THE BOOK OF LIFE is produced by Guillermo del Toro, directed by Jorge Gutierrez, and features an outstanding voice cast to tell its story of true love (along with a generous helping of Mexican culture). The basic plot is about two boys, Joaquin (Diego Luna) and Manolo (Channing Tatum), who vie for the affections of a girl, Maria (Zoe Saldana). As people they're fairly opposite, with Manolo being a musician at heart (his family's profession is bullfighter) and Joaquin being a soldier who does great deeds of derring-do. Unbeknownst to them, however, Lady Muerte and Xibalba (Ron Perlman) have entered into a wager about which of them can win the heart of Maria and it sets Manolo on a journey that will take him to both realms of the dead. First, I should say that the character design, animation and overall look of the film was extremely creative and visually unique, befitting a Guillermo del Toro production. The colors popped and everything in the world of the film was brought to vibrant life. The voice cast was equally impressive, although there were a couple of people who took me out of it for a little bit before getting sucked back into the story. The biggest offender was probably Ice Cube, who voices the Candlemaker, although they did stick in a couple of good jokes and references for him. I also got taken a little bit out of the story by realizing that Danny Trejo and Cheech Marin also voiced characters in the film, but again, they still did great work here. Another high point was the music. The score was pretty good, but what really stood out was the use of modern pop songs in what is (mostly) a period piece set at an indeterminate time in the past. Of course, I didn't mind that one bit at all. I also thought that the first half to two-thirds of the story were excellent. It succeeded telling an emotionally moving story with plenty of interesting characters, but at a certain point it resorted to the standard climax and resolution that wrapped up everything with a nice little bow. And despite much of the humor working, at times I felt it was a little too silly for its own good. Still, at the end I was completely won over. Had I seen this last year, I'm fairly certain it would have made my top ten. As it stands, this was an incredibly charming and visually rich film that should appeal to kids and adults alike, and also serves as a valuable cultural lesson.