What I Learned From Coco

Image result for coco movie

Hey!

I just watched the newly-released Pixar animation Coco. It was a great movie. A very, very great movie.

But you know what? I didn’t always think this way. Before I watched it, I rolled my eyes and thought, “Really?!” No doubt, I was biased. For years I’ve been waiting for a Big Hero 6 sequel, but life handed us what I thought was a story of a random Mexican boy who lands himself into some half-assed adventure in the land of skeletons. I didn’t see the point of this story at all! Heck, I was surprised the tomatometer was so high. I thought it was going to be a ripoff of that Book of Life movie.

I was so, so wrong.

Hey, we’re talking about the magic of Pixar here!  It can take any theme and turn it into a brilliant story. A trilogy about toys? Pfft, who know? But one of my most favorite movie trilogies ever, ever, ever! A story of a cute lonely robot called Wall-E? So cute, but not cloyingly so; and conveniently anthropomorphic while throwing you into a wild adventure where space merges with old-school romance. Cars? Hey, even that one had a great story to it! As an aspiring writer who notices those little elements, I can’t explain enough why I think Pixar storytelling is pulled off on such a professional level.

So I watched Coco. I laughed, I cried, I was mind-blown, and I was so inspired. And I was taught a valuable lesson: never underestimate Pixar ever again! Actually, I should’ve learned that ten years ago when Wall-E was released to Blockbuster.

“No, Papa, I don’t wanna watch a dumb movie about a dumb robot!” my 8-year-old self protested back then just as Pops bought the movie.

“Ohh, you’ll love it!” he responded cheerfully.

I grudged as we came home. I grudged as we reluctantly put in the CD into the drive. I grudged as the intro song came on…

By the end I didn’t have any gall left to grudge. Sis and I watched it 14,882 more times over the next year, it was that good.

Okay, maybe not that much.

But anyways.

While I was watching Coco, becoming more and more sucked in at every scene, I had a wild idea. This is great storytelling, right? So why don’t I do what all great storytellers do and break down the story bit by bit and see for myself how the plot comes together so intricately?

And by that, I mean outline everything.

You read that right. I know it’s in the context of a movie, people, so I know movie-storytelling is different from novels. But I could still learn a thing or two about the grand art of outlining. So if you watched Coco, grab a cup of tea — or two, since this’ll be a while — and feel free to read along. If you’re not the type of person who gets bored with reading/analyzing outlines.

But if you haven’t seen Coco, then SPOILER SPOILERS SPOILERS!!!

Save yourself the trouble and watch the movie first! Dig into it, enjoy it, gross-sob over your tamale dinner, because you’ll be shedding tears, from the tear-jerkers in all the right spots to the fact that such a beautiful thing as Pixar exists.

Now that we’ve got that out of the way, let’s transfer all my notes from paper…to here! Here we go!

Coco

Prologue

  • Setting the scene: We have a family of Mexican origin that loved to sing and dance. One day, the Papa and patriarch of the family leaves his family to make his fortune and see the world as an accomplished musician. The irate Mama Imelda, who feels betrayed by the negligent husband, finds a way to provide for the family herself by making shoes. The whole generation has been making shoes ever since.

— Bottom line: music ripped family apart, but shoes brought them together.

Thoughts: Ummm, okay. The banning music parts sounds extreme and a little cheesy, but I guess that’s typical Pixar fairy-tale fanfare. Okay…

Ch. 1: The Riveras

  • Mama Imelda, now deceased, leaves a daughter, Coco (who’s probably 100 right now) and several generations of family.

— Scene setting: The family celebrates Dias de los Muertos (Day of the Dead).

  • Enter the main conflict: music is FORBIDDEN! Abuelita (Coco’s daughter) hates it the most.

— Movie cameo: Pizza truck!

  • Foil: Protanogist (Miguel) loves music, unlike his whole family.

— Tries to integrate it into his daily life.

— Sidekick: Cue the presence of Miguel’s dog friend Dante.

  • Miguel, while going to work, comes to admire the statue of Ernesto de la Cruz.

— Background narration: Ernesto is the most famous musician in Mexico.

– I’m-such-a-fanboy-trope scene: “He could fly!!”

– His most famous song: “Remember me.”

Thoughts: I don’t think Abuelita’s blatant hate of music is realistic. But again, Pixar. And movies are always a little exaggerated. On an unrelated note, Miguel fanboying over Ernesto de la Cruz reminds me of my own fangirly tendencies. I think the reason for hating music that vehemently is, again, a little exagerrated in the movie but okay. Carry on.

Ch. 2: No Music!

  • Michael’s out-loud daydreaming disgruntles a musician.
  • He lets Miguel use his guitar to play a song. Just as he’s about to, however, Miguel’s family catch him in the act.

— Angry grandma trope. (<<We already established how she’s the most vehement opponent to music)

  • At home, Miguel inquires about a talent show this evening and (subtly) asks his family if he can join in order to play music.
  • Family responds.

— Funny scenes: dramatic overreactions.

  • Exposition time: No talent show, says abuelita, because “tonight is about family.”

— Second exposition time: Dia de los Muertos is about remembering dead relatives; they come back to the Land of the Living to pick up offerings.

  • Abuelita shows obvious bias against Coco’s Papa, though Coco keeps calling out for him in her senile state.

Thoughts: Geez, a lot of hate to music. Clearly I’m getting biased here, but wouldn’t it make more sense to hate the source of the trouble, aka the musician himself, and not the music itself? Oh, wait, CinemaSins already covered that question. Anyways, carry on, movie.

Ch. 3: Seize Your Moment!

  • Miguel hides away where he can honor de la Cruz in secret, as well as practice some of Cruz’s songs on a rustic guitar.

