Do you think Boxtrolls know the paradox between good and evil?
That’s the question that sets up the dark yet delightful film about a family of Boxtrolls — literally trolls wearing boxes — who are misjudged as monsters and become the epitome of unconditional love.
What’s unquestionable about the new 3-D stop-motion film from Laika Entertainment, the creators of Oscar-nominated Coraline and ParaNorman, is the incredible attention to detail that went into the eye-popping visuals and the fantastical world of Cheesebridge, where the White Hats rule with all the wealth and power and no sense of community.
The film, which is based on the children’s novel Here Be Monsters! by Alan Snow, takes a bit of a departure from the characters and plot of the book. However, the villain remains the same. Archibald Snatcher (voiced by a devilishly good Ben Kingsley), the leader of the Red Hats, longs to sit among the elite, white-hat class in the Tasting Room to sip tea and eat cheese. Snatcher proposes to eliminate the monstrous Boxtrolls in exchange for a white hat.
Cheesebridge has been plagued by Boxtrolls ever since the creatures purportedly snatched a baby from a father who was eaten by the trolls while trying to save his infant son. In truth, the Boxtrolls are a busy community of builders that take ordinary human junk and create extraordinary instruments of fun.
In the cavernous dwelling underneath the streets of Cheesebridge, the Boxtrolls have adopted an orphaned boy, “Eggs” (Isaac Hempstead Wright), named after the box he wears. Eggs has been raised by the kind and gentle Fish (Dee Bradley Baker), who teaches him about music and life in a box.
During one of their daring missions to recover junk above ground in the human world, Eggs meets Winnie (Elle Fanning), the feisty daughter of the head of the White Hats. Together, the children try to expose Snatcher as the real evildoer and save the Boxtrolls from extermination.
While the initial introduction of the Boxtrolls as monsters and the dark storytelling may scare some young children, parents should know that the overlying message of true goodness overshadows the darkness. There are also some instances of mild rude humor, as when Winnie sees Eggs scratching himself: “Don’t scratch those! That’s why they’re called privates!”
Stay through the credits to see the magic behind the time-consuming art form of stop-motion animation and a rendition of Little Boxes, most recently made popular by the TV show Weeds.
At first it’s difficult to understand the British accents and minion-like language of the Boxtrolls, but by the end of the film, the message becomes crystal-clear: Family can take all forms, and the problem of good versus evil can be solved outside of the box.