Focus on the Family’s movie review show “Plugged In” recently warned Christian parents about Disney’s hit film “Coco.”
“Plugged In” host Cheryl Wilhelmi complimented parts of the film, but added:
“Coco” serves almost as a Sunday school lesson of sorts in its detailed description of a spiritual world view that is at odds with Christian teaching.
In the animated film, the lead character of “Coco,” a boy named Miguel, enters the “Land of the Dead” to discover why his grandfather disappeared after pursuing a music career.
In Mexico, where the film is set, there is a “Day of the Dead,” also known as “Dia de Muertos,” on Nov. 1–2.
Mexican families honor their deceased ancestors with gifts because they believe the dead folks are awakened to share celebrations with their loved ones. The dead folks who do not have a relative recalling them go to the “Land of the Dead.”
The New York Times notes:
Pixar put extra care into ensuring the movie was culturally accurate, and audiences and critics responded strongly: The movie received an A-plus grade from ticket buyers in CinemaScore exit polls and a 96 percent fresh rating on Rotten Tomatoes, the review aggregation site.
“Plugged In” movie reviewer Adam Holtz wrote:
Coco left me feeling conflicted. It’s a typical Pixar movie in many respects: vivid, imaginative, rollicking, winsome and tender. And the filmmakers never waver in their focus on the importance of family.
But is it possible to focus on the family … too much? And the surprising answer here is, I think, yes.
Coco unpacks a theological system with Aztec roots that arguably steps over the line from honoring the family to worshiping it. The living bring gifts for the dead. The dead quietly return to briefly see the living for one special day.
The presentation of this belief system is no doubt touching and beautifully rendered. But the beliefs we see earnestly depicted here nevertheless remain at loggerheads with orthodox Christian teaching in long list of significant ways. There’s no sense of judgement or accountability for anyone’s sinful choices, as evidenced by the fact that some of those who “enjoy” the best afterlife in the Land of the Dead have perpetrated horrible things in the land of the living. And eventually, most folks fade into nothing when they’re forgotten by the living—a grim, hopeless prospect indeed. Finally, Coco never grapples at all with the question of God’s connection to this realm of the dead, either.
So despite this film’s eye-popping beauty and its heartwarming moments, Pixar’s latest still packages a pagan worldview that’s in sharp conflict with Christian beliefs. That’s an issue that should prompt parents to pause and consider how best to deal with it if you’ve been planning on packing up the family and heading off to multiplex to see Coco.