Disney Pixar's latest offering, Coco, only hit theaters Wednesday but in Mexico, the film has already raked in $48 million at the box office, making it the country's highest-ever grossing film, according to Forbes. And there's good reason for it, too: the animated pic that celebrates Mexico's Día de los Muertos tradition has been lauded by critics, who have praised it for being a beautiful story of self-discovery, family, and culture that both adults and children will enjoy. But is Coco appropriate for kids under 5? Parents of youngsters might be eager to bring their little ones (my 4-year-olds are definitely looking forward to it), but there are a few things you may want to know before buying your tickets.
Coco has officially been rated PG in the United States, which means that some of the material might not be appropriate for all children. Specifically, what sets the film apart from G films — appropriate for any age group — are the movie's so-called "thematic elements," aka, aspects of the movie that might be objectionable, but don't fit into any predetermined categories, like violence or nudity.
In Coco, the parental guidance suggestion likely comes down to the film being so centered around the concept of death — main character Miguel literally ends up going on an adventure to the Land of the Dead, where he encounters his deceased relatives, who all look like semi-creepy skeletons. And there's also the added challenge that Miguel ultimately has to find a way home before sunrise, or else he will stay trapped in the Land of the Dead forever (ack). That could understandably feel unsettling to some young children, and Common Sense Media's review of the film noted that, like most Pixar films, there are also some heart-wrenching moments that might upset sensitive viewers (particularly if they've experienced the loss of loved one). Similarly, Screen Rant advises that parts of the film could be "a bit dark for very young children," but otherwise gives the film a glowing review, calling the release "a story full of heart and drama following characters that the audience can’t help but love like their own family."
Other reviews are similarly positive: Coco has a 95-percent rating on Rotten Tomatoes, and Variety has praised the film as being a vibrant celebration of Mexican culture — noting, importantly, that Coco is also Pixar's first film to feature non-white characters in prominent, non-sidekick, roles. The film also has an all-Latinx cast, according to Entertainment Weekly, and according to The New York Times, the predominantly English-speaking characters "slip in and out of untranslated Spanish," throughout the film, pushing back against the usual approach to foreign characters in American movies, who somehow speak entirely in English despite the fact that they are obviously in a country with an entirely different native tongue.
In other words, it sounds like Coco is set to join the lineup of Pixar home runs — a well-made film that both parents and kids can enjoy (which, let's be honest, is a big deal if you've ever paid actual money to sit in the theatre and watch something that only preschoolers could ever find even remotely interesting or funny). What's more is that it reflects a story about Mexican culture that doesn't rely on stereotypes, or a version of Mexican tradition told through the gaze of white Americans — and it also sounds like it might make you shed a tear or two (I am already packing tissues in my purse).
If your kids are under 5 though, it's worth bearing in mind that it could be a bit scary or heavy depending on the child, so use your own judgment. Otherwise though, Coco seems like a great choice for a holiday weekend family movie outing.
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