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part of a small rebellion | by maryann johanson

The Book of Life movie review: what’s a woman for?

The Book of Life yellow light

The animation is fresh, unique, and gorgeous. But we don’t need another tale of a man having exciting adventures while a woman waits around to marry him.
I’m “biast” (pro): nothing

I’m “biast” (con): nothing

(what is this about? see my critic’s minifesto)

The animation, a CGI explosion of Mexican folkloric motifs, is fresh, unique, and gorgeous, if the design is at times so frenetic and overstuffed that it threatens sensory overload. The story the animation is used to tell, however, is so familiar as to be blandly generic, and totally unsurprising in both its overarching themes and its specific details.

Two deities who oversee realms of the afterlife — La Muerte (the voice of Kate del Castillo), who rules the Land of the Remembered, and Xibalba (the voice of Ron Perlman: Percy Jackson: Sea of Monsters, Pacific Rim), who rules the Land of the Forgotten — place a bet (“the greatest wager in history”!) over which literally square-jawed mountain of manhood pretty Maria (the voice of Zoe Saldana: Guardians of the Galaxy, Out of the Furnace) will take as a husband; the outcome of the bet will determine whether the deities switch realms or not. Will she choose sensitive Manolo (the voice of Diego Luna: Elysium, Contraband), whose father is pushing him to go into the family business of bullfighting but who would rather be a musician? Or will she choose lunkheaded Joaquin (the voice of Channing Tatum: 22 Jump Street, The Lego Movie), who dreams of vanquishing enemies on a battlefield?

If you imagined that the fact that Maria’s decision will impact the entire afterlife would mean her story is the centerpiece here, oh, you don’t know today’s Hollywood at all. Maria is present only to be pretty and to support the journey of the man who will eventually win her as a prize. Maria is barely a character: we know she “likes books,” and eventually a couple of her interesting skills will be revealed… just in time to help the hero further his personal journey. Maria’s “rebellious nonsense” — basically, she wants to be her own person — is punished and ultimately squashed. The hero’s is eventually embraced and celebrated. Either Joaquin or Manolo will get to save the town from rampaging bandits, conquer his biggest fear, and gain the love of the woman of his dreams. Maria? She’ll get to be married.

Lest there be any doubt that filmmaker Jorge R. Gutierrez — an animator and TV writer making his feature debut — and his coscreenwriter Douglas Langdale (Happily N’Ever After) don’t think women are very interesting, consider this: One long sequence involves one of the men taking a trip into the Land of the Remembered, which is populated by those who’ve died but are still remembered by someone still alive. Here he encounters a long series of his ancestors… his male ancestors, who’ve all done amazing and heroic things. Eventually he runs into his own departed mother, and the point is clear: women are not generally worth remembering, and are not remembered except perhaps by their own children. Two anomalous token female cousins tossed in later — they fought in some battle or other; ie, they did men’s work — only underscore the point. Just like having Maria toss off a few “feisty” feminist quips does not distract from the fact that — once again — the most important thing a female character in a movie can do is get married.

I was not enchanted.

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The Book of Life (2014)
US/Can release: Oct 17 2014
UK/Ire release: Oct 24 2014

MPAA: rated PG for mild action, rude humor, some thematic elements and brief scary images
BBFC: rated U (mild fantasy violence, brief scary scenes)

viewed in 2D
viewed at a public multiplex screening

official site | IMDb
more reviews: Movie Review Query Engine | Rotten Tomatoes

If you’re tempted to post a comment that resembles anything on the film review comment bingo card, please reconsider.

  • RogerBW

    Bother, A bait-and-switch trailer, then, because it looked better than that… or maybe I was just too ready to believe that we’d seen enough of woman-as-prize.

  • I was never really interested in this from the get go. The whole mexican culture thing is a big turn off for me. I might have given it a shot, though, if the story was a fresh one, with good characters.

  • The whole mexican culture thing is a big turn off for me.


    I welcome fantasy stories from folkloric traditions we haven’t seen much of (or any) on film before. It’s a shame this one isn’t very good, but the Mexican flavor isn’t the reason why.

  • RogerBW

    It sounds from the review as though the Mexican flavour is mostly a surface coating on an entirely generic-Western quest story.

