Happy Halloween, dear readers! I felt that I would be remiss to not have another Halloween post, though I don’t have any more haunted stories, unless you counts the ones about being haunted by reality TV. Oh wait, that’s my job. LOL.
No, but really, I’m having loads of fun. And speaking of which!
Since Halloween falls on a Friday this year, my company threw a sort of Halloween party!
We all got to come in our pajamas or costumes, and dress up our dogs for a costume party! There are so many adorable dog costumes out there! I was going to get my dog a Taun Taun costum with a little Luke Skywalker or whatever riding it, but it was $30 because Disney, so I didn’t 😦 But she has an adorable bee costume instead, so all’s good there. The kids find her so cute when they come to the door. I didn’t brign her to work though, cause she gets all noisy and fidgety with lots of people and dogs around.
Anyway, the dog contest was super fun and all the dogs were super cute, as to be expected. And then I went home to hand out Cheetos instead of candy, because candy is too mainstream for me. Loljk,
I also went to the movie The Book of Life, so from here on, it’s a review post! So, uh, spoilers, I guess.
This movie was a treat! And I’m not just saying that because it’s Halloween. I don’t think this movie did well in the critical market, but, then again, almost none of the movies I tend to like seem to be favored among the critics. If nothing else, the visual design is really spectacular, based on Mexican themes of the Day of the Dead and old west ideas of towns, outlaws, and Mexico. Surprisingly, this movie is more culturally accurate (to my knowledge) than a lot of other movies that I’ve seen (*coughDisneyunconvingcough*).
The movie follows the story of two friends, Joaquin and Manolo, who, even from an early age, were both after the attention of their friend Maria. Meanwhile, on the Day of the Dead, the deities of La Meurte and Xibalba (who’s played by Ron Perlman of all people. That dude is one of my spirit celebrities) are walking among the people and having an argument. Xibalba doesn’t want to rule over the land of the forgotten, where people go who are not remembered on the Day of the Dead, because it is a depressing place, while La Meurte’s land of the Remembered is full of life, with parties and color every day. Seeing the rivalry between Joaquin and Manolo, La Muerte and Xibalba place a bet one which boy will end up marrying Maria. If Xibalba wins, he gets to rule the land of the Remembered and if La Muerte wins, he has to stop meddling in the affairs of humans. Which is kind of an unfair wager, now that I think about it.
OH well! The plot moves forward and they all grow up (Maria off screen because they wanted a big reveal and made up some excuse to send her to Europe) to the tune of some pop song as done by a mariachi band, which was a big of a lurch, but whatever. Joaquin grows up to be Channing Tatum! and wears honor and glory and an amazing moustache and rides around beating up bandits. Manolo is trained to be a bull fighter, but his heart really wants him to play guitar. Yeah, we’re dancing that old chestnut. But in this film it works, because you actually care about the characters and you want to see their struggles and their lives outside of do the thing, get the girl, win the points.
You end up liking both boys, and I think that’s the point. Sure, Joaquin is kind of a jerk, but his heart’s in the right place, he’s just suffering from his own kinds of insecurities, while Manolo deals with them by being a little more wimpy, but then again, they’re not supposed to be the same. They’re different personalities, dealing with the legacies of their families in different ways. And I really like that. Neither boy is painted (ha ha, painted. It’s funny cause they all look like wooden dolls for artistry’s sake) as an absolute hero at first, even though the plot is obviously about Manolo, and they both have good and bad qualities. Maria is rather bland, but not in a deal breaking kind of way, more of just a “didn’t get enough character development cause she was gone for half the movie” kind of way.
There isn’t even an actual villain, until the end, despite the movie pretending it’s going to be Xibalba, sort of. Sure, he wants to win the wager really badly. Sure, he cheats to make sure Maria would marry Joaquin. Sure, he’s made of tar and glows green and has a creepy staff, but even with all that, I ended up really liking him by the end. He and La Muerte are an item, when she’s not mad at him, and they are one of the cutest, weirdest couples I’ve seen on screen in a really long time!
Sure, they bicker, but they never do anything to really hurt the other.
Hm. Where was I? Oh yeah, at some point in the plot, Manolo dies and goes to the land of the remembered. It’s really dramatic and very well done. He’s there because he thinks Maria died, but she really didn’t, and that’s where the Xibalba cheating on his bet thing comes into play. Manolo meets all his dead family in a really wild, creative scene that I image taking LSD would cause if the first thing you saw was a sugar skull. When he realizes that Maria isn’t dead and that Xibalba cheated, he goes to the land of the forgotten to find La Muerte and tell her his problems. On the way, he meets the most annoying character in the film. This is the only part I wish they would’ve gotten rid of. There’s another diety called the Candle Maker and he’s in charge of balance or something, and he’s like if the stereotype of god was eaten by Buddah and then vomited out through Zoroaster or something. I don’t know much about Mexican folklore, so I don’t know how much of the deity stuff in this movie is true, except I do know that Xibabla is a place, not a deity, and it’s the Mayan place of the dead and it’s not all that bad. But I digress. The Candle Maker is there to appeal to dumb children or something, because he’s the only one who talks in that annoying American “attitude” of one of those characters that old people think young people like. You know, “cool.” Ugh. Every time he’s on screen I just –
So that’s the biggest problem with the movie.
Xibalba and Manolo make a bet to get Manolo’s life back and there’s this running thing about him not being able to finish the bulls he fights, which is hilarious cause I can’t think of anything other than
So he has a little “be your true self” moment and wins the bet and the three deities give him his life back. Oh, yeah, while all that is going on, there’s some evil bandit guy who comes as close as the movie’s going to get to a villain who is coming to destroy the town because he wants the medal of everlasting life that Xibalba gave to Joaquin. And he kills Manolo’s dad, but that’s not even worth mentioning. It happens so quickly and then you get to see how happy he’s going to be int he afterlife and it’s really not even an emotional scene, so whatever.
Manolo goes back and helps everyone defeat the bandit and then Maria and Manolo get married and Joaquin still gets to be a hero and has a gaggle of girls all vying for his attention so he’ll be fine. And all’s well that ends well. La Muerte and Xibalba make up and get their own kissy scene, which was one of the highlights of the movie, but as I’ve already said, I’m highly invested in their relationship.
So that’s The Book of Life. I highly recommend it, for what that’s worth. It’s better than a lot of the other animation tripe that’s been out there. Don’t even get me started on Disney movie coming out next or week after or whenever. Ugh.
Anyway, my real Halloween treat will be tomorrow, on Dia de Los Muertos! (or All Saint’s Day if you’re boring) A group of us are going to see the Dracula ballet!! And if you haven’t heard of that . . . well, you probably don’t live in the Denver Metro area. But no matter! For I will reveal all tomorrow!