The Book Of Life (2014) Review

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The Book Of Life (2014)

Directed by Jorge Gutierrez

Produced by Aaron Berger, Brad Booker, Guillermo del Toro, Carina Schulze

Starring:
Diego Luna
Zoe Saldana
Channing Tatum
Ron Perlman
Christina Applegate
Ice Cube
Kate del Castillo

Running time: 95 minutes

Plot Synopsis: (via IMDB)
Manolo, a young man who is torn between fulfilling the expectations of his family and following his heart, embarks on an adventure that spans three fantastic worlds where he must face his greatest fears.

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My Opinion:

Hmm. I liked this movie and did think it was lovely to look at (but was probably a bit “too much” visually – they could have toned it down). As an adult, it’s not always fun sitting through kids movies but I enjoyed the story well enough in this and didn’t just want to sleep through the whole thing like I pretty much did during the horrible Boxtrolls movie. The problem with this one, though, is that I think adults may almost enjoy it a bit more than really young kids as I think the story is too confusing for those under maybe 8 or so. There’s no reason that younger kids can’t go to it – I just think they won’t like this one as much as it’s very fast paced, the story is too complex, and it’s just very “busy” – you’re constantly bombarded with the visuals, the story, the songs… I found it hard to keep up myself so I doubt a five-year-old really could.

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As I said, I did quite like the story. It’s actually told as a story that’s being told to a group of kids at a museum and I wasn’t sure that would really work at first but it wasn’t too bad – it just made it a bit harder to get into the characters who are in the “story within a story”. I put the very simple plot synopsis at the top but here it is from Wikipedia in much more detail to show you exactly what the central story is about (although, as I said, it’s more complex than this):

The spirits La Muerte, ruler of the Land of the Remembered and Xibalba, ruler of the Land of the Forgotten, appear at the San Angel’s Day of the Dead festival where they set up a wager after seeing two boys, Manolo and Joaquín, competing over a free-spirited girl named María. La Muerte bets that Manolo will marry María, while Xibalba bets on Joaquín. If La Muerte wins, Xibalba can no longer interfere in mortal affairs, but if Xibalba wins, he and La Muerte would switch lands.

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The girl in this is pretty good – she’s feisty and when the boys are fighting over her says something like “I belong to no one!” so I was all for that as too many female characters in kids movies are horrible role models to young girls. Her pet pig was pretty adorable and there weren’t any annoying or unlikable characters.

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The jokes in this are actually somewhat funny, even for the adults (well, one joke was SO dirty that the hubby & I looked at each other in disbelief! Don’t worry, though – your kids would NOT pick up on it. Just don’t laugh at it if you can help yourself. I couldn’t help myself…). There’s also a lot of music in this film which was sometimes fun as they did some popular stuff. Although I wasn’t sure if I should think it’s cool or if I should be pissed off at them doing Radiohead’s Creep… But, hey – it’s the first time I’ve heard Biz Markie’s Just A Friend since 1989!

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Summary:

The Book Of Life is a decent enough film that adults probably won’t mind sitting through as well. I do think it’s too complex for the very young but, aside from one dirty joke they won’t get anyway, I wouldn’t say there’s really anything inappropriate for kids (other than maybe the issue of “death” being discussed but you get that in most Disney movies anyway). Obviously, it’s not Pixar or Disney so it’s still just a kids film to me & I never rate those as highly as I’d rather watch a grown-up movie. I liked this okay, though, and think most kids of at least 7 or 8 probably will too.

My Rating: 6/10

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Here’s some Radiohead for Cara. 😉

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21 Jump Street & 22 Jump Street Double Review

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I went to see 22 Jump Street a couple of weeks ago (I only watched three movies that day, not four like I did one day last month. No, that’s NOT a regular thing that I do!). 😉 Anyway – they were Oculus, The Fault In Our Stars (review HERE) & 22 Jump Street. I’m not reviewing much lately but I’ll try to do Oculus at some point (Spoiler: I thought it was pretty shit). Since I just watched 21 Jump Street for the first time a few months ago, I figured I might as well review the two together…

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21 Jump Street (2012)

Directed by Phil Lord & Christopher Miller

Starring:
Jonah Hill
Channing Tatum
Dave Franco
Brie Larson
Rob Riggle
DeRay Davis
Ice Cube
Nick Offerman

My Opinion:

Okay! So. I finally watched this movie a few months ago. I’d avoided it because… How DARE they mess with 21 Jump Street! That’s one of my all-time favorite TV shows (number 11)! And they made it into a silly COMEDY? WTF?! Well, there’s no point discussing the TV show – the movie shares its name & the fact that young looking police officers go undercover in high schools but that’s IT – there are no other similarities so I’ll just discuss the movie and try to pretend it has a different title.

