Short films are good calling cards for filmmakers, many of whom wind up adapting those smaller projects to feature size. Animated movies often do something similar but as a calling card for moviegoers. A short film or brief clip teasing a big release arrives way ahead of the finished feature in order to whet the audience’s appetite. Remember our first look at Frozen? There’s now, via Yahoo Movies, a fairly similar bit of marketing from Disney promoting Pixar’s Coco.
Titled Dante’s Lunch: A Short Tail, this early test sequence, which may or may not be in the actual movie, introduces us more fully to Dante, the pet Xolo of Coco‘s main character, Miguel. It’s a simple scenario of dog finds bone, bone has a mind of its own, dog chases bone until bone reattaches itself to its skeleton source. And because Coco is centered around Mexico’s Day of the Dead, that skeleton has a life of its own as well, and Dante just sees in him more bones for chewing.
Even more than the Frozen teaser, Dante’s Lunch reminds me a lot of the Scrat parts of the Ice Age movies. Could Dante’s interest in misplaced skeleton bones be a running gag, like Scrat trying to get his acorn? And will Coco be filled with more slapstick like this? From Pixar, we expect there will be a good mix of the serious and silly, but we’ll see when the movie opens on November 22. Here are some quotes from director Lee Unkrich on the movie’s premise and Dante’s part followed by the recent teaser trailer:
“I liken it to a big yearly family reunion that kind of spans the gap between the living and the dead, and there’s something really beautiful about that notion of not having to say good-bye to anyone and knowing that they’re going to be back every year.”
“I fell in love with the people — I fell in love with this beautiful celebration and how it’s celebrated here in the United States and down in Mexico. We ended up embracing the celebration a thousand percent in the kind of story that we told. I didn’t want to feel like we were just kind of grafting any old story into that world, so we’ve crafted a story that really could only take place during Dìa de Muertos.”
“[The Xolo] figures very prominently in Aztec legends about the afterlife. It was said that in order to make the journey through the afterlife, you needed to have one of these Xolo dogs with you … [Dante’s] tongue is almost its own character, separate from him.”