  • I don’t know enough about Mexican folklore to say one way or the other.

  • I really don’t know what all is represented in the movie, but my main dislike is their music, I live in a neighborhood that is seeing more and more Mexican families moving in, so I hear the music they listen to pretty frequently. IMHO, it’s terrible, with very little variety. I’m sure I could easily be proven wrong in that regard, but I know what I’m hearing. I just can’t stand the whole mariachi style music. Yuck.

    Now, being in the landscape industry, I have worked with Mexicans for over 20 years, and I can certifiably say that they are wonderful people.
    I imagine the movie, being more of a fantasy, wouldn’t bother m, as long as it has a good story, etc. But even the look of the people and places in the trailer don’t appeal. I’ve never liked anything Southwestern style, either. It’s hard to explain why. The weird combobble of colors and textures? I’m not sure, honestly. It’s not just this movie, either. Any movie with this type of setting instantly loses me until I hear rave reviews enough to force me to see it.

  • I Love Eren Jaeger

    While I loved the themes, animation and characters of the main trio, I found the movie pretty meh.

    The trailer and Mexican folklore sold me and I really was looking forward to this movie. I found it pretty decent, and liked it overall, but like you, I was not enchanted.

  • Haha yeah, there’s a lot of Mexicans where I live too and they’re always loudly blasting their music from their front yard so that the whole neighbourhood can hear!

  • Tonio Kruger

    Right… Because, of course, it’s Mexicans — and only Mexicans — who ever do that. :-(

    I’m not going to pretend all Mexicans are perfect but I have lived in enough racially mixed neighborhoods to know that they do not have a monopoly on bad habits like playing their music too loud.

  • Tonio Kruger

    The main premise seems suspiciously like a variation of the opening chapter of the Book of Job — which was apparently written by Mexicans. Who knew? :-)

  • Tonio Kruger

    Maria is barely a character: we know she “likes books”…

    But does she hate this provincial life?

    Or does she prefer to sing about how pretty she feels? :-)

  • LaSargenta

    Not all Mexican misicians play mariachi music, just like not all US musicians are Toby Keith. That’s one hell of a sweeping statement there, boy.

  • She doesn’t get to sing at all.

  • Bluejay

    As others have said, MarkyD, it’s not a good idea to conflate “music I hear often and don’t like” with “music of an entire culture.” That would be like saying you hate all “American music” because you can’t stand the Top 40 songs blasting out of car speakers.

    As with music of all cultures, there’s a lot of diversity in Mexican music if you’re willing to learn about it. Wikipedia is a good place to start (scroll down for Latin alternative, rock, pop, electronic, jazz and classical, if you’re not into the traditional folk genres), and from there you can look up individual artists on YouTube.


    There’s no guarantee that you’ll like *any* of it, but at least you won’t be inclined to sweepingly dismiss it as all the same kind of thing.

  • Carina

    First off, being Mexican America I was completely happy I got to see my culture in an animated movie, and kudos to Reel FX for doing it before Disney.

    The movie portrayed Day of the Dead exquisitely. They totally captured the beauty of the day and did not even compare it to Halloween.

    Maria was completely strong and independent. Even when she was young she said she didnt belong to anyone. She blew off Joaquin when he expected her to be his housewife, and she was obviously in love with Manolo from the beginning even when everyone just tried to push their own expectations of her before she even got to say what she wanted. She also wasn’t immediately seduced by a guy if he proved he was strong or could sing nice. She thought before she acts.

    The movie also shows men’s issues with trying to be “macho” or like their dads. It shows young boys you can be sensitive or tough.

    Also Maria doesn’t wait for the boys. Manolo is the one who literally says in the movie as Maria is on the train that he will wait for her. She’s off in school learning fencing and karate and reading while they are the ones trying to prove themselves to her and give pride to their fathers.

    Then when their is a battle Maria joins. She has her own sword and even encourages the town to join with her.

    He meets his male ancestors, including one who wished he was a opera singer. He also meets his mother, and the Sanchez twins who JOINED IN THE MEXICAN REVOLUTION. They were also super kick ass and huge screen stealers for their little time (at least for me). There was a group of women who fought in the mexican revolution and were huge part of Xicanisma (Mexican Feminism). “they did men’s work” ? YEAH they didn’t have husbands or get married they were sisters side by side who did men’s work (according to western culture) and didn’t let their gender get in the way of what they wanted to take part in.

