Given that half-term means all our normal scheduled child-busying activities weren’t on, Weasel and I decided to go to the cinema to check out The Book of Life. I’d love to say this was some kind of informed decision, like I thought “I hear there’s a new film produced by Guillermo del Toro, that should be sufficiently dark and disturbing”. But no, it was the one on at the right time (time to go to the supermarket first and enough time after to get to pick up the Ninja from nursery, so domestic) and wasn’t over lunchtime. The alternative to The Book of Life was Boxtrolls, which contains the word ‘trolls’ and brings flashbacks to that scene in Harry Potter for poor Weasel (naughty parents forgot about that scene and maybe 2.5 is a wee bit young for the wizard’s adventures). I have to admit, I wasn’t sure I wanted to see it after the annoying film trailer with the most annoying voice ever (who turns out to be the story-teller, Christina Applegate, and for those of us of a certain age, of Married…with Children fame).
What’s It All About? The film centres around the Day of the Dead, a holiday/belief system in which ancestors are remembered and celebrated (please forgive my inability to describe an entire belief system based on a kids film and Wikipedia article!) and of course, a love story. It’s all about working together, family and love, which works for me as a kids film theme. The central character Maria (Weasel’s favourite character because “she’s got long hair”), is a powerful, well-educated female figure, although I do wish they didn’t feel the need to give her obscenely huge doe eyes and an impossible figure. A feminist that doesn’t have massive bosoms and minuscule waist, I guess, was a step to far.
Is it a bit scary? Knowing nothing about the film going in, I did get a bit worried as skeletons and ghouls started showing up on screen. Strangely Weasel didn’t seem fussed at all at all the dead people. I did ask afterwards if she was frightened at all by all the skeletons and ghosts, she replied that she didn’t know what I was talking about. The glowing eyes and macabre makeup didn’t scare her because she thought they were dressed up in Halloween costumes. The only bit she jumped at weirdly is a scene with a snake.
Verdict: I’d definitely recommend the film for young ones and adults. I don’t think young kids read as much into the scary bits as we do and just think it’s a bit of fun. The bright colours, awesome music (seriously, they cover Radiohead in a mariachi- stylee), a nice mix of Spanish that kids could pick up, strong female characters and messages of friendship and love throughout, this is a film I’d happily let my kids see again. And with actual real proper acting, you won’t be going through errand lists in your head or grinding your teeth to drown out the horror of watching another crappy kids’ film.