Screened Out – The Book of Life

By : Stephen Miller
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Voices of Diego Luna, Zoe Saldana, Christina Applegate, Channing Tatum, Ice Cube, Kate del Castillo, Ron Perlman

The Book of Life is a colorful, vibrant celebration of Mexican culture – eye popping and full of frenetic energy. When other studios seem to make films primarily to peddle plastic merchandise (I’m talking to you, Disney), The Book of Life sells us civilization and anthropology, which is much more fascinating. Sure, the story is elementary, and the animators take a seductively simple approach. However, the textures, the energy, and the heart make this Day of the Dead cartoon a lively visit to the cinema.

It’s based on a folk tale – one with the Mexican spirit of remembrance, La Muerta (del Castillo), in her constant love/hate relationship with dark, devilish Xibaba (Perlman). They place a wager on three youths – the fiery beauty (Saldana), and her two beaus (Luna and Tatum). The deities wager who will win Saldana’s heart. Tatum plans to become a brave hero. Luna wants to be a troubadour, but his family urges him to follow tradition and become a matador.

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