    The movie mocked every cliche of making a woman as the prize. Just like Princess Jasmine in Aladdin didnt want to be seen as a prize to be won.

    Even if this movie wasn’t as “feminist” as Frozen (since that’s the shine of feminist movies right now) the movie made a huge step for Mexican/Mexican American representation while having a kickass character female side character.

  • I used that word because I wasn’t sure what to call it. I said above I could be proven wrong, but it sure as heck isn’t happening around me. Pretty much all I hear is the “bomp bomp, bomp bomp” style stuff. I never hear any rock, rap, etc.even though I know it’s out there somewhere. Maybe the people I’ve dealt with/heard are just stuck in a rut? I really wasn’t trying to be offensive. I just wasn’t sure how to describe it.

  • See my reply to LaSargenta

  • Tired of Dumb

    Thanks for this review. It’s amazing how many critics were dazzled with the smoke and mirrors, but missed the fact there was no marrow in the bone. I described the film to friends as “beautiful tedium, and devoid of laughs”. Guess we’ll need to wait for another Pixar film to see a script that doesn’t assume children’s comic sensibilities are limited to slapstick gags, and regurgitation of hackneyed lines from other overdone films.

  • Dr. Rocketscience

    Please, please stop digging.

  • LaSargenta

    You brought up a whole lot more than just a 2/4 time signature. “The look of the people”, following your generalization of Mexican music, reads as bigoted, to say the least. Some backhanded stepping away from that steaming pile you dropped by saying you work with them and they’re “wonderful” doesn’t get you a pass.

    Look, just reread what you wrote a few times, substitute some other ethnicities, hell, substitute some other musical genres…and think about it.

    And by the way, that beat you don’t like can be blamed on immigrants to Mexico in the 1800’s from central europe who brought the polka.

  • If Maria is so awesome and the female warriors are so awesome, why isn’t the story about them?

    Women are completely sidelined in this story. Being awesome off over on the side doesn’t make up for that.

  • I think what everyone is trying to say is that you have — to your detriment, never mind offense to others — unreasonably written off an entire culture based on your exposure to a very tiny slice of it.

  • Anthony

    If I may offer an alternate Mexican perspective (native Mexican, in my case):

    Yes, the Day of the Dead paraphernalia was exquisitely detailed, and I absolutely LOVED the “puppets carved from wood” look of everything in the movie (and the little visual references, too, like the guitar-shaped town or that the patterns on said guitar look like a stylized skull from above). The movie’s visual design certainly oozes love for its subject matter, and a sincere interest in making it both accessible and fascinating to unfamiliar audiences.

    However, that’s where all of the movie’s creativity went. As mentioned in the critique above, the plot itself is astonishingly generic. Worse: not only is most of the music a waste of the setting, too –despite the thousands of beautiful Mexican serenades and folk love songs, most of the film’s soundtrack is modern American pop– the story hardly makes use of the Day of the Dead setting: we’re out of the (surprisingly video-gamey) afterlife almost as soon as we enter it. Despite all that potential, the plot is more concerned with the literally mundane and well-trodden happenings of a romantic triangle in which the woman’s only claim to personal ownership is a few token quips (apparently, karate was a thing you could totally learn in a Spanish convent in the 1910s.)

    The less said about Ice Cube’s character, vs. Plácido Domingo’s wasted talent, the better.

    But possibly the most offensive part of the narrative was how the film attempted to pass a marriage to Joaquín as a “the good of the many” option. On the one hand, how heroic is it for a decorated officer, who claims to always do the right thing, to abandon a town to the mercy of bandits unless he gets his way with a woman? On the other, how can said town continue to see him as heroic regardless? How can a town literally conspire to marry her off just for their own protection, knowing perfectly well that their “hero” doesn’t really care for them unless he gets his prize? And no one ever calls them out on that, not even María herself.

    The movie can have as many token “feminist” gestures as it wants, but if its core narrative perpetuates the notion of women being there as either a prize in a contest or as assistants to winning that prize, those quips come off as self-serving instead.

