Australian Council on Children and the Media

Book of Life, The

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Not recommended under 6; parental guidance recommended 6-10 due to themes, violence and scary scenes

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This topic contains:

  • overall comments and recommendations
  • details of classification and consumer advice lines for Book of Life, The
  • a review of Book of Life, The completed by the Australian Council on Children and the Media (ACCM) on 7 April 2015.

Overall comments and recommendations

Children under 6 Not recommended due to violence and scary scenes
Children aged 6 to 10 Parental guidance recommended due to themes, violence and scary scenes.
Children aged 10 and over OK for this age group

About the movie

This section contains details about the movie, including its classification by the Australian Government Classification Board and the associated consumer advice lines.

Name of movie: Book of Life, The
Classification: PG
Consumer advice lines: Mild themes and animated violence
Length 95 minutes

ACCM review

This review of the movie contains the following information:

A synopsis of the story

Three children live in the Mexican town of San Angel. Manolo (voiced by Diego Luna), Maria (Zoe Saldana) and Joaquin (Channing Tatum) are best friends and spend their days play fighting with each other. But pressure from their families forces the three children onto different paths. Maria is sent to Europe, Joaquin joins the army and Manolo becomes a bull fighter like his father.

Many years later, when the children have grown up, Maria returns to town. Both Manolo and Joaquin love Maria and want to marry her. They both try to win her hand in marriage and the spirits Xibalba and La Muerte decide to bet on who will win. But just as Maria is about to make her choice the evil Xibalba interferes. Manolo is sent to the Land of the Remembered and he must confront his fears and learn to be himself if he ever wants to see Maria again. 

Themesinfo

Children and adolescents may react adversely at different ages to themes of crime, suicide, drug and alcohol dependence, death, serious illness, family breakdown, death or separation from a parent, animal distress or cruelty to animals, children as victims, natural disasters and racism. Occasionally reviews may also signal themes that some parents may simply wish to know about.

Day of the Dead: death of a parent; death of a loved one; family breakdown; the supernatural; bull fighting

Use of violenceinfo

Research shows that children are at risk of learning that violence is an acceptable means of conflict resolution when violence is glamourised, performed by an attractive hero, successful, has few real life consequences, is set in a comic context and / or is mostly perpetrated by male characters with female victims, or by one race against another.

Repeated exposure to violent content can reinforce the message that violence is an acceptable means of conflict resolution. Repeated exposure also increases the risks that children will become desensitised to the use of violence in real life or develop an exaggerated view about the prevalence and likelihood of violence in their own world.

There is some violence in this movie including:

  • The children are frequently shown play fighting with wooden swords
  • There is a lot of cartoon violence in this film. Bandits attack the town and soldiers fight them off with swords and bombs. Joaquin becomes a soldier and fights many people with his sword. This violence is often shown as heroic and manly.
  • Manolo and his family are bull fighters. Manolo’s father tries to get Manolo to kill the bull with his sword but Manolo doesn’t want to. His father says that if he doesn’t kill the bull he will dishonour the family.
  • Xibalba’s snake bites Manolo and kills him
  • Manolo and Joaquin have a sword fight over Maria
  • Some of the characters slap each other.
  • The movie ends with a big battle with the town’s people against a bandit army. This ends with a big bomb explosion.

Material that may scare or disturb children

Under fiveinfo

Children under five are most likely to be frightened by scary visual images, such as monsters, physical transformations.

In addition to the above-mentioned violent scenes, there are some scenes in this movie that could scare or disturb children under the age of five, including the following:

  • Because the movie is about the Day of the Dead and it also includes two underworlds: the Land of the Remembered and the Land of the Forgotten, death is a common theme in the movie. Some of the elements that may scare children are ghosts, skeletons, graveyards and beheaded figures.
  • Xibalba and La Muerte are scary looking spirits that may frighten young children. Xibalba is an evil spirit who sends his snake to do his bidding. La Muerte is a nicer spirit but she looks like a skeleton.
  • There are many deaths in this film. Manolo’s mother and Joaquin’s father have both died. Also, Maria is thought to be dead and Manolo dies but is eventually returned to the land of the living.
  • When Maria is sent away all the children cry and are very upset. This may be upsetting for young children.
  • When Manolo dies and travels to the Land of the Remembered he turns into a skeleton man. He also has to fight a huge demonic bull. These scenes may be scary for children.

Aged five to eightinfo

Children aged five to eight will also be frightened by scary visual images and will also be disturbed by depictions of the death of a parent, a child abandoned or separated from parents, children or animals being hurt or threatened and / or natural disasters.

Children in this age group may also be scared or disturbed by the above mentioned scenes

Aged eight to thirteeninfo

Children aged eight to thirteen are most likely to be frightened by realistic threats and dangers, violence or threat of violence and / or stories in which children are hurt or threatened.

Some children may be scared or disturbed by some of the above mentioned scenes but there is mostly nothing of concern

Over thirteeninfo

Children over the age of thirteen are most likely to be frightened by realistic physical harm or threats, molestation or sexual assault and / or threats from aliens or the occult.

Nothing of concern

Product placement

None of concern

Sexual references

There are some sexual references in this movie, including:

  • Both Manolo and Joaquin flirt with Maria
  • Manolo’s band sing “Do you think I’m sexy”

Nudity and sexual activity

There is some sexual activity in this movie, including:

  • Manolo and Maria kiss

Use of substances

There is some use of substances in this movie, including:

  • Some drinking is shown at parties and at dinner but it is not clear if they are drinking alcohol.
  • One of the band members seems drunk and says “we have been to four bars”.

Coarse language

There is some coarse language that young children may imitate, including:

  • “kick his butt”
  • “lazy bum”
  • “son of a leper’s donkey”

In a nutshell

The Book of Life is an enjoyable animated film about the Mexican holiday Day of the Dead. It is ideal for children aged 10 and over and is a great chance for children to learn more about the beliefs and celebrations of another culture. Maria is also an excellent role model for young girls as she is brave, smart and stands up for herself.

Because of the themes, the scary elements and the violence in this film, it is not recommended for children under 6 and parental guidance is recommended for the 6 to 10 age group.

The main messages from this movie are

  • be yourself
  • follow your heart

Values in this movie that parents may wish to reinforce with their children include:

  • being brave
  • kindness
  • forgiveness

 This movie could also give parents the opportunity to discuss with their children the importance of not solving conflicts with violence.

 

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