Things have been pretty quiet in the theatres when it comes to kids movies lately with only BoxTrolls available to hold the fort down until Disney’s next release. But never fear that’s all about to change with the beautifully animated and charming movie The Book of Life. Set against the backdrop of Mexico’s Day of the Dead holiday, the film is a lively animated tale that takes age-old myths and brings warm and heartfelt quality to the characters.
The Book of Life follows three childhood friends – Manolo (Diego Luna) who tries to please his family, as well as satisfy his passion for playing music, Joaquin (Channing Tatum) who lives in his father’s shadow and Maria (Zoe Saldana) the feisty and fearless girl they love. Their fates are toyed with by La Muerte (Kate del Castillo), who oversees the Land of the Remembered, and Xibalba (Ron Perlman), ruler of the Land of the Forgotten taking them on an adventure that takes viewers on a journey through Mexican culture and the Day of the Dead.
We took our five year old and three year old to see this film (girl and boy). They loved the bright colours and story line. They spent lots of time cheering for the heroes and booing the bad guys. Though we worried about the scenes that included the Sanchez family skeletons in the Land of the Remembered, both children ended up more afraid of the over-the-top villain who threatened the villagers. Keep in mind, though it is an incredible movie to watch in 3D small children are probably better off watching it in a regular theatre. We heard a lot of, “Why is the movie blurry?” followed with, “please put the glasses back on” from people in the theatre.
My husband, who groans at children’s movies, was delighted by the animation – not Disneyesque, the fact it had enough adult humour to balance the childlike qualities and the clever twist on the music. I liked that it spoke about death in way that wasn’t scary for little children and that they gave Maria strength and courage to stand up for what was right instead of letting her be simply another rescued ‘princess’ and introduced us to the vibrant Day of the Dead celebrations.
That’s a Wrap:
If you are looking for a seasonal film that is a delight for the senses and doesn’t have a complicated story line this is the movie for your family. Be aware that, depending on your child’s sensitivity, they might find the scenes in the Land of the Remembered scary, as the characters are depicted as traditional Day of the Dead skeletons in brightly coloured clothing.