    How much more interesting, novel, and progressive would it have been if, having learned that Manolo got killed for her sake, María had decided to rescue HIM from the underworld, and had had the actual Day of the Dead adventure the original concept promised?

  • And I apologize to everyone for that, as it wasn’t my intention. Apparently, I suck at writing.
    I simply don’t like a certain type of music that happens to come from a certain type of culture. It’s the sound that doesn’t appeal to me. Just like I don’t like certain types of fashion designs, or home decorations, that stem from certain cultures. I’m sure we are all “guilty” of not liking certain types of music and whatnot. It would be boring, not to mention inhuman, if we all liked the same stuff.
    I was not intending to write off the entire culture, as that would be idiotic. I see now how my post would imply that.
    Heck, this has inspired me to look up other types of Mexican music, so that’s a positive thing.
    Hopefully, we can drop this now? I think I’ve embarrassed myself enough.

  • LaSargenta

    If you like U2, may I suggest Maná. If you like Bach, seek out Manuel de Zumaya.

  • Bluejay

    Try browsing NPR’s Alt.Latino blog. Music not just from Mexico but from all over Latin America, in a huge range of genres. Just keep scrolling down and checking things out. Have fun.

  • Tonio Kruger

    So apparently this movie was made by the King of Swamp Castle. :-(

  • The movie can have as many token “feminist” gestures as it wants

    Yeah, it doesn’t really have that many.

  • As a Mexican woman myself, I can assure you that Mexican folklore usually revolves around women being prizes for the macho men; and I’m not proud to say that, don’t get me wrong, please.

    María was such an amazing and feminist character, INSIDE MEXICAN FOLKLORE, omg, I hope I’m explaining myself here. Our society has always been (& still is) so sexist & demeaning to ladies, so our traditional stories are full of that; that’s why The Book of Life was so great, it kept that Mexican essence but made it feminist and María was definitely much more than a prize to be won!!!!

    I think you could say “well, that type of feminism sucks wow” and you’re right, but every white person should understand that this movie is such a great step in Mexican representation, and that it’s so special for us because we are watching a movie we FINALLY can relate to & more specifically talking, Mexican girls can find positive characters similar to us :)

    Also, women who just want to marry and live for their husband shouldn’t be belittled, where’s the feminism in that?

  • Rarely do I ever want to see a movie solely because of how it looks, but the animation looks so absolutely gorgeous from what I’ve seen of it that I’m very interested.

  • Danielm80

    Your comment makes me think about my own culture. I’m an observant Jew. Jewish law, as it’s been interpreted over the years, has frequently denied power to women, and the stories in the Bible often tend to emphasize men more than women. So if I were making a movie based on Jewish stories, I wouldn’t pretend that Miriam led the Jews out of Egypt. But I would also acknowledge that the movie was being made in the 21st century, in a world where there are female rabbis and a large number of feminist Jews. And I would look at the Jewish folk tales in which Miriam plays a prominent role.

    I’m not quite sure how to respond to your last comment:

    Also, women who just want to marry and live for their husband shouldn’t be belittled, where’s the feminism in that?

    I guess I would say that the way we react to individual women, and their personal life choices, depends very much on our relationship with those women. But we can criticize a culture (and I don’t just mean Mexican culture) which says that the best goal a woman can aspire to is to marry and live for her husband. And we can make movies about women who have a very different set of goals.

  • women who just want to marry and live for their husband shouldn’t be belittled, where’s the feminism in that?

    Who’s saying they should be belittled? But Maria clearly wanted more.


    We don’t even see her have the conversation with Manolo that she has with Joaquin (about what he expects a wife will do for him). Just because Manolo loves her — and she loves him — doesn’t mean he isn’t going to treat her like a maid and a sex toy.

    I can assure you that Mexican folklore usually revolves around women being prizes for the macho men

    That’s true of most European folklore too, which I imagine had at least some impact on Mexican folklore.

    María was such an amazing and feminist character, INSIDE MEXICAN FOLKLORE, omg, I hope I’m explaining myself here.