— Portrayal of Miguel digging deep into his love for guitar music…and the idol who paved the road for him.

— Cruz’s monologue comes through on screen: “Grab (your dream tightly) and make it come true.

  • Miguel decides to make an important decision…

Thoughts: Considering how Miguel learns to play guitar (through repeated attempts at watching Cruz strum on video), it is admirable that he can pick up on that skill. The “follow your dreams” mantra doesn’t stick true to real life, in my opinion. But I digress…

Ch. 4: Evening

  • It’s the evening of Dia de los Muertos.

— Side note: leaving petals in a trails helps guide the spirits home.

  • Funny scene: Miguel, guitar in hand, wants to enter the talent show, but tries to cover up his sneaking-out in a comical hide-away scene.

— “Miguel, what are you doing?”

“Nothing,” he replies, with a stupid grin.

  • His family announces that he is going to be apprenticed, despite his protests.

— “What if I’m not good at making shoes?”

  • Sidekick dog knocks a picture frame from the food offering table. The one that features Imelda and her husband (His head is cut out of the frame)

— Revealing scene: the picture of Imelda’s husband has *gasp* the same guitar as de la Cruz?!

  • Miguel is so overcome that he shouts his desire on the roof.
  • His family protest.

— Guitar is crushed by abuelita.

— Miguel is heartbroken.

— “I don’t care about some stupid ofrenda!”

Thoughts: U-huh. Smart move, kid. Shout all your hopes and dreams to your disapproving family, only to see them crushed, literally and figuratively, before your eyes. The pathos here sure escalated.

Ch. 5: The Search Is On

  • Desperate times call for desperate measures; Miguel has no instrument, so he’s going to find one for the talent show anyways.
  • Montage: asks around to borrow a guitar –> gets dissed on.
  • In a moment of despair, Miguel looks to a statue of de la Cruz.

— “Seize your moment!” he once said.

– Gets idea.

  • Goes to a site where the late de la Cruz is buried.

— Miguel shoos away pesky sidekick because he doesn’t want to be noticed breaking into the site.

  • Grabs guitar from inside.

— “Please don’t be mad.”

— Dramatic scene: one strum, and petals scatter.

  • Tension builds: Someone outside notices the guitar is missing!

Thoughts: I have a feeling Miguel will be getting more than a talent show into the bargain. I think the plot is finally unfolding!

Ch. 6: An Unexpected Reunion

  • Surprise scene: Miguel is invisible to everyone.
  • Skeletons start appearing among the humans.

— Creepy but funny.

  • Sidekick is the only one among the Land of the Living who can see Miguel.
  • Some skeletons recognize Miguel in the midst of the confusion.

— Realization: Miguel realizes they’re his ancestors from the picture frames.

— Problem: Miguel isn’t dead but he isn’t alive either.

  • Bigger problem looms: Imelda can’t pass through to the Land of the Living.

— Unknown why.

  • The Riveras think the two problems could be related and they take Miguel with him to hopefully solve the problem.

— Petals serve as bridge of the land of the dead.

Thoughts: Mysteries, mysteries abound. I’m more intrigued in how Miguel fell in with the skeletons. Side note: am I the only one who thinks that people living the afterlife as skeletons can affect your self-esteem? I don’t mean depressing, since this is one of the most anti-depressing movies ever, but if this version of the after-life was real, I’d be mourning my skin, or lack thereof. Anyways, I’d glad we’re getting into the meat-and-potatoes of this plot. 

Ch. 7: Welcome to the Land of the Dead

  • Setting: Land of the Dead is a big city and bright place. Very colorful movie, by the way.
  • Miguel realizes that the tradition of Dia de los Muertos is real.

— “I thought it was made up like vitamins.”

“Vitamins are real.”

  • Introduction to alebrijes: spirit guides.
  • Fantasy blends with modern: skeletons accessing bridge looks like a check-in.
  • New character: We get introduced to a self-proclaimed Frida Kahlo.

— Obviously a cross-dresser.

— Something’s fishy.

– “Shall we just skip the scanner?”

  • Scanner denies him entrance-way because he has no picture put up in his memory i.e no one in the Land of the Living remembers him.

— Cross-dresser (who reveals himself as a ragged-looking down-on-his-luck skeleton) even tries to cross the bridge in vain, for he sinks in the petals.

  • Ragged skeleton dude is arrested by security.
  • Meanwhile, Miguel’s ancestors introduce Miguel to the check-in.

— Funny scene: jaws drop at the sight of the living boy. Literally.

  • Next setting takes up to a tech support setting, which helps skeletons having problems crossing over.
  • New character intro: Imelda.

— Funny scene: introduced by smashing a computer out of anger that she can’t cross through.

  • Tech support/whatever-support states the problem: Miguel is cursed to not play music. And since he cheated and stole a guitar, that’s why he accidentally transferred.
  • Aha moment: Miguel also took with him the photo of Imelda and her cropped-out husband, which explains why Imelda couldn’t cross.
  • Solution: Miguel should get his family’s blessing to go back home.

— But! By sunrise; otherwise, he will become one of the dead.

— Miguel is slowly turning into a skeleton.

– Funny scene: faints from shock.

  • Imelda proceeds to give her blessing: he goes home, puts photo back in the ofrenda…and no music!
  • Miguel reluctantly agrees while the petal touches him so he can return.
  • He returns.

— Moment of relief.

  • Takes guitar >> lands promptly back into the Land of the Dead again.

— Protests ensure.

  • Bottom line: Still no one from the Riveras allow him to play music.

— Miguel’s going to remain cursed because of his family’s refusal.

  • Improv plan in process: “I need to use the bathroom!”

— Funny scene: “Should we tell him there’s no restroom in the Land of the Dead?”

Thoughts: Well, this got complicated. I think I know what he’s going to do next.

