‘The Book of Life’ fun celebration of Mexican culture

Jackson French

Virtually guaranteed to be pure joy for children, “The Book of Life” still offers plenty for adults. This vibrant, animated fantasy is deeply rooted in Mexican myth and culture and frenetically undertakes a captivating adventure through a series of awe-inspiring settings.  

Gorgeous, creatively designed characters and environments populate this movie’s world. The artwork makes the film look like a moving storybook and it’s enough to suck you in. 

“The Book of Life” isn’t just about looks, though. A compelling story lurks within the presentation. When two young men compete for the affection of Maria, voiced by Zoe Saldana, their love triangle becomes more complicated as two deities bet on the outcome. The gods add an interesting supernatural element, which becomes a major fixture in the movie’s second half. Throughout the story, there’s plenty of jumping back and forth between the land of the living and two different afterlives. Each locale treats the eyes and amplifies the adventurous mood.

Though “The Book of Life” caters to what children want in a movie, there aren’t quite enough concessions made for adults. Most of the characters aren’t especially interesting and the film’s tense segments switch between pulse-pounding and overly silly. An overabundance of sappy songs, including a part where music is annoyingly used to defeat a dangerous enemy, makes it hard to stay invested at times. These bumps in the road fortunately don’t pop up too often and the movie remains a dazzling experience.  

Even if there are a number of things in “The Book of Life” that will make the adults in the audience roll their eyes, there’s still enough charm, humor and skillfully executed narrative packed into this film to make it a fun and rewarding adventure.