    I get what you’re saying. But *Book of Life* doesn’t exists solely within the context of Mexican folklore. It’s a Hollywood movie. And this is a step backward for representation of women onscreen, after movies like *Brave* and *Frozen.*

  • Carina

    Making white princesses is a step backward. Disney is putting little potential in making brilliant stories and songs for POC.

    She didn’t have the conversation with manolo because he didn’t propose to her, he just confessed his love to her. Maria didn’t feel forced into manolo the way she was expect to be with joaquin

    Book of life made a huge step to make a movie entirely of POC characters. The main ambition was to make a movie the gave Mexican representation.
    Book of Life showed how patriarchy affects men and women. This is just another way to show feminism. I believe making a movie with a male main character was so parents wouldn’t be skeptical to take their sons. This way they can show boys to not feel women are entitled to them. Girls are willing to watch movies with a make or female protagonist.

    Fiona from Shrek, Jasmin for Aladdin were strong females. Also Aladdin also did a great job including POC and Fiona, when in her oger form, didn’t have the slim princess body, she was a big girl.
    These may be supporting characters but they still insert strong messages to girls and boys.

  • Danielm80

    If you’re going to argue that boys are more comfortable seeing a movie with a male protagonist, you could also argue that white people are more comfortable with a Caucasian protagonist. I’d rather see more movies that emphasize diversity and tolerance.* The 2013 box office demonstrated pretty clearly that movies with female leads can be successful.

    I’m very interested in seeing this Disney movie:


    I hope it leads to more films that don’t have white men as the lead characters.

    *As I was typing “tolerance,” it occurred to me that that’s a very odd word. It’s disappointing that, in the 21st century, we’re still struggling to get white men to tolerate people who don’t look exactly like them.

  • Tonio Kruger

    It’s not just white men who have that problem, Danielm80, but I get your point.

    Since I have one Mexican-American cousin named Elsa and a half-Mexican-American sister named Ann — aka “Ana” in Spanish (which, of course, sounds like “Anna” in English) — I am tempted to argue that Elsa and Anna in Frozen are actually Hispanic characters who just happen to live in the North — just like many of my real-life Mexican-American relatives do!

    However, something tells me I’m better off not repeating that argument at this point in time.

  • Tonio Kruger

    One long sequence involves one of the men taking a trip into the Land of the Remembered, which is populated by those who’ve died but are still remembered by someone still alive.

    I usually love a good descent-into-the-underworld saga as much as the next person but it’s worth noting that one of the oldest example of this theme involved a woman visiting the Underworld. (Actually, if you want to get pedantic about it, she was also a goddess, but that’s a subject for another day. And anyway, I suspect anyone reading this who is familiar with the pagan mythology of the Middle East already knows this.)

    Granted, a lot of variations on this theme have involved male characters — for example, Hercules, Odysseus, Orpheus, Aeneas, Dante and of course, Jesus — but there is no real reason this movie could not have had a bit where a woman took a trip into the Land of the Remembered.

  • I’m really surprised, most other people felt this was a very feminist film.

    Maria makes her own decision and is never “won” by the actions and feats of the men – she isn’t even impressed at all by being “saved” by either of them, nor that they can fight or play guitar, all things that she can do. This movie had a positive message that women aren’t prizes you can just earn through actions, and the one she doesn’t marry immediately accepts it and respects it.

    The male ancestors were introduced together because they were all bullfighters, upholding his family tradition of every man fighting bulls, but every single one of them died being incredibly stupid.

    When he met his mother, she told him she hadn’t wanted him to fight bulls at all, the message being that her feelings were just as important as the “male” side of his family. She asked “did you learn nothing from your ancestors,” referring to how they all died foolishly to uphold a tradition.

  • This is NOT a woman-as-prize film. In fact, it goes out of its way not to be. She is never “won” by anybody. The two men try to make her love them with heroics and romance, and it doesn’t work on her – ever. She chooses who she just likes. This movie deconstructs what’s wrong with those stereotypical romance setups.

  • The movie is made by a Mexican husband an wife and based on traditional Spanish romance stories.

    But it also defies and picks apart the sexism of those stories.

  • Did we watch the same movie? Book of Life didn’t even go for “laughs,” let alone bad slapstick. It was just a sweet, cool fantasy adventure.

