The first time I set foot in Mexico I hated it. The humid air instantly left you covered in a slimy sheen that made you feel like a bukkake burrito plus there were Mexicans everywhere. And everywhere looked dirty, I assumed, because all that air and all those Mexicans were touching every goddamn thing. Then, somewhere between the first few hours spent at a local comic convention and a few short moments swimming in a sacred cenote, my eyes were opened. I had an el-piphany right there somewhere in the jungles of the Yucatan peninsula. I knew most Hispanic stereotypes were correct because I grew up in Florida and had been to Wal-Mart. I’d been to Miami, and Kissimmee, and Disney. I saw the uneducated, entitled and ill-mannered. In the comforting arms of my now adopted Mexican Motherland I discovered wisdom, hard work and kindness.

I died there in Cancun and rose again.

A vast, vibrant world lay before me, full of color, bathed in sound, rich in old traditions with eyes looking always for new ones. Everywhere I went, from the teeming tourist districts to forgotten hovels behind roadside tchotchke stands, whether one was obscenely rich or desperately poor, few were without smiles. Despite terrible violence and depressed economies, Life smiles down on Mexico in a uniquely heartwarming way.

I could not help but smile back.

And when you see The Book of Life I’m going to bet you’ll smile too. You’ll also cry unless you’re some kind of monster that can’t cry. It’s a simple tale and not as polished as some children’s movies but “simple”, by definition, doesn’t need polish. Plus it looks like this:

 

 

It’s hard to worry about any rough edges when your eyeballs are having an orgy. To summarize with as much class as possible: this movie will fuck your eyes with color. Colors you’ve never seen before will fuck you and you will like it and welcome whatever fucking is to come from these new colors or any old fucking favorites like “Burnt Orange” or “Forest Goddamn Green”. Both actual Crayola choices by the way though one was slightly embellished.

Every last surface in The Book of Life is embellished, dripping with more crap than an Ebola victim. And I’m talking the bad kind of Ebola. More time went into crafting our hero’s jacket than George Lucas ever spent squirting out prequel screenplays. The mustaches alone in this movie are more fleshed out than Jar Jar Binks but even with the superabundance of saturated sights I never felt smothered by what I was seeing. It felt natural when it could have easily become pretentious. The producers turned matter-of-fact into magical with either the reckless abandon of a child who is wise beyond his years or a well traveled adult who never let go of ten years old.  Here’s a tree:

 

 

Here’s a tree from The Book of Life!

 

 

A door.

 

 

A fucking awesome door.

 

 

Ron Perlman (is amazing):

 

 

I said Ron Perlman is amazing!

 

 

Who am I kidding? I sat next to the guy for a few minutes once and Ron Perlman is no less than fifteen bad-asses larger than life at any given moment, but you get my point.

If I had to say anything negative about this movie it’s that the dialogue can wax kiddie cliché at times. I mean rudimentary and expected, underdeveloped even, and not juvenile. Juvenile is great. Angie and I were LOLing two minutes in at poop jokes getting weird looks from four year olds nearby. Juvenile is great, however, writing that is here and there average at best is noticeable when the rest of a film absolutely shines. Yet even with those few shortcomings it manages to get its message across beautifully and without beating you over the head with a vagina shaped club like Frozen. Men, women, demigods, ghosts, a couple bulls and one fine pig are all on equal footing here. All are challenged and all are to be celebrated as they struggle and succeed to write their own pages full of adventures.

5 rounds, proud and prismatic, in the cylinder this week for The Book of Life. It might not be as finely crafted as some but it’s as magnificent as any you’ll ever behold. Not just for its looks but for its soul as well. Just like old Mexico, she’s pretty on the outside but look deeper and you’ll realize just how gorgeous she truly is. So no matter where you travel or what you watch amigos, open those eyes and see a fair piece.

Open your heart, and see it all.