I did it. I finally did it. Why did I do it to myself? Possibly because Halloween was this week.
I watched Coco.
Last night, after a perfectly fine Friday, and good week for that matter, I scrolled through Netflix and chose Coco. I wanted to end the day by watching a movie, not a DVR’d show. I had worked from home and didn’t feel motivated to get dressed and leave my apartment to go to the theater. Last weekend, I saw a free screening of Nobody’s Fool. We audience members were surprised when writer-director Tyler Perry and star Tiffany Haddish came strolling down the aisle, mics in hand, to introduce the film. The movie was funny and I want to see it again. I want to support its box office sales. #SupportBlackFilms It would be a good date night movie with the fella I’m currently seeing, but he’s in the Reserves and out of town performing his duties.
Netflix it is.
I also want to see Bohemian Rhapsody, starring Rami Malek. It’ll no doubt do well at the box office. I can’t claim to be the biggest Queen fan, knowing We Will Rock You, and of course Bohemian Rhapsody. My family and I have performed that song en masse in public several times. Karoake bar, Hard Rock Café at Foxwoods, and most recently my cousin’s wedding last September. His now-wife was adamant that it not be played at the reception. We act a fool when it comes on. Arms linked with my cousins, I sang my heart out until my throat was hoarse and face so sweaty my glasses kept slipping down my nose. So yeah, I’m sure that movie will hold a special place in my heart after I see it.
As for Coco, I actively avoided watching it, despite my 21-year-old goddaughter’s insistence to do so. She played me the YouTube clip of young Miguel, the main character, playing guitar and singing “Remember Me” to his great-grandmother Coco. She slowly and weakly joined in. You have to have a cold, dead heart to remain unmoved by that song. My heart is only partially cold and dead, so the tears came. They did not fall. That time.
Based on the song making me cry, and Disney having a knack for making me cry (hello Toy Story, Lion King, Bambi, Dumbo), I avoided Coco—but added it to my Netflix queue. (I’m a glutton for punishment.) I was convinced I made the right decision when a few months ago, my social media timeline was littered with people’s posts about Coco making them cry. Hilarious Jessie Woo even posted a funny, but still emotional Instagram story about Coco. Her posts are funny rants, skits, and jokes about wigs, dating, sex, and having Haitian parents (how I relate to her), so this deviance into commentary about a children’s cartoon movie assured me I emotionally couldn’t handle this movie.
It’s called Coco, but follows Miguel. Coco was a little girl when her father left her and her mother to pursue his passion of music. He never returned. His disappearance led to a multigenerational ban on music—singing and playing instruments. Despite this ban, Miguel grows up loving music and wants to become a musician. He has a secret hideout where he watches the movies of his musical idol Ernesto de la Cruz. Not only does he sing along, but he plays his great-great grandfather’s guitar—self-taught no less.
As adamant as the Miguel’s family is against music, they are adamant about remembering and honoring ancestors on Dia de los Muertos. Through a series of events that occur on Dia de los Muertos, Miguel ends up crossing over to the Land of the Dead, which by the way, is beautifully animated with rich and bright colors. You’ll have to watch the movie to see what I mean and for all events that I glossed over. It’s tricky to write about the movie without the many spoilers.
The Mexican holiday Dia de los Muertos means Day of the Dead. My kindergarten level Spanish knows this. It happens to begin on the American “holiday” of Halloween on October 31 and ends November 2. Knowing that it’s day celebrating the dead and that Coco takes place on the holiday, I said to myself: I’m good. I’ll stay away. From the actual day and the movie. So what it’s a kid’s movie? I don’t want a movie to trigger my thoughts and fears about ghosts and spirits. It’s why I don’t watch horror, thriller or zombie movies. Not even the trailers. Let the undead stay over there.
I think about my late mother all the time. Sometimes I worry that I’m the only one who thinks about her, even though my grandparents (her parents) are still alive. I also have a deceased cousin, with whom I was very close. Those are the only dead I want occupying my thoughts and possibly, sometimes, my space.
Being forgotten after I die is a fear I have admitted to few people. Coco touched upon that fear. Miguel encounters Hector who is slowly fading away because he’s being forgotten in the living world. My cousins think I’m joking when I say I want to create plenty of happy memories with their children to secure a good eulogy at my funeral. I want to be remembered, but more importantly, be remembered positively after I’m gone.
I’m neither a millennial nor a senior citizen. I date, but no relationship has planted roots to blossom into something that creates more branches on my family tree. In Coco, Miguel learns that after loved ones die, a picture is placed on an alter to keep their memories alive ,and so that they can visit on Dia de los Muertos. As I said before, I knew the translation of the holiday, but not its actual significance. I just knew that all the face painting and painted skulls, though beautiful, freaked me out. The movie was informative in that way.
Early in the movie, Miguel claims he doesn’t care if he’s remembered after he dies, but of course, after spending a day in Land of the Dead with Hector, and witnessing someone vanish because there’s no one left to remember him, the importance of family and loved ones becomes clear to him. I’m sure this scene and a few others may be be disturbing to some young children and their active minds and imaginations. There are plenty of teachable moments throughout.
I’m glad I watched Coco. It left me sobbing on my couch long after the credits stopped scrolling, but I still consider it a feel good movie. I thought about my mother, who’s always on my mind, even in situations one wouldn’t think so. Due to framed pictures of her holding me as a child interspersed on my bookshelf, I see her face daily, not only in my mind’s eye. I remember her.