Ch. 8: Hector

  • Family realizes that Miguel has escaped; the hunt for Miguel is on.
  • Exposition scene: Miguel wants to find de la Cruz, his only blood relative who’d approve of music, to get his blessing from him instead.
  • A scene of narrow escapes.
  • Miguel overhears a conversation from a police officer.

— Turns out it’s between a police skeleton and the cross-dresser from earlier.

— Character reveal: the raggedy skeleton is pitiful, funny, wisecracking.

– Also likes to take himself apart.

  • Raggedy explains that he has seats to de la Cruz’s show; uses that as a bribe to be let off.
  • Police lets him off with a warning.
  • Chance: Miguel inquires to the skeleton about de la Cruz

— Funny scene: Skeleton shocks at finding a human boy.

  • Skeleton then gets an idea.

— Will help Miguel if Miguel helps him.

  • Trouble sets in: the Riveras are on Miguel’s heels.
  •  Miguel grabs Hector and RUNS.
  • Scene change: Our unlikely trio (Miguel, Skeleton aka Hector, Dante) are in an alley haven.

— Hector paints Miguel’s face like a skeleton’s so he can blend in.

– “Dead as a doorknob.”

  • Character reveal/exposition: Hector’s picture can’t go to the land of the living because his picture was never put up.

— However, he says, Miguel can change that.

  • Hector gives Miguel his portrait to put up.
  • Also inquires if Miguel is sure he has no other family here other than de la Cruz.
  • Miguel, naturally, lies.

— It has to be de la Cruz.

– Stubborn.

  • Hector sees he has no other choice.
  • Funny scene: Hector insists he does not walk funny while Miguel thinks he walks “funny”, like a skeleton.

— Enforces Hector’s quirky, funny personality.

Thoughts: It’s at this point that narration normally delves into the “danger zone” aka the part where the protagonist finds himself in some serious predicament that he must inevitably fix. That Miguel purposely chose to go on a high-speed mission to finally pursue his passion instead of being thrown into a whirlwind of chaos via fate is refreshing to see here. Now I’m seriously interested whether the guv is going to find de la Cruz…and how much the movie will rely on luck to propel the protagonist’s adventure onward.

Ch. 9: Choking on Chorizos

  • Our protagonists are headed to where de la Cruz would rehearse before the Sunrise Spectacular show.

— Turns out Hector lied about the tickets to the show; they’ll have to improvise this way.

  • Scene setting: the rehearsal.
  • Unreliable Hector is chewed out for not returning a performer’s dress.

— Character trait: Hector is unreliable.

  • Dante goes off to explore while Miguel follows.

— Clumsy sidekick trope in action.

  • Miguel accidentally bothers a woman skeleton, who, then is entranced by Dante.

— Says he could be a spirit guide.

– Miguel is skeptical.

  • Woman-skeleton shows Miguel her performance scene.
  • Miguel suggests some music added into it.

— “You’re an artist!” she says over his suggestion.

  • Expectation vs. Reality moment: Miguel is told that de la Cruz doesn’t do rehearsals. Instead, he’s at the tower, celebrating.
  • Meanwhile, a mariachi band makes fun of Hector’s death.

— “He choked on a chorizo!”

— Even though that’s strictly not true.

– Hector claims to have died via food poisoning.

  • Players explain how to reach de la Cruz.

“If you’re not on the guest list, you aren’t getting in.”

  • New plan: try out for a music competition at the plaza. Winner gets to play for de la Cruz.

Thoughts: I can see that even when dead, artists are as weird as they are in real life. Ummm, what else? Game-changer complicates the plot of the story. I like it. Is Hector’s death going to be a running gag? Sounds like it. Is his version of his own death really true, though?

Ch. 10: A Visit

  • The Rivera’s spirit guide is getting closer to Miguel.
  • Meanwhile, Hector voices his contempt for musicians.
  • New plan: get a guitar for the talent show.

— Hector has a plan where to get one.

— Running gag: Hector comically falls apart on his way to the destination.

  • Setting reveal: Our protagonists come to a community of skeletons who don’t have photos in their ofrenda.

“No family to go home to.”

  • Protagonists visit Chicarron.

— Hector asks to borrow his guitar.

  • Chicarron is quite reluctant.

“Like the time you promised me my van? Fridge? Napkins? Lasso? My femur?

  • Chicarron is visibly fading.

— Asks Hector to play the guitar in order to earn it, and also as a dying wish.

  • Hector agrees, despite his distaste for music.
  • Chicarron, his dying wish complete, fades in peace.

— Sad moment.

  • Explanation: fading means you’re forgotten in the living world; you disappear from this world forever.

— “We call it the final death.”

— Memories have to passed down by alive people.

Thoughts: Wait, so…you die twice? A creative take on what happens after you die, except you don’t actually “die” die, does that make sense? As to what happens in the “final death”, I don’t believe the wildest centuries-old stories will ever come close to an accurate explanation.. 

Get guitar: check. Perform in a talent show: ummm, I have a feeling the scene is gonna go down like those many “underdog” stories. Amiright? Amiright? You know what I’m saying?

Ch. 11: Poco Loco

  • Exposition scene: Hector reveals that he knew de la Cruz and played music with him, even though Hector himself hates music.
  • Scene change: The Plaza Contest.
  • Show begins.

— Funny scene: Everyone is humorously mediocre in their playing attempts.

  • Meanwhile, Miguel plans to play, “Remember Me,” a popular song by de la Cruz.

— Hector insists that it’s way too overrated

– As though to underline his words, everyone is auditioning covers of that song.

  • Miguel decides on Poco Loco instead.
  • Moment of uncertainty: Miguel never performed.

