The big reveal here is that Coco will be Pixar’s most musical animated movie yet; although it probably won’t be as full-on as Disney films like Moana or Frozen, the concept still promises several in-world songs. The studio’s previous films have typically avoided using proper musical numbers, so that alone promises something different. Beyond just the audio elements, though, like many of Pixar’s recent original movies – an octogenarian flying a house to Venezuela, the anthropomorphized emotions in a preteen girl – the core concept is suitably away-from-norm, dealing as it does with a totally different culture to what many American audiences will be used to.
When he spoke to Entertainment Weekly after treating that aspect of the film correctly, Unkrich had this to say:
“It was important to us from day one that we had an all-Latino cast. It focused us, and we ended up with a fantastic mix of people — some from Mexico and some from Los Angeles.”
This focus on respectful authenticity and an exploration that goes deeper into Mexican culture than similarly focused movies – such a 2014’s The Book of Life – suggests a unique, justified movie. Unkrich also revealed that the long development period (Coco has been in the works pretty much since Toy Story 3 hit) led to a big casting change:
“We actually had another kid doing scratch for Miguel who’s now 17 or 18, which should tell you how long we’ve been working on the movie, but his voice changed long ago, and it was actually in trying to find a new voice for the scratch that we found Anthony.”
Pixar has a great track record with casting their child parts, prioritizing the actors’ fit over a star name – John Morris played a growing Andy across all three Toy Story films, Mary Gibbs really was just a toddler when she recorded Boo for Monsters Inc. – and it sounds that that tradition is still alive and well with the recasting of Gonzalez.
With Cars 3 looking more emotional than expected and Coco now revealed as a very exciting entry in the studio’s canon, 2017 is looking set to be a big year for Pixar.