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Pixar’s COCO – Why We Love it PLUS Bonus Artist Interview

Written by: | Published: March 03, 2018 | Updated: June 26, 2023

Disney Pixar’s Coco opened in theaters just in time for family gathering and holiday feasts and today I’m sharing why we love COCO. This animated film is definitely making it to our favorite Disney Movies list! The timing couldn’t be any more perfect! This is a heart-warming and emotionally surprising animated film, perfect for family togetherness.  Disney Pixar's COCO

Disney Pixar’s COCO

A Look at Disney Pixar’s COCO

COCO is a heartfelt journey of a young boy looking to find lost family. It’s full of unexpected moments, fun-loving characters and scenery I really would LOVE to walk through myself.

When the movie first announced I couldn’t figure out why a “Day of the Dead” themed movie was opening mid-November. Now I understand.. it’s not about the celebration of the Dia de los Muertos as much as it’s about the celebration of family, heritage and appreciating family history.

In addition to seeing the movie, I had a chance to talk to the Director of Lighting. Keep reading for all the inspiring goodness.

HIDDEN TALENT — In Disney•Pixar’s “Coco,” Miguel (voice of newcomer Anthony Gonzalez), who struggles against his family’s generations-old ban on music, creates a secret space where he can play his guitar and soak up the on-screen talent of his idol, Ernesto de la Cruz (voice of Benjamin Bratt). Directed by Lee Unkrich (“Toy Story 3”), co-directed by Adrian Molina (story artist “Monsters University”) and produced by Darla K. Anderson (“Toy Story 3”), Disney•Pixar’s “Coco” opens in U.S. theaters on Nov. 22, 2017. ©2017 Disney•Pixar. All Rights Reserved.

Reasons why we Love COCO

We love this family friend movie for so many reasons, it’s definitely going on our DVD must have list. I hope you and your family love it too! I asked my family what they loved most about COCO.

  1. COCO is an original Story. The story is inspired by real traditions and cultural ideas but the tale being told is all original. What I love most about Disney movies is how art is the story telling. You could close your eyes and listen to the entire movie and it would be good. But it’s the view in front of you, the details they include, the visuals that are so carefully thought out that really create the greatness.
  2. Surprises throughout the movie. There are so many twists and turns in this story, we didn’t know what to expect next. The surprises were fabulous!
  3. The characters are fun and engaging and full of all different aspects you find in families. It was fun to see all the different roles and how they are portrayed.
  4. This is an emotional movie. We were happy, laughing, anxious, curious to find out what’s next, tearing up and starting all over again. This is a really fun movie to watch – the kids loved it too.
  5. Art and theming are breathtaking. It seems with every Disney movie, the details are more intricate and the styling is more beautiful. I always enjoy the art details of these movies and COCO did not disappoint. The film includes beautiful, bright colors and textures – it’s eye-candy for the art detail love.
  6. Focus on hispanic culture and tradition. Living in Colorado, I know a little of some hispanic traditions – we love our Mexican food (Colorado-style of course) and there are various hispanic celebrations we enjoy. COCO introduced me to some ideas about various traditions I was unfamiliar with and I left the theater curious to learn more. I love it when I learn new things from a movie!
  7. It’s all about family. Every Disney movie has a base messaging to share. COCO seemed to focus most on valuing tradition while valuing yourself. Family is important and we each have our own important role to play – that’s what makes each family so special. Of course, a bit of “value your talents” seems to be a regular theme as well, and one of my favorites.
  8. Dante is so funny! The side kick in this movie is Dante, a xolo (aka Xoloitzcuintli dog). He’s goofy, protective and even funnier when he can fly. I have a coloring page featuring Dante for you on this page.
    GIVE THE DOG A BONE — An unlikely star of Disney•Pixar’s “Coco,” Dante is a Xolo dog—short for Xoloitzcuintle—the national dog of Mexico. Nearly hairless and missing some teeth, Dante has trouble keeping his tongue in his mouth. But he’s a loyal companion to Miguel, an aspiring musician who hopes to follow in the footsteps of his idol Ernesto de la Cruz. Featuring the voice of newcomer Anthony Gonzalez as Miguel and Benjamin Bratt as de la Cruz, “Coco” opens in theaters Nov. 22, 2017. ©2017 Disney•Pixar. All Rights Reserved.


