The initial idea for Coco came about in 2010 when Lee Unkrich pitched a movie to Pixar about an American boy learning about his Mexican heritage. The film went through various rewrites, at one point being more of a straightforward musical. Finally, it became one of the best movies in Pixar’s canon with funny quotes, relatable characters, and a heartfelt ending. Heads up, screenwriters, there’s a lot we can learn from the Coco script?
Coco Script Download
Click to view and download the entire Coco script PDF below.
Who wrote the Coco script?
Adrian Molina and Matthew Aldrich.
While the original story was developed by Lee Unkrich, Jason Katz, Matthew Aldrich, and Adrian Molina, the credited screenwriters are Adrian Molina and Matthew Aldrich.
Adrian Molina began his career at Pixar as a 2D animator for Ratatouille. He wrote additional screenplay material for Monsters University and The Good Dinosaur before earning an official screenwriting credit for Coco.Matthew Aldrich got his start writing the 2007 thriller Cleaner, starring Samuel L. Jackson. He has a Special Thanks credit in Finding Dory but earned an official screenwriting credit for Coco not long after.
STRUCTURE OF THE COCO SCRIPT
Here is a Coco synopsis taken from the screenplay.
For the first few pages of the Coco film script, we learn about Miguel’s family history. His great-great-grandfather left his family to pursue a music career, so music is now banned in his household.
In the Coco plot, the inciting incident occurs on Page 26 when Miguel’s grandmother destroys his guitar. It’s this action that leads Miguel to running away from home and entering the Land of the Dead, kickstarting the plot.
Plot Point One
Miguel decides to play music in the plaza, but he needs a guitar. He decides to steal Ernesto de la Cruz’s guitar, at this point believing him to be his great-great-grandfather. From stealing the guitar, Miguel turns into a spirit and is able to enter the Land of the Dead.
The plot of Coco picks up when Miguel enters the Land of the Dead and meets Hector. Hector says he can take Miguel to meet Ernesto, and in return, Miguel has to put up Hector’s picture in his family’s home.
The script of Coco is 130 pages long, and at the midway point, Miguel and Hector retrieve Chicharron’s guitar. More than that, Miguel says that when people aren’t remembered, they enter the “Final Death,” drifting out of the Land of the Dead. Miguel, as well as the audience, learns new information, which will become vital as the plot continues.
Plot Point Two
Miguel gets the chance to go to Ernesto’s house where he introduces himself as his great-great-grandson. Ernesto is ecstatic, and everything seems all right
The build-up to the finale occurs when Hector confronts Ernesto. It’s here Miguel learns the truth. Hector wrote all of Ernesto’s songs, and Hector is also Miguel’s true great-great-grandfather.
Like most Pixar films, Coco has an emotionally-charged climax. Miguel escapes from the Land of the Dead, but the true test comes later when Miguel plays “Remember Me” for Mama Coco. He has to get her to remember her father so that Hector does not disappear into the Final Death, the payoff to what we learned at the midpoint.
With the plot of Coco resolved, everything is the way it should be. Hector is remembered. Ernesto is disgraced. And Miguel’s family embraces his passion for music.
Coco Script Takeaway #1
There is much to be learned from the Coco plot summary above. The first being how you can create an emotional dialogue that brings tears to the audience’s eyes. One way is to write lines that are universally applicable to almost anyone.
When Miguel’s grandmother destroys his guitar, he cuts straight to the heart of the scene by saying, “I don’t wanna be in this family!” It all goes down in Scene 25, which you can read in its entirety below.
How many of us have felt the same way toward our families at one point or another? It probably wasn’t about becoming a musician, but most everyone has felt abandoned by their loved ones at one point or another. It’s a succinct line that encapsulates Miguel’s anger, making his transformation throughout the film all the more striking.
Miguel’s character arc is expressed through dialogue. At the end of the film, Miguel teaches his 10-month old sister about his entire family, saying, “They’re counting on us to remember them.” Through dialogue, the themes of family are perfectly expressed.
Here are some of the other great lines in the Coco Pixar script.
“If there's no one left in the living world to remember you, you disappear from this world. But you can change that!”
“Never forget how much your family loves you.”
“Music tore her family apart. Shoes brought them together.”
“I am not like the rest of my family. There's something that makes me different.”
“We may have our differences, but nothing's more important than family.”
“That is what families are supposed to do, support you. But you never will.”
Family is a persistent theme throughout Coco, and different characters get to espouse their views on the subject through mostly universal quotes that could apply to anyone in the audience.
Coco Script Takeaway #2
Coco is a fantasy film, which means the audience needs to be clued into what the rules are for the Land of the Dead. We hear about different rules at different points throughout the Coco film script, but the best example comes in Scene 55 when Miguel and Hector meet with Chicharron.
The purpose of the scene is to inform Miguel, and the audience, about how when there is no longer anyone to remember someone on Earth, then that person will disappear entirely in the Land of the Dead.
This information is essential later because Hector is at risk of disappearing. However, instead of just delivering this information clunkily, we get it after Miguel has been in this realm for a while. Miguel needs a guitar, and Hector leads him to a friend who can provide it to him. The scene functions perfectly to move the story forward while giving information we’ll need to understand for later.
When looking for a way to deliver exposition to the audience, find a way to incorporate it naturally into the plot. What can your characters be doing that moves the story forward while learning new details about the world they inhabit?
Coco Script Takeaway #3
Your movie ending needs to accomplish several things. You want to deliver a thrilling finale your audience remembers while wrapping up all of the emotional beats of the film. Coco does both with gusto.
First, in Scene 83, we get an action-packed sequence of Ernesto revealing to the rest of the Land of the Dead that he’s a murderer, complete with him getting beat up by a giant cat monsters.
But we know from the beginning that Miguel will return home. After all, it wouldn’t be much of a kids’ movie if a kid died, would it?
Instead, we have another plot that needs to be resolved. Miguel needs to return to Mama Coco and make her remember Hector or else he will go through the Final Death.
Come on. You can’t watch that scene without crying just a little. It hits all the right emotional notes. Coco ends with some fun spectacle followed by genuine emotion, leaving the audience content no matter what they want out of a film.
It’s for this reason everyone who sees it will always remember Coco.
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Coco is a great addition to Pixar's long list of great and memorable screenplays and movies. If you want to read more, we have other great titles, such as Ratatouille, Frozen and The Lion King in our screenplay database. Browse and download PDFs for all of our scripts as you read, write and practice your craft to become the next great screenwriter.