— Moment of truth: “I don’t just wanna get Cruz’s blessing, I wanna prove to him that I’m worthy of it!”

“What a sweet sentiment…at such a bad time!!!”

  • Funny scene: Hector teaches Miguel how to warm up skeleton-style.

— Miguel is pretty awkward at it.

  • Miguel’s turn to get on the stage.

— Moment of uncertainty: Can I really do this?

– “Bring back the singing dogs!”

  • In a surge of confidence, Miguel belts out a magnificent first few strums, wowing the crowd.

— Prodigy in bloom.

  • Hector is pushed by sidekick to join the stage.

— Has a realization moment of hey-this-is-fun!

  • In the background: the Riveras come onto the scene again.
  • Miguel’s performance is a success!
  • However, he spies the Riveras from afar and has to escape.

— “Please look out for a living boy!” host announcs to crowd.

  • Announcement makes Hector realizes that Miguel is the same boy. Says Miguel tricked hi by lying that he had no other family.

— Tries to force him back.

  • Miguel resists, gives Hector back his photo and heads out by himself…

Thoughts: Hmmm-hmmm…you know what I like about this scene? That Miguel, who hardly ever had experience playing let alone on stage, is suddenly performing like a pro. Of course that’s a plot convenience, but want me to prove how unrealistic this is? Lemme tell you: while writing this I took a break by performing my tap dance combination on video. Just the awareness of being on camera made me stiffen by 50%, folks, so how do you think I’d perform in front of a frickin’ CROWD? Not well, apparently. So if you ever see a video of me tapping stiff as a skeleton from the Land of the Dead, now you know what nerves do to the inexperienced. Miguel wouldn’t been any different, trust me. But then, pfft, he’s obviously a prodigy here, so maybe I’ve got my entire theory wrong. 

One more thing: remember how Miguel tells Hector that he wants to prove himself worthy and Hector’s all like, “Arrghh this is such a bad time!” My sister cleverly pointed out the similarity of this scene to a real-life scenario between me and sis. 

Sis: Hurry up the photoshoot! I’ve got to get going!

Me: No, take another picture…but at this angle! I gotta make the pics look good for my blog! I gotta prove myself to the world!

Sis: Oh, what a sweet sentiment…at such a bad time!!!

Anyways, the tension in the plot is really building! I can see how desperate Miguel is to achieve his dreams. Too bad his family are some stubborn asses…

But really? They’d search high and low just to barr a child’s passions? 

Ch. 12: Moment of Truth

  • Convenience: Miguel trips and falls. This causes his hood to fall down, revealing his human self to the skeleton population.
  • Starts running.
  • Spirit guide has caught up to him by now.
  • Miguel narrowly escapes.
  • Imelda scolds him through the bars that separate her and him.

— In a moment of desperation, Imelda sings.

– History exposition: Claims that she loves music, but her daughter mattered more to her.

Ch. 13: Like great-great-grandpa, like son.

  • Scene setting: Miguel reaches de la Cruz’s mansion.
  • Tries to get in.

— Uses an excuse of, “I’m his grandson!”

  • Ends up being thrown out.
  • Comes up with an idea.
  • Asks the winning musicians to sneak him in.

— Since they liked his performance, they oblige.

  • Scene change: Beautiful scenery of the mansion.

— Lots of partying.

  • Miguel focuses on plan: find de la Cruz.

— Starts following de la Cruz once he catches sight of him somewhere in the crowd.

– Can’t reach him.

  • Improvises an idea, since he’s good at that stuff.

— “He will listen…to music!”

  • Takes his guitar and starts playing an improvised song.

— Showstopper.

– Catches de la Cruz’s attention.

  • Embarrassing moment: trips into pool
  • De la Cruz saves Miguel.
  • Miguel introduces himself as Cruz’s descendant and he wants blessing.

— Explains that’s why he’s here.

Ch. 14: Friend Feud

  • Running gag: “Frida Kahlo” aka Hector enters the mansion after Miguel with his usual cross-dressing gimmick.

— “Yes, it is I, Frida Kahlo.”

  • Meanwhile, Ernesto de la Cruz shows off his grandson.
  • Catch a scene from one of Cruz’s famous movies where he is almost “killed”.

— Important scene: “Poison!” says de la Cruz as he punches the enemy.

  • Scene change: an room filled with countless offerings just for de la Cruz.
  • Miguel has a moment of fanboying.

— But he asks: does Cruz regret leaving his family behind?

– Response: maybe, but his passion to play was greater.

– So no, he doesn’t regret it.

  • Cruz prepares to send Miguel home.

— “I hope you die very soon.”

*Awkward*

“You know what I mean.”

  • About to send Miguel home, but-
  • Hector crashes the scene.

— Still dressed like a Frida.

Cruz seems to recognize him.

— “Hector?”

  • Hector begs Miguel to just put his photo up.

— Also blames Cruz for stealing his songs.

– Moment of confusion: is that true?

– Miguel thought that Cruz wrote his own songs.

  • Ernesto defends himself by saying he wanted to keep Hector’s memory alive, since they played together.
  • Hector begs Cruz to let him cross the bridge.

— Connection: “You told me you’d move Heaven and Earth for me.”

– Miguel: “[Quote is] Just like in the movie.”

  • Realization moment:

— Hector: “I got homesick. Poisoned and died…similar to the movie.”

  • Plot twist: Cruz is the villain now.

— Hector: “You poisoned me.”

  • Now that Hector knows too much, Cruz unleashes body guards on him to take him away.
  • Then he also orders Miguel to be taken away, amidst his disbelief of Cruz being the villain.

— “But I’m your family!”

“And Hector was my best friend. Success doesn’t come for free.”

