THE BOOK OF LIFE AAAAAAUUUUGHHH! DEAD PEOPLE!

RACISTS, if they pay attention, will hate the animated film The Book of Life, which somehow stuffs a love triangle and a story about self-identity into a cosmology shaped heavily by the mythology of Mexico's Day of the Dead.

Early on, as we're introduced to the magical city of San Angel, we're treated to a bit of proud and declarative orienteering that's very different from what we usually hear in El Norte—namely that San Angel sits at the center of Mexico, which is an even bigger deal when you consider that Mexico already sits at "the center of the universe" itself.

That kind of unabashed statement means there's no mistaking what you're about to watch: a fairy tale completely disinterested in the usual tropes of a genre perfected by the Disney machine—stories about troubled Northern European ladies and the dashing Northern European lords who save them.

Death, unsurprisingly, looms over the film's three main characters: Manolo the reluctant bullfighter (voiced by Diego Luna), Joaquin the cocky soldier (Channing Tatum), and Maria the scholarly, willful, kung fu-trained anti-princess (Zoe Saldana). But that weight's also been balanced by a surprising amount of lightness and whimsy—thanks to some of the most stunning animation and set design you'll ever see. (As if a kids' movie produced by Guillermo del Toro wouldn't look beautiful.)

Also, Ice Cube plays god. There's that, too.