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Even by the standards of Pixar, Coco is one powerful film. Here are some reasons that show just why.

The Movie

  • For starters, the film's animation is spectacular, given it's a Pixar film, but the Land of the Dead itself is especially beautifully animated and detailed. Lee Unkrich's commentary shown before some releases of the film reveals that the full image shot of Land of the Dead is a 12 layered image featuring over 3000 unique buildings and over seven million individual light sources ranging from flickering candles to modern day electric lighting with dozens of different shades for every color of the rainbow represented.
  • While banning all music may have been throwing the baby out with the bathwater, Mamá Imelda (Miguel's great-great-grandmother) is still a character with a lot of awesomely admirable qualities: after her husband left her and their daughter, she took steps to secure her family’s future almost immediately—she learned to make shoes and started a very successful business that went on to last for several generations, and she did it all while (presumably) raising Coco as a single parent.
    • In the narration, after we see how her accomplishments with both her business and her family have thrived, Imelda proudly crosses her arms and looks at the audience with a determined can-do smile, as though wordlessly telling them "I did all this, and don't you forget it."
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    • Fridge-Awesome: Even if she had known her husband had died before returning, she would've done a fine job providing for herself and Coco in his absence.
  • The fact that Miguel very likely taught himself to play guitar and sing with only Ernesto's videos as a guide. When in his secret shrine, he watches very closely so he can copy Ernesto's strumming and get the correct notes.
  • The visual effect when Miguel plays Ernesto's guitar, unknowingly sending himself into the Spirit realm. (It's even the image for this page.)
    • Second time watching this, the context makes it more epic: This is the defining moment where Ernesto's lie (about being a talented musician) comes to a head. If he was the rightful owner of that guitar and the songs he sang, Miguel wouldn't be stealing from his great-great-grandfather then. But fate has spoken: By cursing himself, Miguel has unknowingly set off a domino effect where he will learn the truth about his great-great-grandfather.
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    • The Foreshadowing page also points out that Miguel invoking the curse unwittingly disrupts the marigold path leading to and from Ernesto's coffin. It's as though the movie is epically foretelling how Miguel will be the reason Ernesto loses the fame he wanted so badly: the visual looks like Miguel has destroyed his only bridge to the living world with but a single strum of that guitar.
  • Héctor's attempt to cross the Marigold bridge is this when you consider its more tragic context: Héctor has been trying year after year to see his daughter one last time, despite nobody putting up a photo of him. This is comparable to Odysseus trying to reach his home and family in Ithaca in the span of 20 years, only much longer. Although, that's not to say it hasn't made him desperate somehow. But anyone else in his position would've given up hope a long time ago. This establishes his status as a Determinator and a Papa Wolf.
  • Miguel getting praise from the Frida Kahlo is awesome on its own. And if you pay attention to the opening act they were rehearsing when Frida asked for Miguel's opinion, Frida actually did incorporate Miguel's ideas and the inspiration she got from the conversation!
  • When you realize just how disdainful Héctor is about what Ernesto did to "Remember Me", the fact that he was able to smirk slyly at Miguel, having proved that the song was too popular for a music competition, instead of cringing at the way the contestants were butchering the song, is awesome in its own right. The guy knows how to validate an argument and pull a poker face.
  • Miguel's performance at the Land of the Dead’s talent show. After years of playing guitar in secret, he can finally show what he can do. There were previous hints that he can play the guitar really well, but nothing in the movie sets you up for how well he can SING. It’s strongly hinted he wins the top prize, but runs away as soon as he’s done so officially the award goes to another group, but when they meet Miguel later on, they immediately acknowledge and praise him. It’s also awesome to see Héctor dancing around with Miguel on stage, probably the first time in a while that he was able to just have fun and be his musical self.
  • When it seems he may never get Ernesto's attention, Miguel goes up to the highest point and lets out his now-trademark grito. It even silences the party a bit.
  • Ernesto rescuing Miguel after he falls into the pool is rather epic. Too bad the guy turns out to be a sociopathic murderer later on.
