If there is something I love in an animated movie, it's a story that takes us to other worlds and lets audiences dive into the cultures of foreign countries. It's always nice to see audiences learning about peoples traditions around the world. So, I'll be happy to say that you might enjoy "The Book of Life". However, I'll just say that this movie has flaws. A lot of them. Some of them actually did annoy me to the point where I began to think that I would hate the film overall. Luckily, that was not the case. I'll get to why this movie has some problems in a little bit, but first, let me tell you the story of the film.
As a bunch of students from a school is given a secret museum tour, the tour lady begins to tell them the tale revolving around the Book of Life. It revolves around two boys named Manolo (Diego Luna) and Joaquín (Channing Tatum) trying to win the hand of the lovely girl María (Zoe Saldana) unaware that the boys are actually part of a bet made by the spirits who rule the Land of the Remembered and Forgotten respectively, La Muerte (Kate del Castillo) and Xibalba (Ron Perlman). Though both try to get her hand, neither seems to succeed due to the problems of their families. However, when an incident involving María seems to get her killed, Manolo decides that he wants to see her with all his heart, unaware that he will be accidentally sent to the Land of the Remembered by Xibalba. After discovering the wager and realizes that Xibalba cheated, Manolo swears to try to get back to the Land of the Living in order to protect the village from an incoming danger which I won't spoil.
At first, when the film started, I will admit that I wasn't exactly getting into the film. Though its story had started with promise, some annoying moments which will be brought up in a bit really were getting on my nerves. However, when our lead gets to the Land of the Remembered, the film really picked up its pace and became both exciting and funny. I loved how much creativity was put into the movie and the cultural elements that were put into the movie though I feel that some elements could have been treated with more respect which is strange considering this is from a Mexican director with help from famed director Guillermo del Toro. As for its animation, this was definitely the highlight of the movie. It's absolutely beautiful. There was so much color and life put into it leading to some very eye-popping moments. As for the characters, they have some charm to them. I think my favorite character in the movie was Maria. I loved how she actually had some toughness put into her and Zoe Saldana really put a lot of edge to her making her very relatable. Now let's get to my problems. One was the music choice. Considering this film is set in Mexico, there were some weird moments were music like Ode to Joy and Carmen were played and just left me scratching my head. Some of the humor at the beginning was also a little immature and did annoy me though it heavily improved when we got to the Land of the Remembered. I also feel that the film won't be timeless. For example, Maira states while she was in Europe she took fencing lessons which made sense, though later during the climax, she also says she learned kung fu. Wait, hold on a second. Kung fu? Where did that come from? Elements like that made no sense. However, what really annoyed me about the film were the song choices. Throughout the movie, they put in some mariachi covers of songs like "I Will Wait" by Mumford and Sons and even "Creep" by Radiohead. I mean seriously? Who in the world wants to hear a mariachi cover of Creep? I really don't know who and in all honesty, don't want to know. That's really all the flaws I had.
"The Book of Life" does have a lot of problems, but luckily the film did improve and allowed me to give this film a recommendation. Though the story does have a slow start, it does improve and its animation is definitely what makes it worth watching. When you watch it though, just be prepared to sit through a few less than stellar moments.