Thoughts: Wuuaahh! I did NOT see that twist! Okay, I kinda foresaw something fishy was gonna happen when Hector came in, but what a pleasant — I mean, unpleasant — plot twist. My sister said it was “predictable.” But then, we all did see “Frozen,” right? Not surprising that the good-guy-is-actually-the-villain trope showed up here. But still clever. 

Ch. 15: My Coco.

  • When Miguel is tossed into a sinkhole, is he reunited with Hector there.

— Moment of despair: Miguel is slowly turning into a skeleton.

  • Says his family was right about de la Cruz.
  • Hector’s fading/being forgotten.

— His daughter is forgetting. He only wished to come home to see her.

– “My Coco.”

  • Second plot twist: This makes Hector the father of Coco; thus, he’s the forgotten musician of the Riveras.

— Important quote: “I thought I’d see her again. Give her the biggest hug.”

— Flashback.

– Sings, “Remember Me,” to his little girl Coco.

— But by the time she’s here, Hector will disappear from the Land of the Dead.

  • Forgotten celebrity: Hector’s song and guitar were stolen.

— He only wrote the songs for Coco.

  • Realization: Hector and Miguel are actually related!

— Miguel says that at least he’s not related to a murderer.

– Moment of joy.

  • Ex Machina? : Dante and the Riveras appear over the sinkhole.

— They are saved!

Thoughts: Woooaaah, I did not expect that second plot twist! I love this! I don’t like ex machinas but overall, I loved the moment of family bonding as Miguel found his true ancestor. I started tearing up a little…

Ch. 16: The Power of Family

  • The Riveras are all reunited, including Hector since what seems like ages.
  • Dante turns into a spirit guide along the way.

— You can tell because he lights up.

  • Hector tries to be nice to Imelda at least, but she gives him a cold shoulder.

— He reaches out >> she scoffs.

— Rants about him.

  • Miguel defends him.

— Says he can leave, but it is important to get his photo back home first.

  • Turning point: explains Hector’s real motive (to go back home to his family) but Cruz murdered him for that.

— Running out of time till Hector disappears.

  • Moment of reconciliation: Imelda doesn’t forgive Hector, but she will agree to help him.
  • Scene change: Ernesto de la Cruz’s Spectacular Show.
  • Plan: Find photo. Give to Miguel. Send Miguel home. Petals for backup.
  • Suddenly: Cruz and the Riveras bump into each other.

— Imelda strikes first.

– “That’s for murdering the love of my life!” (Though she denies it later).

– “That’s for trying to murder my grandson!”

  • Cruz has the photo. The chase is on.

— Action scene: Riveras dodge bodyguards and fight in a kickass manner as only skeletons can.

  • Amidst the fight, Imelda accidentally ends up on stage.

Thoughts: you know what I love about this scene? It’s not just a bunch of skeleton sidekicks that fight the evil villains — they fight as a family, and because their members’ lives are literally at stake. And I’m already shipping Hector and Imelda.

Ch. 17: Imelda decides

  • In order to save face, Imelda starts singing on stage.

— Even though it’s been a while since she did.

– Plot point: hated music>> has to face fear.

  • Funny scene: sings a rejuvinating song, “La Llorona” while evading Cruz and his bodyguards while both Cruz and Imelda keep a presentable appearance on stage.
  • Imelda gets the photo from de la Cruz.

— Backstage, her reaction to seeing Hector softens since she’s feeling nostalgic.

  • Imelda prepares to send Miguel home with the photo.

— Gives him blessing to play music, after all.

  • De la Cruz butts in at the exact moment

— Villain monologue: With the help of stage set-up, Ernesto accidentally reveals his villainous schemes to the audience.

– Wants to prevent himself from becoming exposed as a fraud.

  • Throws Miguel off the roof.
  • Luckily spirit guide saves him.

— However, Hector’s photo is ruined in the process.

  • Cruz comes onstage.
  • Not knowing what the audience now knows, is booed and tossed out of the arena by the spirit guide.

— Nice kitty gag.

  • Cruz is killed again by a bell, just like in his last life.

— Funny scene: “What did I miss?” spectator asks as he arrives onto the scene.

  • Time is running out: Hector is dying and Miguel is all but dead as sunrise approaches.

— Sad moment: Hector lying weak on the floor, about to be faded.

  • Just before Miguel turns into one of the dead, Imelda sends him back.

Thoughts: Aw, man, I have nothing to say here…villain obviously got his karma, but this is sad. I can feel the rush against time as Hector is dying real-time. 

Ch. 18: Coco Remembers

  • Setting: Back in the land of the living. Morning. Miguel starts running back home in a frenzy.
  • Miguel’s family comes across him, after having been absent all night, and demand an explanation.

— Abuelita being the most demanding of them all.

  • Having reached Coco, Miguel plays on the guitar a rendition of, “Remember Me” so she can remember.

— Plot device: “Remember Me” is what Hector sang to her so many years ago.

  • It works; Coco remembers and takes out some scripts of her father’s songs.
  • She reconnects the original Rivera picture to the picture of Hector’s head.

— Hector, not de la Cruz, as we so mistakenly believed.

Thoughts: Gahhh, what else should I say?! Everyone’s crying at this point! I’m crying, my friend who watched this with me is crying. YOU’RE crying!!

Epilogue

  • One year later
  • Cruz”s legacy has changed, while Hector’s is restored.

— Funny scene: Hector’s headstone says, “Remember Me,” Cruz’s: “Forget you.”

  • Coco has died within the past year, but she is remembered.

— As is Hector.

  • The tension between the Riveras in the Land of the Dead has healed.

— Hector and Imelda are loving husband and wife again.

— Tearworthy moment: Hector gives Coco that “big hug” finally.

Final wrap-up scene: Miguel is a blossoming musician playing in the plaza during another Dia de los Muertos while the living and dead alike look on.