  • Héctor succeeding where Miguel failed and managing to sneak into Ernesto's tower, under a disguise no less.
  • Once Héctor figures out that he was murdered by Ernesto, he proceeds to tackle him in anger. Ernesto is seemingly more muscular (in a manner of speaking) than his "old friend", but he's instantly overpowered by the enraged Héctor.
    • Also counts as Héctor's Papa Wolf moment.
    • What's more, it counts as a parallel for Ernesto's movie. In the movie, the villain attempts to poison the hero note  who, when he discovers he was nearly poisoned, tackles the villain and throttles him. Here, (while he wasn't so lucky as to avoid getting poisoned) Héctor beats up Ernesto just like the hero beat up the villain.
  • Dante's reveal as a spirit animal all along counts when you realize it's both a figurative and literal case of "earning your wings".
  • Around the climax, Miguel's plan is to fetch Héctor's picture and only then be sent back to the Land of the Living. Every member of the Rivera family has a flower petal so they may readily give Miguel their blessing when the time comes. Imelda especially stands out for trying it twice despite being in trouble both times. Everything for her family indeed.
  • Imelda smacking Ernesto in the head with her shoe twice after learning he killed Héctor and because he tried to kill Miguel.
    Imelda: That's for murdering the love of my life! And that is for trying to murder my grandson!
    • It's also cathartic that, after generations of wrongfully blaming her husband, she's finally unleashing her wrath on the very man blameworthy for making her a widow and single mother.
      • Speaking of the shoes: Imelda uses a shoe to stamp on Ernesto's foot to steal the picture back. Presumably this is a shoe she has made herself. Talk about well made!
  • During the chase for Hector's picture, Ernesto sends some of his goons after the deceased Rivera family. But does that stop them? Nope! The entire Rivera family fights back! Special mention goes to Papa Julio, who takes a couple of the guards down, despite being the shortest and the most timid out of all the deceased Rivera family.
    • Adding to that, the twins get heavily outnumbered by the guards early on. Their response? A quick, confident smirk at each other, then Oscar takes his brother’s arms and wields them like nunchucks, and proceeds to deliver a Curb-Stomp Battle to the goons. Later, when the rest of the family goes after Ernesto, the brothers stay behind to hold the line against the remaining security forces.
  • The deceased Rivera family exposing Ernesto in front of a whole stadium of him not only being a fraud, but a murderer. It's very satisfying to watch the crowd turn on him.
    • Imelda helping to save her husband and their great-great-grandson by singing and performing music, something she swore off during both her life and afterlife. She dances and twirls out of the reach of the approaching security guards while singing in front of thousands of people when she was clearly alarmed by the idea of being on stage. She managed to keep the picture out of Ernesto's reach, too, and, as if smacking him with her shoe wasn't enough, she stomps on his foot hard enough to escape.
      • In a villainous example, Ernesto thinks quickly and joins Imelda for a duet, making it look like All Part of the Show while getting close enough to swipe the picture.
    • What's more, if the picture of Héctor symbolizes Imelda's heart, her taking it back after Ernesto steals it represents what a strong-willed woman she is to not fall for a scoundrel like de la Cruz. Ernesto can make any woman fall in love with him, but not Imelda. As demonstrated, if he ever tried to steal her heart, she'd only steal it back.
  • While all the music in the movie is stunning, Mamá Imelda and later De La Cruz singing "La Llorona" is incredible. It's a legitimately great cover of the classic song.
  • During the Sunrise Spectacular, Miguel defiantly calls out Ernesto on how the latter is a coward and a murderer who stole a real musician's songs. This speaks volumes of how confident the boy has grown since he last saw Ernesto. Back at de la Cruz's mansion, Miguel was unwilling to believe his hero killed somebody. But now, he's not afraid to stand up to him. And the awesome part: he doesn't even know that people are watching. His words are powerful and genuine because of it.
    • In a way parallel to Imelda being angry at Hector, Miguel has vented all his frustrated feelings on the people who were only trying to help him (Hector, Dante, Imelda). But for once, this is where he finally vents all his anger and scorn on just the right person.
