by John

COCO, the 19th title from Pixar Animation Studios is again proof that the animation giant is the best in the industry.


Based on an original idea by Lee Unkrich (Toy Story 3), the film takes place during the Mexican holiday of the Day of the Dead. Directed by Unkrich and co-directed by Adrian Molina (a screenwriter who has worked on Monsters University and The Good Dinosaur), our hero is a 12-year-old boy Miguel (adorably animated, of course) who wants nothing more than to be an accomplished musician like his idol Ernesto de la Cruz. The problem is, his family has put a ban on music for generations.

(No) thanks to a series of misadventures, Miguel finds himself in the breathtakingly colourful Land of the Dead. He makes friends with a charming conman Hector, and the two embark on a journey to uncover the truth behind Miguel’s family history.

It is almost impossible for a Pixar animation to disappoint. And like the movies before COCO, there are tons of fun facts and Easter eggs to look out for. We venture into the Land of the Dead to see what interesting references to Mexican history and Pixar films we can find.

Pizza delivery and a clownfish named Nemo

The Pizza Planet delivery truck has appeared in almost every Pixar movie since Toy Story (1995). Here, it whizzes past Miguel’s house as he opens a window.

As Miguel heads to the marketplace, he dances at a stall selling alebrije figurines. Alebrijes are mythical creatures that combine animals which act as spirit guides in the Land of the Dead. There is a figurine on the table clearly shaped like a clownfish, a reference to Finding Nemo (2003). Watch this scene to catch the two blink-and-you-miss-it moments.


A113 was the classroom number used by character animation students at the California Institute of the Arts. It is now an Easter egg created by its alumni and has appeared in nearly every Pixar movie. In Cars 3, it is the office number for Nathan Fillion's Sterling. Here, it is the room number for the Bureau of Family Grievances in the Land of the Dead.

Go Latino!

COCO is the first-ever film with a nine-figure budget to feature an all-Latino cast, with a cost of $175–200 million. Benjamin Bratt (Despicable Me 2), Gael García Bernal (A Little Bit of Heaven), Anthony Gonzalez, Edward James Olmos and Gabriel Iglesias are just some of the names in the impressive cast ensemble.

 Land of gold

During the filmmakers’ research trips to Mexico, they found out that locals believe in using colour and aroma of marigold petals to guide the spirit of a family’s loved one home during the Day of the Dead. In the film, the beautiful flowers are the only living plants in the Land of the Dead, nicely setting it apart from the Land of The Living. The clever marketing folks also themed the movie’s premiere events with marigold petals.


In the movie, Miguel’s loyal pet Dante is a Xolo dog (short for Xoloitzcuintli). Also known as the national dog of Mexico which has roots in the ancient Mesoamerican civilization, this breed often has missing teeth which cause their tongues to hang out.

Awards galore

Needless to say, the movie received crucial acclaim for its animation, vocal performances, music, and most importantly – an emotional story. It was also well-received for its authenticity to Mexican culture. Besides being chosen by the National Board of Review as the best animated film of 2017, it also swept the 45th Annie Awards with 11 trophies, winning in every category in which it was nominated. The list doesn’t stop there – after earning nominations at the 90th Academy Awards, it took home the Best Animated Feature prize at the 71st British Academy Film Awards and the 75th Golden Globe Awards.

We will remember you

The song “Remember Me” is central to the movie’s story, bringing the characters across generations together. After winning an Oscar for the wildly popular “Let it Go” from Frozen (2013), songwriters Kristen Anderson-Lopez and Robert Lopez had to come up with different versions for the movie. Different versions were also recorded by international artistes from various regions.

Movie versions performed by Benjamin Bratt, Gael García Bernal and Anthony Gonzalez:


Mandarin end-credits version performed by Jam Hsiao


Cantonese end-credits version performed by Andy Hui: