Summary: Aspiring musician Miguel, confronted with his family’s ancestral ban on music, enters the Land of the Dead to work out the mystery.
Cast and Characters. There are a lot of characters in this film, but I’m not going to go over all of them. Just the two main characters and some of the supporting because of their roles in the film. Just know that all of the characters are bright, colorful and likable!
Anthony Gonzalez as Miguel Rivera. He is a 12-year-old aspiring musician. He feels out-of-place in his family of shoemakers. He doesn’t want to be stuck in this mundane process that his family is stuck in. They have banned music and he doesn’t understand this, at least in a way that keeps him from loving music. Miguel wants to be a musician and he finds ways to protect his love. What I loved about Miguel is that he felt like a kid. He made his mistakes. He acts like a kid. When he decides to steal a guitar in order to play for the talent show, he faces the consequences of his actions… then he gets a second chance… and he steals the guitar again. That’s hilarious and so accurate. He is clever, he’s funny and determined. Miguel knows what he wants and he does what he can to go after it, and even as the story continues and things are discovered, he rolls with it. Anthony Gonzalez was great, he reminded me of Auli’i Cravalho as Moana in how she sat in her character, he did the same thing with Miguel. I really enjoyed his energy for this character. Plus, he has a great singing voice on him.
Gael García Bernal as Hector. He is a charming trickster in the Land of the Dead. When we first meet him, he’s trying to make it through customs (they have a whole system it’s great lol), by pretending to be a celebrity and it’s revealed that he tries to sneak over the bridge every year. So, when he meets Miguel, he enlists his help in order to actually make it over the bridge at some point. Hector is a charming character and a lot is revealed about him that turns him into a tragic character as well. He was probably my favorite character in the movie. At times he seems very selfish, or like he can’t be trusted and there’s more to him that makes him relatable and you can’t help but to feel bad for him. I’ve never seen Gael Garcia Bernal in anything, I saw one but I don’t remember him in it and it’s been so long, but I really liked his voice. He’s very charming and he helps Hector be likable and tragic at the same time. Also, he has a nice singing voice.
Benjamin Bratt as Ernesto de la Cruz. The most famous musician in the history of Mexico. He is also Miguel’s idol, he’s the reason why he wants to be a musician. He even inspires Miguel to build a guitar that looks just like his. He has many fans around the world, but his untimely death (lol it’s hilarious) puts him in the Land of the Dead, but he’s even more beloved there due to his charm and charisma. I definitely can’t give anything away with him, but it all makes sense once you watch the film. I like Benjamin Bratt and his voice is great for this character. The larger than life personality, the charisma, and even the ego, just works. Bratt only sings Remember Me in the film, while Antonio Sol does the singing at other times in the film.
Alanna Ubach as Mama Imelda. She is Miguel’s great-great-grandmother. The ban on music started with her. There is a lovely opening scene in which Miguel tells the story of her life and how her heart was broken. Due to her husband choosing music over her and their child (Coco), she dedicates her life to creating roots for her family. A shoemaking business. Mama Imelda is a businesswoman and she protects her family. Even when Miguel ends up in the Land of the Dead, she does whatever it takes to help him. Alanna Ubach (she was Maria in Sister Act 2: Back in the Habit and she’s in Legally Blonde) is great! I loved her voice for this character. She is just the right balance of maturity, fierce determination (Miguel obviously gets it from her) and love for her family. She has a great song during the climax of the film.
Other Characters. Most of the other characters are Miguel’s family. Most notably, Renee Victor as Abuelita Elena, she is Miguel’s grandmother and she takes after Mama Imelda in that she strongly enforces the ban on music. She’s funny and a bit extreme. Ana Ofelia Murguia as Mama Coco and she gives us a very emotional performance anytime Mama Coco actually speaks. She is Miguel’s great-grandmother. His parents, his family in the Land are all great and colorful characters!