It’s been a little while since I’ve done a movie review and this is a movie that definitely deserves one! I do have to admit that I wasn’t too thrilled with the previews of this movie. Something about the way the animation showed in the commercials did not impress me.
My kids however were very excited about the bright colors and cheerful music. So I purchased the movie one night before leaving work. I put it on for the kids the next morning and they were loving it! After the first ten minutes of listening from the kitchen, I was drawn into the living room by the music and the voices.
Don’t worry, after finishing the movie with my kids, we watched it later that evening when Tony got home!
The movie is set in San Angel, Mexico, which is the center of the universe. The story opens with a field trip of delinquent kids arriving at a museum. A beautiful young guide offers to take them on a special tour. She introduces the leaders of the dead, La Muerta, who rules the land of the remembered, Xibalba, who rules the land of the forgotten and the Candlemaker, who keeps everything in balance.
She then introduces the three main characters of the main storyline, Manolo, Joachim and Maria. They are three children, growing up in San Angel and somehow become part of a bet between La Muerta and Xibalba. These three frequently get into mischief and Maria’s father decides to send her to a boarding school in Spain to improve her behavior. Joachim begins training to follow his deceased father’s footsteps as a soldier. Manolo is pushed into training as a matador, which is what the men in his family are famous for, when all he wants to do is sing his music.
Years pass, Maria has finally returned to San Angel. Joachim is a hero, visiting his hometown for Maria’s return. Manolo is now ready for his first bull fight. Both men love Maria and she seems to favor Manolo. Xibalba however, doesn’t want to lose the bet, especially since he has already stacked the deck in his favor.
Xibalba’s interference leads to the supposed death of Maria, which leads Manolo to sacrifice his life.
Don’t worry, this is not Romeo and Juliet!
Once Manolo reaches the land of the remembered, he discovers that he was tricked into his decision so that Xibalba could win the bet and gain the rule over the land of the remembered. He is forced to travel to the land of the forgotten, facing danger and judgement, to find La Muerta and beg for her help.
After facing his greatest fear, being himself despite familial pressure, he is able to return to San Angel in time for the battle with banditos who threaten his town.
I won’t give away the ending, but this is a beautiful story and the music is amazing. It brings modern music, with a mariachi feel, to this story and you can’t help but sing along!
Under it all are the lessons:
Never stop playing from the heart.
Never stop fighting for what is right.
Write you’re own story.
I hope you enjoy the movie as much as my family and I did!