    Frankly, Pixar films are obnoxiously overrated. Wall-E and Finding Nemo are the only two I didn’t find trite, predictable, and rather unpleasant artistically as well, whereas this movie was beautifully stylized and felt more sincere.

  • Autumn

    This is totally a woman-as-prize film. They have a few lines explaining how that’s not the case, and then they do it anyway. Ugh.

  • Autumn

    Fortunately for you, this movies doesn’t much bother with Mexican music (mores the pity, in my opinion).

  • Autumn

    hear hear!

  • Autumn

    I think the point was that you meet about half a dozen male relatives, and for female ones you meet his mom and a set of twins. Where are the grandmothers?

  • How so? It’s never his deeds or heroics that cause her to marry him.

  • that’s true, that would have made the scene still better.

    I enjoyed the harsh mocking of “macho” culture however.

  • Or where women are actually *remembered* as often as men seem to be.

  • She’s not a character with any sort of journey. She does not change. She exists in the story merely to get married. That’s it.

  • If the movie wanted to mock macho culture, it could have had the Land of the Remembered full of people who didn’t fill their lives with macho shit. The macho guys not being Remembered would have been a powerful refutation of that culture.

  • Tonio Kruger

    Well, I would like to think that I remember my deceased female relatives — for example, my recently deceased aunt (who died earlier this year) and my late sister (who died back in 2011) — as much as I do my deceased male relatives but I evidently am not the type of audience member the filmmakers had in mind when they made this flick. :-(

  • I think it was pretty major that every one of them killed themselves entirely by trying to be “brave.

  • That’s a fair critique, it would have been nice if she had more of a story. She still wasn’t just the mindless object we get in (even modern) princess films or the third wheel “un fun” mentor woman of the Lego Movie and countless others.

    I’d put this at the top of recent children’s films in terms of feminism, near Wall-E and……

    Well, there aren’t many to pick from, I guess, is the real problem.

    I haven’t seen the Dragons series or most recent Dreamworks entries, to be fair, so I don’t know what those are like in terms of gender messages.

  • UnderINK

    This is definitely not the case. It delves deeply into and solely revolves around Mexican (indigenous mixed with Spanish) folklore and tradition.

  • But *you* remember her. The film makes it pretty clear that unless women do “men’s” things — like go to war — no one beyond the people who actually knew them when they were alive will remember them. Men are remembered for generations, however, long after everyone who knew them when they were alive have also died.

  • But they are celebrated for it!

  • This is how movies get away with thinking they’re feminist these days: they throw in female characters who do little but contribute to the male protagonist’s journey, but they’re “cool” or “kickass.” It’s the modern equivalent of placing women on a pedestal: “Look, see? She’s really awesome and has it all together, unlike that fuckup of a guy she’s helping.” Except no one starts out awesome and together — we have to grow into it. We *need* to see stories about women doing that!

  • RogerBW

    Gah, Lego Movie. It had a perfectly good protagonist, and had to hand most of her screen time to the generic schlub.

  • Exactly.

  • ck.

    Where are the grandmothers? Umm, one is alive and kicking, talking about how much of a beast she was in the bullfighting ring… until she keels over from cholesterol.

  • If she’s alive, she cannot be in the afterlife. (And then she is.)

  • Ed

    What you’re describing is a different story. It could be very interesting, but it’s not the story this movie portrays. Should this movie be judged on the basis of the one you wish it was? Ideally every character has an interesting backstory (sometimes secondary characters even seem more interesting than the primary characters) and we could produce movies about them all. But I think we can agree that’s generally a bit crazy (although, done right it could be quite interesting the first time…).

    So, sure, it’s a rather generic theme, hyperbole of a typical man’s journey to attract his mate, but that’s the story they wanted to tell. They could have changed roles to please the feminsts more, but If it was reversed, and she went on a quest in an attempt to win his heart, would it be believable? Possibly it could succeed in a very particular setting, but more likely it would end where she’d realized she didn’t really want him anyway.

  • LaSargenta

    Everyone decides if a story is what they wish it was. That’s why we all like some stories better than others and like the way some stories are told by one storyteller than another. There is no pure abstract platonic ideal of a story that is the basis for critical discussion.

