The story begins outside a dusty old museum with a rag-tag bunch of temperamental children showing up for a tour and delightful guide, with long hair and a sexy smile showing them a hidden doorway.
With the help of wooden puppets she begins telling the old Mexican folktale of Manolo (Diego Luna), Joaquin (Channing Tatum) and Maria (Zoe Saldana).
As children the three are the best of friends, playfully teasing each other, both boys already in love with Maria, but on the Day of the Dead the stunning La Muerta (Kate del Castillo), the ruler of the Land of the Remembered, bets Xibalba (Ron Perlman), the lord of the Land of the Forgotten, that one day gentle Manolo will marry Maria.
Xibalba champions the adventurous Joaquin and decides to stack the odds in his favour, so he cheats and gives Joaquin a mystical medal.
The children grow up, each following the path their parents envisions them too, but when Maria returns from boarding school, things change, rules are broken and death happens.
But in this charming story, death isn’t permanent, love triumphs and staying true to oneself is the biggest victory of course there is a happy ending, moral and all.
The Book of Life is an original take on a predictable tale with the colourful take on Mexican artwork adding to its appeal. The figures look like they have been carved from wood and painted in as many colours as possible, but tasteful and endearingly so.
And even if the adventure down to the land of the forgotten may be a little scary for some of the more junior viewers, the happy and huggable Candle Maker (Ice Cube) lightens the mood ensuring that darkness never prevails for long.
With it’s 3D imaging and unusual design The Book of Life is an enjoyable film for everyone in the family and a brilliant Halloween treat.