There's a moment at the beginning of the trailer for Pixar's Coco where the movie's 12-year-old lead character, Miguel, is playing guitar while entranced by his hero, Ernesto de la Cruz, performing on TV. The movie idol is a sweet talking musician who strums a guitar while wooing a lady friend, saying, "You know that feeling, like there's a song in the air, and it's playing just for you?" before launching into a beautiful, traditional style Mexican love ballad. That song is in the air, guys, and, for a lot of people, it'll definitely feel as though it's playing just for them. Appearing less than a minute into the teaser, the song from the Coco trailer is evocative and sublime, but it's also powerfully significant.
Not only does the song proudly embrace and celebrate Mexican culture, but it also perfectly sets up Miguel's journey in Pixar's Coco. And, if this first trailer is anything to go by, then that journey looks to be the most visceral, enchanting, and unique Pixar adventure yet. Featuring the lyrics, "A feeling so close you will reach out and touch it / I never knew I could want something so much / But it's true," Ernesto's song appears to speak directly to Miguel, whose love for music takes him on an unexpected trip through the Land Of The Dead.
As the trailer beautifully shows, music is Miguel's tactile connection not only to his own feelings, but also in connecting him to his family and their overall history.
Set in Mexico during the annual Día de Muertos festival, Pixar's Coco features an all Latinx cast, marking it as an important American movie not just for the movie studio, but also for mainstream cinema overall. Not only is the inclusive casting worth celebrating, but it's clear even just from this first trailer that Coco is a film entrenched in positive portrayals of Latinx culture, with a young, Latinx hero at the forefront of it. Which is still, sadly, a rarity to see in mainstream, modern movies.
On top of that, the teaser looks respectful of the culture, and thankfully free of any tiresome stereotypes. It's something that Coco director Lee Unkrich (who also directed Toy Story 3 and Monster's University) told Entertainment Weekly that he felt a massive responsibility to do correctly, saying:
The day John Lasseter [Pixar's chief creative officer] gave the thumbs up for this movie, I immediately felt this huge weight drop onto my shoulders because I knew that we were doing something different than we had ever made at the studio and that for the first time, we were going to have this enormous responsibility to do right by this culture and not lapse into stereotype or cliché.
There's a clear effort for cultural authenticity that abounds within every frame of the teaser, and it's a joyous thing to behold.
While Pixar may have explored the imagination bursting plains of Monstropolis (in Monsters, Inc.), the Great Barrier Reef (in Finding Nemo), and the everyday terrains of anthropomorphic toys and cars (in Toy Story and Cars, respectively), it's terrifically exciting to see the studio exploring stories that aren't inherently American. There's a vast wealth of stories and folklore to be explored beyond the U.S that could celebrate the cultural identities of other places, and it's beyond exciting to witness those tales, and histories, finally being delved into.
Not only does the movie look refreshing and unique for it, but damn if I'm not going to be packing an entire box of tissues for the movie when it comes to theaters on Nov. 22.