  • Nightstiched

    This is so true, I know a lot of immigrants, not really any mexicains, but Colombians and Guatemalans. This is a big step forward in that culture. I think this movie can help change that sexism. And this is a old mexican folktale, for all of you that are saying that its boring and cliche and a mexican setting with a western plotline, well its not!

  • Kenneth Tucker

    This review sweeps under the rug that this movie had a bigger picture than the “prize.” The picture is none of these 3 main characters fall into the desired family ideal, but the pressure of families make them into something they don’t truly manifest. This is a very lackluster review. I’m surprised people would pay for a half page of very dull content.

  • Anonymous

    Seriously? Your review is obtuse. Only someone who wants to impose an agenda on feminism to something that has no ill will would make such a disrespectful remark about art produced by someone else. As if saying that Shakespeare made ​​a mistake by not having Juliet duel with Tybalt and that it should have been she that climbed to the balcony to woo Romeo. Good luck on asking Coldplay to write a song from the perspective of a woman. Maybe we should all demand for writers and artists to perpetuate a dishonest interpretation of their view and their art. Honestly, who erred in giving you a job Ms?

  • Anonymous

    I might give your opinion a worthy thought but I realized you’re a bigot that makes decisions based speculative information “Marky”.

  • Anonymous

    Firstly, most Mexicans don’t listen to Mariachi music, it’s called “Banda” and you my friend are a closet xenophobe.

  • Oh, please do tell how Maria escapes the fate her father wants for her? What fate *other* than marriage has been held out an an option for her?

  • Kenneth Tucker

    To have a choice between the two (or not at all) and not being forced to marry a guy that will help the town.

  • There is no sense whatsoever that Maria has the option to not marry. None.

  • ChellBerries

    No, this is not the case at all. Actually most of the negative critiquing of the story is actually a bit insulting since it’s highly based on an actual Mexican folktale. It’s older than Hansel and Gretel. My mom would tell me stories like this near Day of the Dead so I could remember my grandmother. It only seems to be a generic quest story because it is that old.

  • ChellBerries

    Mexican, and other cultures have fantastic music coming from them. Open your mind and horizons and appreciate the diverse world you live in.

  • ChellBerries

    Frozen was a terrible representation of women! As was Brave! I don’t think good female representation in movies can be made by passionate feminists because they think too strongly and critically of an ideal environment without male interaction. Good female representation? The Avatar animated series. Both series have strong and awesome women who are who they are because that’s simply who they are. Feminists didn’t write these characters, people who can think logically about human beings wrote them, and that’s why they’re such good characters.

  • A lot of folklore from *all* cultures is highly problematic when it comes to the depiction of women.

  • Frozen was a terrible representation of women!


    passionate feminists… think too strongly and critically of an ideal environment without male interaction

    Oh, that *is* hilarious. Please give us a bunch of examples of feminist stories that feature no male interaction. There must be so many of them for you to have tired of them.

    And how do you know that the writers of *Avatar* aren’t feminists?

  • Bluejay

    Feminists didn’t write these characters

    I invite you to read this interview with Konietzko and DiMartino talking about the female characters in their shows. They are SO TOTALLY feminists. Feminism doesn’t mean “let’s get rid of all the men,” and you need to rethink your assumptions about what feminists want to see in stories.

  • lherman22

    Yes, so let us pile all the ethnic folklore and burn it!! You are obviously more interested in critiquing ideology than film itself, so why don’t you quite film criticism already. *Yawn

  • fuck you simpleton

    shut up you feminist cunt.

  • amanohyo

    *sigh* If only the orifice that graciously and injudiciously granted you passage into this world had taken your sage advice… oh well, the damage is done, clearly.

    Do you have anything vaguely interesting to say about what you have read and/or seen? Anything at all? What is inside that mind of yours? It can’t all be impotent rage and confusion.

    Please, dazzle us poor simpletons with your scintillating wit.

  • Semiartificial

    Oh well, there are plenty of balanced reviews of the film to allow space for one single agenda polemic

  • Danielm80

    MaryAnn has lots of agendas. She wants to see a movie with an original, engaging story. She wants to see a movie with complex, interesting characters. She also wants to see a female character who isn’t a stereotype, which fits into agenda two. Unfortunately, the filmmakers let her down on all of those counts. They also made a film with disturbing and bewildering messages about women. For some of us, that’s too glaring a flaw to ignore–even if we went into the theatre looking for nothing but an entertaining cartoon with a few good songs.

