SPOILER WARNING: Do not read this unless you’ve seen Pixar’s “Coco.”
“Coco” came away with a great start at the box office on Thanksgiving weekend, as critics and audiences alike are praising the film’s colorful worlds, touching message on family and mortality, and its thoughtful depiction of Mexican culture and customs.
The film features Miguel, a music-loving boy whose passions are frequently quashed by his family who has banned music ever since his great-great grandfather left the family behind to pursue his dreams of music. When he steals the guitar of the famous Ernesto De La Cruz to play at his town’s talent show, he is transported to the land of the dead, where he meets his ancestors and discovers the truth about why his family won’t let him play music.
Of course, as viewers know, that truth comes from Miguel’s unexpected companion, Hector, who helps Miguel get back home in the hopes that he can place his picture on his family’s ofrenda and allow him to visit the land of the living. But as it turns out — final spoiler warning — Hector’s family is Miguel’s family. Hector is Miguel’s long-lost great-great-grandfather, and the one responsible for writing all of Ernesto De La Cruz’s songs.
But in clever Pixar fashion, “Coco” slipped an Easter egg into the film that gives away Hector’s big secret from the moment he’s introduced. If you look closely at Hector, you can see that he has a golden tooth. If you look at Ernesto’s guitar — and the imitation one that Miguel makes at the start of the movie — the skeleton design on the head of the guitar has the same golden tooth.
Pixar has been known for its attention to world-building — and Easter eggs — and “Coco” is no exception. Like any good twist, clues are placed in the film well before the big reveal, and it’s not just with Hector. Miguel’s dog, Dante, who is revealed to be a spirit guide called an alebrije, first appears in the film next to a table where several alebrije figurines are placed. In another sign that Pixar did its homework on Mexican culture, Dante’s breed is also a clue to his true identity. Dante is a xoloitzcuintli dog, also known as a xolo or a Mexican Hairless Dog. Archeologists have found remains of these dogs at Aztec burial sites, as the Aztecs believed the xolos were spiritual guides with knowledge of the afterlife.