Guillermo del Toro thinks his latest movie, the animated 3-D fantasy “The Book of Life,” is so epic that you’ll want to see it over and over again. Vaya, hit three showings in a day if you have the time.
“Go at 4, 6, and 8 (p.m.),” laughs del Toro, who produced the film, out Friday. “Bring all the kids!”
In all seriousness, the native Mexican who directed such movies as, “Hellboy,” “Pacific Rim” and “Pan’s Labyrinth” believes that viewers will appreciate the story as well as the incredible imagery and lessons more so the second or even third time around.
Del Toro speaks from experience. He actually saw “The Book of Life” for the first time (on a big screen, that is) at Miami’s Regal South Beach Monday night. The premiere brought out Gloria and Emilio Estefan as well as Mexican TV personality Monica Noguera, TV’s “Caso Cerrado” star Ana Maria Polo and artist Alex Mijares, whom producers tapped to create a piece of art tied to the flick.
Del Toro helped introduce the film, along with first time director Jorge Gutierrez and one of the stars, Kate del Castillo.
Even though del Toro was an integral part of making this thing, he was nonetheless blown away.
“I couldn’t imagine what the end product would be, the power of it,” said Del Toro of the movie, which is part love story, part folk tale, part LSD trip for your eyes. “The truth is I’m 50 years old, and I’ve never seen anything like it.”
Gutierrez, who also consulted on the animation aspect, admitted he became emotional watching his masterpiece, which begins in present day, on El Dia de Los Muertos (The Day of the Dead), the Mexican holiday remembering those who have passed. We see a bunch of rotten kids forced to go to a museum for detention; a mysterious tour guide (the voice of Christina Applegate) introduces them to “The Book of Life.”
That’s when the journey begins, with puppet-like, often grossly misshapen characters interacting in three worlds. There’s the land of the living (1920s Mexico, where the love story unfolds), the Land of the Remembered (just like Heaven, only with more partying and psychedelic colors) and the Land of the Forgotten (hint: not the ideal destination).
Despite the fact that the leading players resemble warped dolls (even Channing Tatum’s macho Joaquin), the movie can get your tear ducts going.
“I was crying like a baby,” Gutierrez admitted at the Epic Hotel Tuesday, recovered and laughing. “There was so much watershooting out of my eyes. I’m still dehydrated.”
“I was worried for him,” ribbed del Toro.
Del Castillo, who voices La Muerte, queen of The Land of the Remembered, concurs.
“It’s overwhelming, all this imagery, the setting, things you have never seen before,” said the actress. “I don’t even know if ‘awesome’ is the right word. My vocabulary in English is too short. You can’t just focus on one thing because you are trying to catch everything, all the details.”
Gutierrez, who hails from Mexico City, describes “The Book of Life” as a feast meant to behold and consumed: “I remember coming home from college (California Institute of the Arts) and my mom would cook for me dish after dish after dish. Each one was more magical than the last. Just when I thought I couldn’t eat anymore, there was even more eye candy. By the end of it you’ll be super satisfied.”
You want metaphors?
Del Toro, who often jokes about his portliness, likens “TBOL” to “the most amazing flan edifice with churros for columns, cascading in whipped cream that you want to swim in with no trunks!”
And don’t worry about scaring the kids. Del Castillo thinks the movie’s themes of the afterlife are not only educational but universal.
“We Mexicans, we laugh about death,” she says. “We will all get there eventually, but let’s look at it in a beautiful and positive way.”
Madeleine Marr is a writer for the Miami Herald, and this article was distributed by MCT Information Services.