.