Pixar is known for several things, including having the ability to make audiences weep at will through beautifully told stories featuring great characters. The animation studio is also well-known for sneaking in easter eggs, which are both entertaining for the artists to hide and a pleasure for eagle-eyed viewers to spot. Lee Unkrich, who recently finished directing Pixar’s latest film Coco, is not shy in expressing his love for Stanley Kubrick’s The Shining. Actually, the director placed several references to the Kubrick film in his first directorial effort for Pixar, Toy Story 3. Now, he has done the same for Coco.
Coco is the 19th feature film from Pixar. It tells the story of Miguel, a 12-year-old boy who has a love for music but is forbidden to play. Taking place entirely on Dia de los Muertos (the Day of the Dead), the film is a celebration of the cultural holiday and an exploration of the significance of family.
I asked Unkrich in a roundtable interview back in August how many references we could expect to see in Coco to his favorite film. His response?
There are a few in there. There’s one in…well, I won’t say it. I think that there’s three. I won’t say what they are. [Three] that I know of. The crew sometimes sneaks things in and hides them from me, even. There was one thing that I wouldn’t have noticed if they hadn’t told me.
So there’s some detective work for you all to do. Not only can you keep an eye out for the usual Pixar easter eggs (Pizza Planet Truck, Luxo, Jr.’s ball with the star, etc.) – you are also tasked with finding at least three references to The Shining. “At least” is the key phrase here because, as Unkrich acknowledged, sometimes there are easter eggs placed by the crew that go unseen for a long period, even after a film’s been completed.
Here is my approach to easter eggs – on first viewing, I look for nothing. I find actively scanning the screen distracts me from being immersed into the world the filmmakers have created. If I find a Pizza Planet truck or some other reference, I have an “aha!” moment but then quickly find myself re-absorbed in the story once more. On later viewings, I find that I come to appreciate all the little details, from the gorgeous designs of the characters, landscapes, and architecture, to (yes) the easter eggs.
My advice is to try not to focus too much on your hunt for all of the easter eggs. It will be impossible to notice all of them on your first viewing (no matter how hard you look), and you might just become distracted from what many are calling a great Pixar film. The film has already been released in Mexico, and it has been garnering rave reviews from audiences in the country. Given the significance of the holiday to Mexico, that is a strong endorsement.
Coco officially hits theaters in North America on November 22nd, though screenings will begin in the evening on November 21st. Based on what I hear, it is the quintessential film to experience with family and loved ones – also, bring tissues.