Guillermo Del Toro has dipped his prodigious toe into the waters of animation before—he executive produced both Puss In Boots and Kung Fu Panda 2. But The Book Of Life, coming this Halloween from producer Del Toro and director Jorge R. Gutierrez, appears to be a unique opportunity for Del Toro to bring his intricate visual sensibility to an animated film. The trailer for The Book Of Life premiered on The Hollywood Reporter this morning, revealing an artistic style that lies somewhere between The Nightmare Before Christmas-era Tim Burton and traditional Mexican Dia De Los Muertos imagery.
The story revolves around an unlucky young musician, Manolo (Diego Luna), who must cross between the realms of the living and the dead to reunite with his true love Maria (Zoe Saldana) and save her from marrying arrogant matador Joaquin (Channing Tatum). However, while the imagery is striking and imaginative, the trailer for The Book Of Life also suffers from a couple of Hollywood’s most annoying animation cliches—namely celebrity stunt casting (Channing Tatum is a hunk, we get it already) and a cheesy, on-the-nose pop soundtrack (in this case, Thirty Seconds to Mars’ “Do Or Die”). But with any luck that’s just marketing gloss designed to get Mr. and Mrs. Joe Suburbia to bring their kids to the theater, and The Book Of Life will end up being as inspired as it looks.