The Book of Life: a new Halloween classic!

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The Book of Life:  a new Halloween classic!

Six years ago I attended a work party dressed as Katrina, the female skeletal figure in a big hat that is iconic to Dia de los Muertos.  No one had ever seen anything like it and were properly freaked out by my colorful but spooky visage.  Fast forward and it seems like the Mexican holiday to remember and honor dead loved ones is in overkill.  I for one felt the imagery for the holiday had clearly jumped the shark last year when Oriental Trading Company had a whole section devoted to it with everything from costumes to candy.

Now it seems even Disney has found a way to market Dia de los Muertos with its newest animated feature “The Book of Life”.  And contrary to me being sick of yet another day of the dead (literal translation) marketing ploy, I am happy to report that Disney magic has struck again!  But the Latin tradition is just a jumping off point for a movie that mixes in liberal doses of Greek mythology and good old Shakespeare, too.

Manolo, Maria and Joaquin are the best of childhood friends.  Yet from the very beginning it is a love triangle with both boys vying for the beautiful and feisty Maria’s attentions.  Fast forward to the trio as adults and nothing has changed.  In fact if anything, the love and rivalry for Maria’s affections has only increased.  Now Joaquin has realized his dream of being a great, decorated soldier.  Manolo has followed in his forefathers’ footsteps of being a matador but most reluctantly for his childhood dream of being a musician is still frowned upon by his father.

Everything changes when Manolo steals away with Maria and they are both bit by a snake.  Maria survives while Manolo dies.  Suddenly he finds himself in an afterlife that is a colorful, noisy fiesta on steroids.  Reunited with his dead mother, he would be happy in The Land of Remembrance if not for one thing:  Maria.  When it is discovered that his death was the result of cheating on a bet between to unworldly characters, the race is on to set things right and rejoin the land of the living.

“The Book of Life” is simply gorgeous!  It is fun sprinkled with just enough Spanish to give it flavor without alienating English speaking audiences.  The cast reads like a Who’s Who with Channing Tatum as Manolo, Diego Luna as  Manolo and Zoe Saldana as Maria with Ron Perlman, Gabriel Iglesias, Cheech Marin, Hector Elizondo, Danny Trejo, Christina Applegate, Ice Cube, Placido Domingo and Kate del Castillo in supporting roles. 

Adults in particular will enjoy the Latin treatment contemporary music gets in a truly delightful score.  And in true Disney fashion, lessons are learned about life, death and the belief that no one is gone forever as long as they live in your heart and mind.  It is family entertainment at its very best.  Viva “The Book of Life”!


“The Book of Life” pens 4 Red Vines for being a new Halloween classic


Previews of these movies were provided to me by the studios but it in no way affects my unbiased review.