*The End*

Thoughts: I very very nearly was in danger of crying when Hector finally gave that long-awaited hug to Coco, but I had makeup on and I didn’t want to ruin it, so I had to suck it up with all my strength. My guy friend, on the other hand… xD

 

*Faceplants desk* I told you this was going to be a long one. Indeed, I thought I was wasting my time typing up a movie outline. This is why I will probably not do something like this in a long, long time. But I stand by my decision. I wanted to do this for my huge love for Coco, and it was to help me break down the art of good storytelling.

I almost added in the plot holes, (Because I’m pretty meticulous that way, mwahahah!!) but I think I’ll add them in the next post. Maybe.

Final thoughts? Despite my sarcastic commentary, I genuinely think the movie earns a place among the best of Pixar’s works. The plot-lines, the animation, the cultural experience…hey, maybe I’m gonna learn Spanish because of a movie. Just like that one time with Big Hero 6 I remember when I watched it; I thought it too was going to suck big time. I came out of the movie theater with a HUGE crush on Hiro Hamada for the next two years, a fervent desire to get to know the Japanese culture and language more, and a binge-watching history of anime. Obviously, I picked up no crushes from Coco, hahah, but I couldn’t help singing along “La Llorona” in broken Spanish just the other day while half-wondering whether I could learn some dance routine to that song — ooh, so catchy!

SO. Tiffany’s writing tip of the day: Observe. Observe good storytelling by breaking down its elements, be it books, plays, or movies. Or even Pixar movies for that matter, since I consider Pixar movies artforms in and of themselves. Outlining optional. 🙂

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Advertisements

Just 15 Minutes a Day: It’s That Easy!

    DSC00943

Ann Kroeker here took some interesting statistics about America’s literacy rate from a certain Jennifer from Scraps and Snippets who in turn cited it from Harvey Mackey in a 2006 article. Check it out:

  • Only 14 percent of adults with a grade-school education read literature in 2002.
  • 51 percent of the American population never reads a book more than 400 pages after they complete their formal education. 
  • The average American reads only eight hours (books, newspapers, magazines, Yellow pages etc.) every week. 
  • The average American annually spends 10 times more on what he puts on his head than what he puts into his head. 

Consider the following:

  • If you read one book per month for 12 straight months, you will be in the top 25 percentile of all intellectuals in the world!
  • If you read five books on one subject, you are one of the world’s foremost leading authorities on that subject!
  • If you read just 15 minutes a day — every day, for one year — you can complete 20 books!

Interesting mind snacks for ya, huh? But let me rewind a little…

Yes, I know this survey was taken at least a decade ago. But don’t you think it’s still relevant to this day? Look where the most recent tech has taken us. According to the Huffington Post in 2015,

  • “…young adults used their phones an average of five hours a day — that’s roughly one-third of their total waking hours.”

Add that with all the many social medias and accessible TV shows and movies online, and we’re more plugged into online sensation than ever! I wouldn’t be surprised if reading time has decreased further today. Not surprised at all.

Second, I’d gladly rant about how this makes me lose hope for society and yadda yadda, but let’s just ask ourselves: why? Why don’t more people educate themselves and read more? Are we just too lazy? Is the phone screen too addicting? (Reading online doesn’t count, mind you; I read on my phone all the time) Maybe we are too busy? Do we not see the use for reading anymore? As my wise Mama once said, kids come out of school hating education so much that they can’t even set eyes on another book.

Now the last part I can understand.

I’m an aspiring writer. I’m a little picky when it comes to choosing books, but I always did like to read. Nevertheless, it took some self-discipline to read, too — not just light reads with elements of comedy or adventure, but something could challenge me intellectually or written on an advanced level. And as a writer, I am trying to expose myself to as many genres of books as much as I can. If I’m not writing, then I’m reading. I have a Goodreads account, by the way, and my goal is to read 50 books by the end of the year. I know that’s four times more than you need to become part of the 25th percentile of intellectuals, but 50 sounds a round, nice number to complete, and maybe I’ll be a better writer for it! Win-win.

Before the wrap, I’m going to answer the two questions that Kroeker posed on her post:

What have you read recently, and what do you plan to read?

A: I have a Goodreads account, which I linked onto my home page, and which you should check out by the way (I roast all the mediocre books 😉 ). Mostly young adult fiction, since I’m learning to write in that niche.

What I plan on reading? Hmmm. Let me start with long-term reading goals. I’d like to delve more into the classics. Oscar Wilde and Bernard Shaw and John Galsworthy and the other blokes. Some “young adult” novels I read have an adolescent-level slant to them, so I’m also looking for something with a more advanced reading level.

If we’re talking short-term, I need to pick up some library books similar to the genre of the novel I’m working on. It’s a psychological thriller about a psychopath turned neurotypical, and I thought maybe there should be lots of FBI and secret organization tropes for that idea. Examples include Witness to the Truth, Red Dragon, The Silence of the Lambs (Good choice if I say so myself, heheheh), and more FBI-esque novels. It’s not my final decision…but I will keep my eyes peeled for more books that will expand my story-building ideas.

But I digress.

You want to become a better writer? Here’s one way to do it: Read! Personally I read more than 15 minutes a day, but 15 is the perfect starting point for anyone. It’s that easy!

So, what have you read recently, and what do YOU plan to read?

 

6 Questions to Ask Yourself

Related image

My best friend and fellow aspiring author recently sent me several creative-writing-related blog links. The how-tos, the tips and tricks, and everything else to up your skill level. Here is one example. Among stashes of posts which go date back as far as a decade ago, I found a one titled, “6 Questions to Ask Yourself” meant as a conversation starter and for bloggers to answer and publish on their own. I figured, “Hey, how about I write my own answers for the world to see!” Oh, and bonus, because now you finally take a look into my soul. That’s always fun…huh?