      Miguel: (Angrily, to Ernesto) Hector's the real musician! You're just the guy who murdered him and stole his songs!
      • Especially in the novelization. For context, Miguel's family has always believed music tears family apart, whereas the shoe-making business brought them together, all while being ignorant about what did really happen about Hector and how the music ban really affected Coco into the point of worsening her dementia. Hector, on the other hand, advises that the purpose of music is to bring people closer, and Miguel's experiences with him left him contemplative about becoming a musician for popularity's sake like what his idol Ernesto always espouses. Not to mention, that particular purpose is also how Hector is saved in the end by having Coco becoming lucid again upon hearing the familiar strumming of guitar and her favorite lullaby being sung by her descendant. Here's where the boy speaks the truth when he confronts Ernesto, now finally armed with facts and applying wisdom to his reasoning against the very person who played him and his family stupid for almost a century that it almost feels cathartic to see Miguel finally directing his ire to the right person:
  • Pepita rescuing Miguel from falling to his death, and then immediately going after Ernesto.
  • Rosita and Victoria are the ones who expose Ernesto by noticing a camera pointing at him and turning it on so every one of his vile words and actions are broadcast live to the audience. Clever girls, especially when you consider that they're likely not that familiar with such modern technology.
  • Upon seeing Ernesto throw Miguel to his death, the audience starts jeering at him the instant he comes on stage. They are letting him know that although he's a good singer and a great actor, not one of them condones that he stole his songs from a real musician, murdered said-musician, and threw a living kid to his death.
    • Even if the audience doesn't believe Ernesto killed his best friend and stole his songs, watching him throw a child to his death definitely made them turn their backs against him.
    • At one point, he tries to get the orchestra to start playing again, only for the conductor to snap his baton in two and drop the pieces, all the while maintaining a Death Glare.
  • Pepita is a crowning moment of awesome. Her mere presence, the way she carries herself, her design, everything about her is awesome. Imelda is one tough bird to have a spirit guide that awesome.
  • Dante helping rescue Miguel from falling to his death. He struggles to keep Miguel in the air, and ends up dropping him, but it's just long enough for Pepita to swoop in.
  • Similar to his fate in life, Ernesto getting a bell dropped on him near the end of the movie. And There Was Much Rejoicing from the audience.
  • When you think about it, Mamá Coco has a small, quiet crowning moment all her own. For 96 years, she remembered Héctor. She was obviously just a little kid when her dad left, and all those years, Coco had nothing but a lullaby he sang her note , letters he sent her, and a small picture of him to remember him by. And that's assuming she got to take the last two items out of their hiding place regularly. As for the lullaby? She could only remember it in her head after Imelda banished music. Even when Mamá Coco had dementia, she still held on to his memory. It was only during the last year of her life that she was starting to truly forget him, and it was thanks to her great-grandson, Miguel, playing "Remember me" that she recalled her beloved father so clearly. In her own small way, Coco saved her father's life (well, his afterlife at least).
    • Héctor explains at one point that it doesn't count to get to know the dead once they died. Someone that personally knew them needs to remember them and tell their stories to others who will do the same. This is exactly what happens at the end once Miguel triggers Coco's memory of her father and she starts talking about him, resulting in him being permanently saved from the final death.
    • Adding on to that, she still kept the poems Héctor gave to her, which were his songs that Ernesto stole from him after poisoning him. So, not only did Mamá Coco save her father's (after)life, she also simultaneously gave him the deserved recognition for his work and revealed Ernesto as a murdering fraud.
  • The Catharsis Factor when Héctor posthumously receives all the fame and recognition and remembrance he was denied for years. He even gets his own little museum. At least he had one family member (Coco) to remember him, whereas Ernesto has neither a family (presumably), nor will he keep the fame he (literally) killed for - his gravestone sported a handmade sign reading "Forget You!" on the Dia de los Muertos the next year.
  • The fact that Coco lived to be 100 years old before she died. When you think about it, not many people reach such a ripe old age. This is also a definite proof of Imelda's dedication to her family as well, if by her example they took care of her daughter long after she was gone.