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Director: Jorge R. Gutierrez
Writers: Jorge R. Gutierrez and Douglas Langdale
Cast: Diego Luna, Zoe Saldana, Channing Tatum, Ron Perlman, Christina Applegate, Ice Cube
Studio: 20th Century Fox

“The Book of Life” has the Guillermo Del Toro production stamp all over it. While this is one of the animation productions that he oversees, I don’t want to count out Guiterrez’s influence over the design. The choice to have wooden puppet looking living figures vs. the skeletal dead is interesting. But, I feel that we get a basic setup before we’re plunged into the love affair between Maria and her manly lover. A troubadour breaks down Radiohead’s “Creep” for kids while there are a few Morricone cues to remind adults that this isn’t your typical kid movie. Then, that damn pig slides into the scene.

Animated movies about the supernatural tend to either go silly or way too macabre for kids. However, “The Book of Life” finds a happy medium that allows the Latino community to have their Halloween holidays shown to the greater world. Cheech Marin and Hector Elizondo show up in supportive roles and they do decent work. However, I found my mind starting to wander about an hour into it. While I appreciate what I was seeing, the main plot was pretty derivative and the visuals saved the film more often than not.

The film plays to older kids with its romantic plot and push through the Day of the Dead. There are a few decent scares, but it’s nothing that I could see keeping anyone around the age of 8 and up from watching the film. I’d just hesitate before I took the very young kids out to the Multiplex. Also, I didn’t care for Ice Cube in his brief role as the comic relief. The jokes felt forced and his character stuck out like a sore thumb. When Channing Tatum can blend into a Latino themed movie before Ice Cube, that is pretty bizarre.


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