Let’s start:

1. If you could ask Jesus anything and know you’d get an answer, what would you ask him?

A: I believe in Jesus. This one was relatively easy to answer.

Dear Jesus,

Is there a purpose to suffering? Children are starving in Africa, North Koreans dying by the millions, and Russian orphans who can’t be adopted simply because of the law of a few corrupt people. And that’s only the tip of the iceberg. Then there’s me, the neurotic writer-wannabe who wants to help everyone she can, but doesn’t even know how how to stem her own suffering. To this day I’m still not secure in my identity and I feel pain because of it. So yes, I suffer too because I need to help myself first. Is there a reason why I’m enduring what I’m suffering now, and why others suffer the different levels or pain that they do in this world?

2. How have I changed?

A:

Pros: I am now more proactive in my desires. Whereas I used to dream of being a “somebody”, now I’m not just dreaming, I’m doing. Okay, trying. I’ve also become less negligent of school work and more disciplined. Grades always mattered to me, but right now, they matter a lot.

Cons: Is there such a thing as, “too much motive?” Apparently there is. Now I feel more hectic than ever trying to achieve everything at once, trying to be everything at once. And even then, the nagging voice is telling me that I’m not proactive enough. When I fall short of achievements, I get pissed, and I fall into a cycle of further negativity. I’m a slight workaholic who hasn’t picked up a movie or anime show since Easter because I have a huge fear of laziness.

3. How do I need to change?

A: I was always a competitive kid. But it didn’t matter so much back then. And sure, Mom yelled at me more when I was that lil’ ankle biter who didn’t give two damns about my homework. But you know…it wasn’t always that way. When I was younger, I had goals…but I didn’t lose sleep over not being where I am in life. My anxiety was short-lived, and life was felt more like playgrounds and daydreaming and sunshine and butterflies compared to today. I needed to be competitive against other people’s achievements, but also against myself. One of these days I need to take a chill pill. Oops, wait — I’m already taking prescribed medication for anxiety. Hahah. But seriously.

I need to learn more compassion towards a wider range of people. Like my sister. Bless her heart for all her help, from fashion photoshoots to English essays! Even though sometimes I took this help for granted. I’ll always owe you one, sis. Yes, that’s the word: compassion. Even for those whose opinions differ from mine, for those who act like jerks, and for those that society has been taught to look down on.

4. What are my values?

A: The old saying has always stuck: do unto others as you want them to do onto you. And let’s face it, there’s always that one person you just wanna throw a brick at. But no matter how angry I am, my moral code dictates to never say anything hurtful or lift a finger to harm anyone. That includes no gossip, no self-righteous outbursts, and always telling the honest truth. I make sure I’m polite to others, help those who ask for it, and above all, show love to everyone. But these efforts would be for naught if I didn’t actually mean them. Distorted as my own version of love feels like right now, I want to learn to love unconditionally.

5. What you do want?

A: Ah, good question.

To get over my existential crisis. (What, I’m only 18, yo!)

A productive job.

Several skill sets.

Independence.

Bravery.

Confidence.

An optimistic outlook.

A Soulmate

Success.

Just kidding, I really need a peace of mind more than anything else right now.

6. What’s next?

A: Keep living. Just keep doing whatever I’m doing.

Including blogging.

 

Some of those questions did not come out the way I expected them to! But, I guess that’s what happens when you get personal.

Annnd that’s it! Not only a fine conversation starter, but a prompt to help you find yourself. Deep one.

If you have any responses to share, let me know in the comments!

 

 

 

 

Adopt Some Novel Ideas Pt. 13

1. Dear Lord, give me patience and give it to me NOW!!!

2. C1: I love you. *Kisses C2*

C2: Thanks, but you’re aware that I’m currently kidnapping you, right?

3. I’m a nice person, but these shmucks are enough to make me break 6 of the 10 Commandments.

4. Aww, it’s so cute. I wanna strangle it. 0.o

5. If that’s a problem, close your eyes, shut your mouth, and go hide under a rock.

6. Sorry, I don’t speak karate.

7. My mom says that if I don’t stop playing this song, she’ll smash my head into this keyboard. Lol I think she’s just asd;lkjaopgi jlvfdmfb./dfbkdfb fld;dfg gf

8. Difficulty level: Asian.

*****

I’m going back to writing poems. This time I’ll try to experiment with different poetry styles and categorize them as such.

Don’t be a stranger! Leave a comment and tell me what you think of my plethora of witty dialogues/quotes so far!

Adopt Some Novel Dialogue Pt. 12

1) C1: Darling, how many times must I tell you to stop judo-flipping your classmates whenever you’re having a quarrel?

C2: But I’m competent, Mom!

C1: You’re eight!

2) C1: Trust me!

C2: Last time I did, I got shot. So no.

3) Sorry, I speak American.

4) If at first you don’t succeed, then skydiving is not for you!

5) Next time you wave, use all of your fingers. Please?

6) Whoever believes in telekinesis, raise my hand.

7) Always remember that you’re unique, just like everyone else.

8) Auntie Em: hate you, hate Kansas, taking the dog with me. -Dorothy.

9) Don’t drive and drive. You might hit a bump and spill your drink.

*****

4 through 9 I believe I copied from somewhere on the internet — but they were too good to pass up. 

Adopt Some Novel Dialogue Pt. 11

1. Yes, I know the plan is both crazy and brilliant. Crazy-brilliant. A pity that more people don’t ask me, “Honey, how is some barbed wire, a rake, and a pet turtle gonna help us make a proper getaway?” instead of making cuckoo signs behind my back.

2. C1: Oh, C2, C2, I’ve missed you so much…

C2: I was only gone for a few hours! Are you okay?