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21 Jump Street was okay. It didn’t exactly blow me away but it was better than I was expecting and I even found a few bits fairly funny. I’ve started to warm a little to Jonah Hill since he was so fantastic in The Wolf Of Wall Street. I’ve never understood the Channing Tatum thing – the first thing I actually saw him in was Side Effects and he seemed out of place. Then I saw the dreadful Magic Mike… Ugh. But he’s likeable here and I think they finally found a role that suits him. Ice Cube was pretty hilarious – I think he was probably the funniest thing about this. The best thing about this, however, was Brie Larson. I’ve not seen her in anything else other than Don Jon but now I really want to see Short Term 12 based on her performance in this.

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21 Jump Street starts out pretty promising but about halfway through gets a little TOO silly and over the top for my liking. I like comedy that stays a bit more simple (as in, not juvenile “in your face” humor). By the end I was a bit bored and fell asleep a few times and kept having to go back to try to finish the last 15 minutes. Hell – I’m not sure if I ever did! By the time they got to the cameos (minor spoiler maybe but I think everyone knows about the cameos by now) I was like “No”. The cameos were pretty stupid and not handled very well. The movie definitely had some potential at first and I had some hope that I was going to end up liking it okay. And I sort of did. Unfortunately, it does fall apart at the end.

My Rating: 6/10

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22 Jump Street (2014)

Directed by Phil Lord & Christopher Miller

Starring:
Jonah Hill
Channing Tatum
Peter Stormare
Ice Cube
Amber Stevens
Wyatt Russell
Jillian Bell
Jimmy Tatro
Nick Offerman

My Opinion:

Well, this is a big step up from 21 Jump Street. Overall, this is a much funnier film and feels a lot more “together” than the first film did. It still goes a little over the top at the end but doesn’t fall apart like I thought 21 Jump Street did. And the best thing about this movie is that it makes fun of itself. A LOT. Because it’s the exact same story again but set in college instead of high school and the movie knows this and constantly jokes about it and the whole “sequelitis” problem in Hollywood. I thought that was all really funny and the end credits scenes (as the credits rolled) were BRILLIANT! It was actually the best bit of the entire movie and worth watching for that alone. So do NOT leave the second the credits roll on this one, people! (Oh, there’s also a final scene at the very end after the credits as well – that one is pretty stupid & not worth staying for, in my opinion).

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This time around, I thought Channing Tatum was much better and a lot funnier. I MAYBE finally like him more after seeing this one. Maybe… Yeah – he’s pretty good in this one and possibly even outshines Jonah Hill this time. They also feel more like a team and have better chemistry. And Ice Cube luckily has even more screen time in this one and he’s again hilarious – I really liked the scenes with him. The “female love interest” this time around doesn’t have the charisma of Brie Larson but I’d have to say that’s the only thing they didn’t improve on from the first film.

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Well, I suppose I should wrap this up as my opinion is pretty obvious anyway. I enjoyed 22 Jump Street quite a bit more than 21 Jump Street. I always love when a movie isn’t afraid to make fun of itself. Overall, though, these films aren’t really my type of thing although I can appreciate why some people like them. If they DO make a 3rd one, I’m hoping they can improve on the whole thing once again & stick to more of the good jokes instead of as many stupid, silly gags (but Hill & Tatum can get high once again. I’ll admit that I find it freaking hilarious when people get high in movies and the fact that I love the Harold & Kumar films probably destroys my argument that I don’t like “dumb” humor). 😉 I feel there should be a bigger gap in the two ratings but I don’t think 21 deserves lower than a 6 while I can’t really give 22 a 7 as I can’t say it’s exactly going to be a favorite film or that I’ll ever watch it again. But I appreciate that they seemed to put much more effort into this one. Plus the scenes during the credits get 8/10!

My Rating: 6.5/10

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