Socorro Rivera, better known as Mamá Coco, is the titular character of the 2017Disney/Pixar animated feature film, Coco. She is a warm-hearted, supportive, and kind woman who is Miguel's great-grandmother. She suffers from a degenerating memory, but doesn't let that interfere with her happiness.
Mamá Coco is Miguel's cherished great-grandmother. She is very old and fragile, but that doesn't stop Miguel from sharing his daily adventures with her.
Role in the film
Mamá Coco is introduced as the daughter of Imelda and an unnamed musician who left Imelda with Coco when she was three, after the latter decided to pursue a career in music and never returned. Because of this, Imelda enforced a ban on music in her family and raised Coco herself in a family business of shoemaking. In the present, Coco is the beloved great-grandmother of Miguel and is the only member who listens to his hopes and dreams. Despite the outcast status of her father among the Riveras, Coco still remembers her father and thinks of him fondly. Like Miguel, she doesn't approve of her mother's ban on music but is not vocal about it. However, her declining health and memory is a growing concern for her daughter Elena, who becomes more worried and protective of her mother even when the old woman fails to recognize her.
On Día de Los Muertos, Coco is overseeing her family's ofrenda, on top of which is the portrait of Coco with her parents, including Coco's disgraced father. After Dante accidentally shakes the ofrenda and causes the portrait to shatter, Miguel spots the man in the portrait holding a guitar identical to the guitar of Ernesto de la Cruz. Seeing the portrait causes Mamá Coco to react and confirm the figure is her father. Miguel, believing Coco meant that de la Cruz is her father, takes this as a sign to fulfill his dream of becoming a musician. Unfortunately, this leads to an argument between Miguel and the rest of the family, and Abuelita smashes his guitar, which in turn leads Miguel to try to steal Ernesto's guitar so he can play in the plaza like Ernesto. Because of his hasty act, Miguel becomes cursed and transformed into a spirit.
While in the Land of the Dead, Miguel learns that Coco's missing father is actually Héctor and tried to come home to her and Imelda all those years ago, but his selfish music partner Ernesto murdered him and stole his songs to achieve fame. Meanwhile back in the Land of the Living, Coco's memory, including of Héctor, is fading, and so will Héctor if Coco completely forgets him and passes away as she's the last person among the living who remembers him. Miguel, Héctor, Imelda, and the deceased Riveras plan to send Héctor's photo back with Miguel so that Coco can remember him and pass down his memory to the living Riveras. Unfortunately, the photo is lost in the struggle with Ernesto and Miguel, in danger of being trapped in the Land of the Dead permanently if he stays any longer, is sent home empty-handed. Miguel rushes back to the Rivera residence with Héctor's stolen guitar and, despite Abuelita's objections, bursts into Coco's room to see that Coco has become catatonic. Miguel tries to get Coco to remember by showing her the old photo and her father's guitar but to no avail. When the rest of the family enters, Abuelita (not realizing that he's trying to help her come to her senses) orders Miguel to apologize to Coco, but as he does so, his foot nudges Héctor's guitar.
Remembering how Héctor told him of the song he wrote especially for his daughter, Miguel tearfully picks up Héctor's guitar and plays "Remember Me" to Coco, telling her it is from her father. The song brings Coco back to her senses, and she recognizes her great-grandson and daughter, who tears up. Revitalized by her father's music, Coco is motivated to reveal her father's identity, along with the letters he sent to her as a child before his murder and the torn section of their family portrait that has his face. All this evidence respectively grants Héctor the recognition he was robbed of from Ernesto as the Riveras reconcile with Miguel and accept music back into the family now that they know more of Coco's father.
Sometime before the next Dia de Los Muertos, Coco passed away (much to Abuelita's sadness) and her photo is also placed on the ofrenda. Reunited with her parents, uncles, husband, sister-in-law, and other daughter in the Land of the Dead, Coco embraces her father and later accompanies them on their visit to the Land of the Living. Coco stands next to Abuelita as they proudly watch Miguel, Abel, and Rosa perform a song to the family.
In the novelization (which depicts her backstory in four chapters), the music ban by her mother did not stop Coco from dancing secretly. Music is also how she and Julio met and fell in love at the Mariachi Plaza (the same one their great-grandson would often sneak off to). Julio loved her so much to willingly give up music. Coco also hid her musical passion in the same hidden attic as Miguel. When she suffered a dancing-related injury which scared her daughters, she fully lived through the music ban from then on. She is also responsible for Miguel's love of music by humming a song to him when he was an infant.
Miguel's resemblance to Héctor probably helped Coco maintain her memory of her father in her autumn years.
Though it is never explicitly stated, Coco's failing memory is likely attributed to her having Alzheimer's disease, as evidenced by her inability to recognize her daughter at the beginning of the film and mistaking Miguel for her late husband, as well as her limited mobility.
Mamá Coco's first appearance as an old lady, in her eponymous film.