C1: You have no idea! *Hugs C2*

C2: Okay, yeah, I’m calling the doctor.

3. *Shows photo* Have you seen this thief? He has stolen my heart and I need it back ASAP.

4. Okay, now you can faint.

5. Russians…rebelling against authority since 1917.

6. Well, coming from a trigger-happy maniac like you, I guess it’d make sense that you’d name your gun Peek-A-Boom. 

7. You’d better leave now for your safety…my sadistic tendencies are creeping up on me again.

8. For the last time, no! I didn’t steal your cat and eat it! I don’t care if I’m from [name of country]. You’re making me look bad!

9. C1: You’re insane!

C2: Honestly, are you that dense? I thought you knew that already.

*****

Side note of the day: I’m seeing quite sharp rise in subscribers. Whooo! Keep up the count, people! I’m stoked! Good night!

Adopt Some Novel Dialogue Pt. 10

1) Congratulations, you just won the Poolitzer Prize for crappiest journalism ever.

2) C1: Guys, it’s confirmed! C2 is in love!

C3: And why do you think so?

C1: She’s doing sappy-talk in Italian again — you know, the language of love and all?

3) C1: Why didn’t you just kill me when you had the chance?

C2: Because I don’t just kill people, you know. Plus, I love you.

4) At first sight, I thought my captor’s face looked like that of an angel’s. Even when she waved that shotgun at my face, she was still an angel to me — an angel with a shotgun, that is. Oh, wait…that’s my Stockholm syndrome kicking in again.

5) *Facepalm* Mental note to self: never recruit another hormonal teenager for this job.

6) C1: Wow! Shut! Up!

C2: Shut up.

C1: I know, right?

C2: No. “Shut up,” as in, “shut up” shut up.

7) He’s the type of person who would bite off a lipstick chunk just because it smells yummy.

8) C1: I wish I lived in your shoes, so I could be with you every. Step. Of. The way.

C2: I wish I was Clorox bleach so I could drink myself for your cringy pick-up line I get told.

9) C1: Did you just assume my relationship status?

C2: Why, yes, you special snowflake.

 

 

Adopt Some Novel Dialogue Pt. 9

1. This is why I hate secret agents. First you think they’re on your side but nooo, they’re actually on the other team. Then they make this huge scene of repenting and coming back to the good side, and even then they still have questionable motives. Hence the term, “Double-double agents.”

2. Death: the solution to all the world’s problems. That or Nutella. Choose one.

3. C1: Why do you curse at people in [foreign language]?

C2: Because it’s cooler to condemn people in [foreign language].

4. …Because I’m freaking Batman, baby! [jumps off building]

5. C1: You-you just saved my life.

C2: Duh! I don’t just let people die off like that! It would hurt the economy!

6. I’ll hold, you punch.

7. He does his talking with an axe. Go figure.

8. If what he says really is true, then my name is Princess Anastasia!

9. Right to bear arms? Ridiculous. Did you know that in my country, we have rights to entire bear?

 

 

Adopt Some Novel Dialogue Pt. 8

  1. Oh, dear. You look unusually cheerful today. What happened, where did it happen, and whose sorry butt should I apologize for this time?

2. Goodbye. I will miss the days when we tried to kill each other.

3. Within time you’ll be so famous that we’ll even get reports on what time of the day you normally take a dump.

4. C1: Did you know? A wet towel works as well as an actual whip.

C2: That’s why next time, don’t waste your money on a makeshift rope on Amazon for twenty bucks.

5. Ooh, snarky. I have a feeling we’re gonna get along great together.

6. ‘Man up or shut up’ is my motto.

7. C1: Wanna know how to test someone’s innocence? Order them to kick a puppy.

C2: You sadist! How dare-! Oh…

C1: Exactly.

8. C1: He’s ugly.

C2: Hey, you apologize right now!

C1: I’m sorry he’s ugly!

9. I’m used to the unexpected. I became friends with one of the most wanted terrorists on Facebook, nearly got decapitated by cucumber, and was an involuntary participant in the Beer Can Appreciation Day festival. But I never expected you, YOU of all people, to fall in love with me.

 

Adopt Some Novel Dialogue Pt. 7

  1. I tried making him fall in love with me. The plan backfired.

2. C1: C’mere, I wanna show you something interesting.

C2: Oh, dear, not another viral YouTube rap battle?

3. C1: Y-you’re alive!

C2: *Slaps C1* Of course I’m alive, stupid! I’m only back cuz I can’t afford dying, the mess you dumbos would stir up in my absence. My girlfriend would commit suicide. Mom would get sick. My little brother would steal my room. And you? You’ll only cry, blubber about my awesomeness, erect a gold statue of me and I dunno, maybe even name the next cure after me, which would be frankly embarrassing. What, you’re blubbering now?! You know what, never mind…c’mere and gimme a hug, you hopeless crybaby.

4. C1: Hang on to your butts, folks; we’re about to engage in mortal combat. But leave [Villain] to me…I will fight him myself. It will be long. Painful. And dramatic.

C2: Uh-huh, so would you like a soundtrack to go with that?

5. ‘Mortal combat’? I hope you guys have insurance for pay for all the damage, the hell you guys will create.

6. Oh, you think you’re embarrassing? I once caught myself humming a Barney song at my great-aunt’s funeral.

7. Man…ugh…I sure didn’t see the blaring “This is nothing like Halo!” warning sign on the hero contract when I signed up for this.

8. C1: Thanks. You know, for the hug.

C2: I did it so you could shut up. (Bonus points if C1 has a crush on C2, and double bonus points if C2 also likes C1 back but is trying to hide it)

9. I know you wanna snap my neck for asking you — like the way you snapped that toothpick — but please?