  9. COCO is a conversation starter. The concept of the after-life and what happens to family “on the other side” is really well thought out in this movie. There’s not a ton of time spent on the concept of “those who have passed”, yet the entire movie is based on this concept of death and afterlife in combination with those that are living. I think Pixar did a great job of balancing the serious, tradition with a light-hearted attitude about the concept. They focused on the importance of remembering family and togetherness which I really appreciate.
  10. COCO is a bit of a mystery. Mild Spoiler – you don’t realize it at first, but this movie is packed with clues to lead you through what you think you know and then you don’t know and then you realize you need a new answer. My kids, a week later, are still going through clues they didn’t know where clues, just to see if they could have picked up on the ending sooner.
  11. It’s magic with a whole new view. Every time Disney creates a new story there’s a new angle featuring a new level of detail, this is the magic to me. The amount of time the team takes to “get it right” is inspiring all on it’s own. Add in a beautiful outcome, we can’t help but love it. The story, the art, the music all come together so well. Not once did I think “that voice doesn’t fit that body”… or “why did they do that?”.  Instead I found myself thinking “wow, I’d like to go there” or “I wonder if that’s what it’s really like.”.

Note for younger viewers: Some kids may struggle with this movie due to the concept of losing a family members . The topic does come up and after watching the movie I heard some of the kid kids questioning or even crying for their own family. I feel it brings up an opportunity to talk about the subject, but for some kids it might be a little much.

COCO (Pictured) – FAMILY BONDS – In Disney•Pixar’s “Coco,” Miguel (voice of Anthony Gonzalez) has a very special relationship with his great-great-grandmother, Mamá Coco (voice of Ana Ofelia Murguía). Directed by Lee Unkrich and co-directed by Adrian Molina, Disney•Pixar’s “Coco,” opens in U.S. theaters on Nov. 22, 2017. ©2017 Disney•Pixar. All Rights Reserved.

Do you know… why the film is titled COCO? It’s a question my kids keep asking… oh how I love when they have things to ponder. What do you think the answer is?

Disney/Pixar’s COCO is now available on DVD and Blu-Ray

Get your copy while it’s available to purchase! Here’s a few easy access links to buy right from Amazon.


Crafting COCO
A look at the behind-the-scenes – what kind of research went on for the making of COCO.


Art and Science – inspiration from a Disney Artist

I had a chance to not only see COCO in the theater with my family, but I also had the opportunity to sit down and chat with Danielle Feinberg, Director of Photography – Lighting for COCO. Originally from Boulder, Colorado, she has been with Pixar since 1997 working on number of their top feature films including Finding Nemo and Brave. Danielle was a joy to talk with. She shared ideas of art, striving to reach your goals, combining science and art and how girls can be geeks too. All the things I love! There were 4 of us in the room, and the conversation was fantastic.

One of the biggest take-aways for me was: Pursue your passion! 

Here’s a look at the topics we covered.

What does a lighting artist do?

They add the “light” to a scene. Imagery goes from a flat view and comes to life when the lighting is added.

I can imagine – lighting, right? But I really wasn’t sure. What I didn’t think about is how much impact the lighting of an animated movie makes. Think of all that “mood lighting” in a traditional live action movie. The same effect takes place when the lighting is added or adjusted in an animated film. The bonus, when lighting animation, you can add all the extra “magic” we love in Disney movies.

Where did it all start?

For Danielle, starting out as a kid in a small, private school in Boulder, Colorado was full of learning opportunity. She loved science and had the chance to explore a variety of activities – encouraged to explore her own ideas. She first discovered her love for computers, coding and design with the LOGO turtle. Do you know the one? Writing computer lines of code to create on-screen designs with a little triangle cursor “turtle” as it moved around the computer monitor. This was my first exposure to computer art as well, so it was fun to hear where Danielle took this experience toward her career.

How did you get started with Disney?

She went on to Harvard and combined her love for science and art. She had the opportunity to see some short film clips – the beginning of Pixar’s computer graphics and she was hooked. That was the first time in animation film creation that we saw what computers could do for this medium.