  • I love how “Women are people” is considered an “agenda.”

  • Akuin

    I got the sense that Maria personally wanted to get married, but to someone she -loves- not as a prize. Where’s the support for that? I see a lot of people complain when a character doesn’t end up alone. but how many people actually -want- to end up alone? Why is there such a negative view of marriage these days…

  • Where’s the support for a female character in a film who’s only goal in the film is to get married? There is nothing groundbreaking about that.

    I don’t have a negative view of marriage. I have a negative view of a film industry that pretends that women want nothing more out of life than to get married.

  • Sabri Roa

    I do not think so , I think Maria is an essential part of the story , because it is a story of a love that overcomes death , is Manolo who wait, is she who is strong in his own journey , the film’s director plan to do a movie about it too. I think it is a woman determined to give everything for his people in a society that believes it can do nothing more than ” be pretty and married,” the point being pressured to marry someone she does not love . It is a good character , in my opinion .

  • Dr. Rocketscience

    The movie could eliminate the side plot about Maria trying to protect the town and turn her in to some wilting flower of a woman, and you would have had the exact same story. Hell, the movie could have eliminated Maria completely, and made Manolo and Joaquin rival musicians or bullfighters, and you would have the exact same story.

  • Sabri Roa

    Whatever, still think whatever you want , that’s what I think , it is not to be analyzed thoroughly so simple story , sure Maria has a backdrop , and we’ll see if they get a movie with her ​​story .. .

  • Danielm80

    Everyone has their own way of interpreting a movie, and it’s great that you find Maria inspiring, even if other people disagree. What bothers me is the idea that we shouldn’t analyze the film too much, because it’s only a simple story. Most people don’t think nearly enough about the way women are represented in movies.

  • painter196

    it’s a cartoon…chill out.

  • It’s just a review. Chill out.

  • shiva ferreiro

    MaryAnn ,So now the story has to be about a woman to be a good example. Feminism is about equality not superiority, a story can have strong female role models even if they arent in the lead, that’s what movies should aspire to, representing women as strong people regardles on who’s the main protagonist. Maria is a leader waited for no one and just because she isn’t the main focus doesn’t mean she isn’t important. Maria is the one who is always making the plans when they were kids, she leads the entire town into battle, and even sacrifices herself to protect Manolo. And the Adelitas were fighters regardles of their gender; “men’s work” you say? i think the one who is not feminist enough might just be you. this women were based on real soldiers in the real Mexican revolution: las soldaderas. brave women who fought for freedom, why would fighting for your life and country be men’s work? The abuelita(grandma) was a bullfighter too not only the men. And La Muerte is a HUGE staple in the culture and the protector of the world, takes care of the souls and afterwards we learn she is the one teaching the children about culture and how to live a better life. I don’t think you understood the movie or watched it without bias.

  • real soldiers in the real Mexican revolution: las soldaderas

    Those women sound amazing. I’d love to see a movie about them. This isn’t it.

  • Tonio Kruger

    Now that I’ve actually seen it:

    Despite being the type of person who was once accused by a Hispanic co-worker of waving the Mexican flag, I could not help but find some of the opening comments about Mexico a bit over the top.

    It didn’t help that we’re never told where that opening scene takes place or whether those children the museum guide talks to are supposed to be American or Mexican. And some of the story elements (the affection the kids had for Lady Death or the apelike image of one of the Mexican hero’s ancestors) seemed deliberately calculated to raise an eyebrow or two.

    That said, I liked it more than I expected to and my inner Percy Jackson fan especially liked the fact that the old Mexican folklore tale that allegedly inspired this movie was in fact an old Greek myth. (What? You don’t think Hispanics can be familiar with Greek mythology? Please think again.)

    Of course, the Ray Bradbury reference at the end was also a nice touch.

    If nothing else, it will be interesting to see how this movie compares to Coco. Especially since most of the TV ads for that movie make it seem like The Book of Life II.

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