Coming to theatres this Friday in time for the holidays from director/writer Jorge R. Gutierrez and Twentieth Century Fox Animation comes THE BOOK OF LIFE.
This film tells the story of Manolo (voiced by Diego Luna), a young man who comes from a family of bull fighters. That is a little difficult, especially since Manolo wants to play music! Then there is Joaquin (voiced by Channing Tatum), a young man who wants to be the town larger than life soldier. Manolo and Joaquin have been friends since childhood.
They are both in love with Maria (voiced by Zoe Saldana). When these three were young, she was sent away to become a lady by her father. Manolo and Joaquin profess that they will each wait for her return.
What they don’t know is that fate has something in store for them. La Muerte (voiced by Kate del Castillo) and love Xibalba (Ron Perlman) have decided to place a bet on the three. La Muerte says that Manolo with marry Maria and Xibalba believes that it will be Joaquin. To make things a little more interesting, Xibalba gives Joaquin a badge that will protect him from all harm.
Now Maria has returned home and Manolo professes his life. But Joaquin jumps a tad bit faster and proposes. After a snake bite, Manolo dies and is reunited with his family but once again by the trick of Xibalba.
Manolo must make his own bet to come back and save the town from an angry foe Chakal and get Maria back in his arms!
FINAL WORD: Luna as Manolo is sweet enough. Wanting to get the girl but his overbearing friend gets in the way is a pretty pat story. Gullible at times and afraid to stand up for himself at other times is the standard for this storyline.
Saldana as Maria has an accent one moment and then doesn’t the next. Portraying her character as a modern and progressive woman she doesn’t want to be a prize. Of course while studying art and reading abroad Maria manages time to learn sword fighting and kung fu – yea, pretty much lost me on that one.
Tatum as Joaquin doesn’t have an accent as all. Not sure how that plays if these are indigenous people to South America. Love ya CT and this is no reflection on you because the character did make me laugh. After all, charming characters is what you do well!
Castillo as La Muerte is charming and her costume is lovely. That being said I can’t hang with someone who bets on children’s lives with someone she didn’t trust in the first place! Of course this would be Xibalba voiced by Perlman, a sneaky and sly character who lies through his teeth to win.
Other cast: Christina Applegate as Mary Beth, Hector Elizondo as Carlos Sanchez, Danny Trejo as Skeleton Luis, Carlos Alazraqui as General posada, Ana de la Reguera as Skeleton Carmen, Gabriel Inglesias as Pepe Rodriguez, Cheech Marin as Pancho Rodriguez, and Placido Domingo as Skeleton Jorge.
TUBS OF POPCORN: I give THE BOOK OF LIFE three tubs of popcorn out of five. I can see the appeal of the film although I wasn’t totally invested in it. I thought the pig was really cute and the kids in the museum funny. I have to agree with Brat on the point that it doesn’t need 95 minutes to tell what really is an obvious story.
Film Brat: It has its jokes here and there but I’m not sure how Mumford & Sons fits into the Day of the Dead. The story doesn’t need almost two hours to tell either, especially since it’s fairly predictable after the first 15 minutes. I already knew how it was going to end so it loses me as the film goes along.
The animation is definitely colorful with a few characters that have some humor to offer. I hate being underwhelmed by an animated film but THE BOOK OF LIFE just didn’t give me anything new or creative. The crowd in the theatre had children everywhere and they weren’t interested in anything but the pig! The ideals and story was just a little over their heads and dealing with stories about dead family members wasn’t attractive for them.
In the end – it’s what you do that makes it into the book of life!