THE LAND OF THE DEAD – In Disney•Pixar’s “Coco,” aspiring musician Miguel (voice of Anthony Gonzalez) finds himself in the Land of the Dead—a rich and vibrant community featuring bridges of marigold petals. Directed by Lee Unkrich, co-directed by Adrian Molina and produced by Darla K. Anderson, Disney•Pixar’s “Coco” opens in U.S. theaters on Nov. 22, 2017. ©2017 Disney•Pixar. All Rights Reserved.

“Follow your own voice is more important than following the pack.” Danielle Feinberg, COCO – Director of Lighting

What’s your Favorite Disney Movie?

I think this is a hard question for anyone. Danielle said she loves so many of the movies for different reasons. But right now her favorite is definitely COCO. Not for the obvious reason that it’s the most recent she’s bee a part of, but because of the amount of detail and pure magic the team was able to execute in this film. You don’t have to look hard to see it in this movie… the mood and environment created in the scenery alone is top notch! The entire movie is full of twinkling lights and glowing scenes… it really is a sight to see.

Advice from Danielle

Danielle talked about how tough it is to pursue roles not always common for girls and the perseverance required to reach your goals . Science is full of opportunities for women and it can absolutely be combined with creativity. Her biggest suggestion is to “find your tribe”. Find those like minded people that really support you and can help encourage you along your way.

Danielle is a supporter of empowering girls to get into the sciences. Encouraging girls and women to explore STEM/STEAM programs and see where the opportunities ahead will take you.

I never thought of science and art as a hand-in-hand combination. Yet, Danielle reminded me that every day, as we create art with a computer, we are in fact playing in both realms. I love this perspective.

What’s your favorite crayon color? (question inspired by my friend Carolina from 30 Minute Crafts)

Not a question she expected, after a moment of thinking, Danielle said “right now, intense purple and marigold orange”. – I wonder where that inspiration came from…

NAME THAT TUNE – In Disney•Pixar’s “Coco,” Miguel’s love of music ultimately leads him to the Land of the Dead where he teams up with charming trickster Hector. “Coco” features an original score from Oscar®-winning composer Michael Giacchino, the original song “Remember Me” by Kristen Anderson-Lopez and Robert Lopez, and additional songs co-written by Germaine Franco and co-director/screenwriter Adrian Molina. Also part of the team is musical consultant Camilo Lara of the music project Mexican Institute of Sound. In theaters on Nov. 22, 2017. © 2017 Disney•Pixar. All Rights Reserved.

More from Danielle

Check out Danielle Feinberg’s Ted Talk or her presentation at Made with Code to learn more from this inspiring artist. Give her a shout out on Twitter and let her know what you think of COCO.

Thank you Danielle for the opportunity to learn mow about this fantastic film and contribution to make magic happen with science and art!

More About COCO
Despite his family’s baffling generations-old ban on music, Miguel (voice of newcomer Anthony Gonzalez) dreams of becoming an accomplished musician like his idol, Ernesto de la Cruz (voice of Benjamin Bratt). Desperate to prove his talent, Miguel finds himself in the stunning and colorful Land of the Dead following a mysterious chain of events. Along the way, he meets charming trickster Hector (voice of Gael García Bernal), and together, they set off on an extraordinary journey to unlock the real story behind Miguel’s family history. Directed by Lee Unkrich (“Toy Story 3”), co-directed by Adrian Molina (story artist “Monsters University”) and produced by Darla K. Anderson (“Toy Story 3”), Disney•Pixar’s “Coco” opens in U.S. theaters on Nov. 22, 2017. Like us on Facebook,, and follow us on Twitter,, and

Fun Disney/Pixar’s COCO Products – books, toys and t-shirts

Disney/Pixar’s COCO  Coloring Pages

Download and print free COCO Coloring Pages

Disney Pixar’s COCO is a fun, vibrant animated movie for the whole family. We laughed, we cried, we enjoyed the whole film! I hope you have a chance to see this entertaining movie with your family too!

Come back by after you’ve seen COCO and tell me what you think!

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Jen is Passionate about Creativity. She is the owner and "doodle in charge" of JGoode Designs, a Denver based design studio. She is an illustrator, mixed media artist and creative lifestyle blogger. Jen has been a creative professional since 1998 but says she's been an artist since she was old enough to eat glue.

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