Monday 16 February 2015

The Book of Life

Buenos días mis amigos. Out now on Blu-Ray and DVD comes The Book of Life, starring Diego Luna, Zoe Saldana and Channing Tatum. It's produced by Guillermo del Toro and directed by Jorge Gutierrez. and is a burrito shaped Kaleidoscope of colour, music, energy and loveliness. Which is terrible because reviewing films that are good, is so much harder than simply hating them.

A bus full of cartoon children arrives at a museum and are greeted by a sexy cartoon lady called Mary Beth (Christina Applegate). She steals an illusionary trick from Labyrinth, or Dark Crystal or one of those, and takes the children into a dark back room where she explains the various stories of Mexican mythology to them. The story of the film revolves around some easily merchandisable toy dolls that she happens to have nearby.

The story is a love story, and concerns two small boys and a young girl and eventually an amusing pig with an amusing bark. The boys, Manolo and Joaquín are in love. Not with each other, but with the prettiest girl in town María (Saldana). The reason Christina Applegate shows them the lives of these two young boys and their potential wife is due to two gods. They have an interest in the affairs of humans as they enjoy betting on events. The Ruler of the Land of the Remembered is La Muerte (Kate del Castillo) who is the wife or something of Xibalba: ruler of the Land of the Forgotten (Ron Perlman). They are basically in charge of a kind of Mexican heaven where everyone is a Mexican skeleton or a hellish Mexican dusty man. One of the things I liked about this film is that the two opposing forces aren’t particularly good or evil. The ‘bad’ guy is a charming but mischievous character, and though he tells fibs you don’t get the feeling that he’s deluded enough to think he’s gonna get away with anything, and he doesn’t do very much harm, except a couple of brief temporary murders.

Manolo, descended from nothing but bullfighters but with a passion for Indie Rock from the 90s and 00s, is representing the passionate romantic kinda guy that loves Radiohead covers more than watching bulls being killed into tacos. Joaquín also represents an attractive man archetype but has a magic evil medal that protects him from harm, but doesn’t protect him from being a sexist prick from time to time in place of genuine charm. The kind’ve person who would definitely put his cock in your face while you were asleep, but you wouldn’t be able to bring yourself to be annoyed at him.

It was around this time that my days of working too much started to catch up on me, my friend who I watch these things with hadn’t made it so I had no one with me. Usually there’s someone with me to ensure that I’d be too embarrassed to fall asleep in case I drool on them. From here on in the film is five times as colourful as ever before. Danny Trejo appears at one point because it’s a film about Mexicans and then Ice Cube appears as an amusing but disappointing cameo as a friendly yellow santa man with a beard made out of clouds. It felt miscast for me, primarily because I can’t figure out why anyone in Mexico would fabricate a religion with a token black guy playing the unusual role of token white guy in an otherwise predominantly Mexican heaven.

I’m not sure what happened at the end really as I say I started to dribble and black out but I assume it was a happy ending, and I left feeling like it was an animated, good natured love story with a supernatural twist aimed at neither adults or children in particular. Like Hugo or [some sort’ve lazy pedophile joke]. I get the feeling it’s called the Book of Life, and not the ballad of Maria and Her Two Stalkers so they can have a different story for a sequel which I would welcome. Kids are idiots but this film was awesome.

Era Muy Bueno, 4/5.


Dave Roberts

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