Hola amigo! My two banditos and I just experienced the new Jorge R. Gutierrez animated film The Book of Life. I use the term “experience” with purpose, as this child-friendly flick is just that, an auditory and visual treat. There’s also that bit about Dia de los Muertos (The Day of the Dead) and always following your heart. The Book of Life is a celebración of Mexican culture, specifically the Day of the Dead holiday observed throughout Latin America and other parts of the world.
Gutierrez frames his tale through the eyes of children on a museum field trip. Their tour guide (Christina Applegate) tells the story of three childhood friends whose romantic fates are gambled on by two leaders of the spiritual underworld. The beautiful La Muerte (Kate del Castillo) is ruler of The Land of the Remembered, a place where the deceased are celebrated by their living relatives and friends. She chooses Manolo (Diego Luna) as her champion. Manolo is a reluctant bull fighter with dreams of musicianship and the hand of Maria (Zoë Saldana). Maria, while desired by many a suitor, is a modern woman. She is strong and smart. The third wheel is brave Joaquin (Channing Tatum), the protector of the small town they all live in. Xibalba (Ron Perlman), who’s the ruler of The Land of the Forgotten, wagers that Joaquin will win the hand of Maria and stops at nothing to ensure his success.
Gutierrez shows off his designing prowess by drawing characters and creatures as hand-carved wooden, toy-like figures. The staggering attention to detail and the vibrant coloring are veritable eye-candy pieces that are worthy the price of admission alone. Tying it all together is a refreshing soundtrack of latino flavor covers of popular music spanning multiple genres and decades.
Kids are sure to love The Book of Life and it will likely earn a spot next to The Nightmare before Christmas as a Halloween staple in many family libraries. But don’t take just my word for it. My two banditos had their entertainment appetite satiated long after the aforementioned “experience”. The material, even though based in themes on death, manages to be safe enough for three years old and exciting enough to hold the attention of a six year old. Adults will just sit there and smile.
You can win an awesome The Book of Life inspired prize pack that includes a mini-guitar, keepsake box and $25 gift card to see the film in theaters! Enter to win!