Story

The Book of Life is the story of three children who live in the Mexican town of San Angel. Manolo (voiced by Diego Luna), Maria (Zoe Saldana) and Joaquin (Channing Tatum) are best friends and spend their days play fighting with each other. But pressure from their families forces the three children onto different paths. Maria is sent to Europe, Joaquin joins the army, and Manolo becomes a bull fighter like his father.

Many years later, when the children have grown up, Maria returns to town. Both Manolo and Joaquin love Maria and want to marry her. They both try to win her hand in marriage. Spirits Xibalba and La Muerte decide to bet on who will win. But just as Maria is about to make her choice, the evil Xibalba interferes. Manolo is sent to the Land of the Remembered, and he must confront his fears and learn to be himself if he ever wants to see Maria again.

Themes

Day of the Dead: death of a parent; death of a loved one; family breakdown; the supernatural; bull fighting

Violence

The Book of Life has some violence. For example:

  • The children often play fight with wooden swords.
  • The movie has a lot of cartoon violence. Bandits attack the town, and soldiers fight them off with swords and bombs. Joaquin becomes a soldier and fights many people with his sword. This violence is often shown as heroic and manly.
  • Manolo and his family are bull fighters. Manolo’s father tries to get Manolo to kill the bull with his sword, but Manolo doesn’t want to. His father says that if Manolo doesn’t kill the bull, he will dishonour the family. 
  • Xibalba’s snake bites Manolo and kills him.
  • Manolo and Joaquin have a sword fight over Maria.
  • Some of the characters slap each other. 
  • The movie ends with a big battle between the townspeople and a bandit army. This ends with a big bomb explosion.

Content that may disturb children

Under 5
In addition to the violent scenes mentioned above, The Book of Life has some scenes that could scare or disturb children under five years. For example:

  • Death is a common theme in the movie. The movie is about the Day of the Dead and it features two underworlds, the Land of the Remembered and the Land of the Forgotten. The movie also shows ghosts, skeletons, graveyards and beheaded figures, which might scare children. 
  • Xibalba and La Muerte are scary spirits that might frighten young children. Xibalba is an evil spirit who sends his snake to do his bidding. La Muerte is a nicer spirit, but she looks like a skeleton. 
  • There are many deaths in this movie. Manolo’s mother and Joaquin’s father have both died. Also, Maria is thought to be dead and Manolo dies but is eventually returned to the land of the living. 
  • When Maria is sent away, all the children cry and are very upset. This might be upsetting for young children. 
  • When Manolo dies and travels to the Land of the Remembered, he turns into a skeleton man. He also has to fight a huge demonic bull. These scenes might be scary for children.

From 5-8
Children in this age group might also be scared or disturbed by the scenes mentioned above.

From 8-13
Some children might be scared or disturbed by some of the scenes mentioned above, but there is little of concern for this age group.

Over 13
Nothing of concern

Sexual references

The Book of Life has some sexual references. For example:

  • Both Manolo and Joaquin flirt with Maria.
  • Manolo’s band sings, ‘Do you think I’m sexy?’

      Alcohol, drugs and other substances

      The Book of Life shows some use of substances. For example:

      • Some characters drink at parties and at dinner, but it isn’t clear whether they’re drinking alcohol.
      • One of the band members seems drunk and says, ‘We have been to four bars’.

        Nudity and sexual activity

        The Book of Life has some sexual activity, including when Manolo and Maria kiss.

          Product placement

          None of concern

          Coarse language

          The Book of Life has some coarse language that young children might imitate.

          Ideas to discuss with your children

          The Book of Life is an enjoyable animated movie about the Day of the Dead, which is a Mexican holiday. 

          It is ideal for children aged 10 years and over and is a great chance for children to learn more about the beliefs and celebrations of another culture. Maria is also an excellent role model for young girls, because she is brave, smart and stands up for herself.

          Because of the themes, scary elements and violence in this movie, it isn’t recommended for children under 6 years. We also recommend parental guidance for children aged 6-10 years.

          The main messages from this movie are to be yourself and follow your heart.

          Values in this movie that you could reinforce with your children include bravery, kindness and forgiveness. This movie could also give you the chance to talk with your children about the importance of not solving conflicts with violence.