The Boxtrolls is a kid’s movie which shows how foolish, arrogant and gullible adults are. Even when all the evidence needed is right before their eyes.
Review (with Spoilers)
Though ParaNorman, Laika’s last production, didn’t really hit it out of the park with me, being that I didn’t know this was their newest film, I didn’t walk in with any preconceived notions. I just remember seeing the trailer somewhere, advertisements pop up and thought this would be a cute movie to see. One which unfortunately would have a theater filled with kids, but if you want to see films like these that is something you have to deal with. I digress, though, for the real question is whether this film has more broad appeal than ParaNorman, or if it is just another company’s futile attempt to stand out of the shadow of Disney’s domination.
Characters & Story
Eggs (Isaac Hempstead-Wright) has been raised by a box troll named Fish since he was a baby. The two bond over music, scavenging, and also eating various forms of bugs together. But sometime around Eggs’ 10th year of life, he finds that his massive family is starting to disappear. The reason? One man named Archibald Snatcher (Ben Kingsley). Someone born low on the totem pole of a fictional town and who wants to rise up to prominence by any means necessary.
So, using the fact the people of this town are completely ignorant about the box trolls being harmless, never mind cowards, he begins using propaganda in order to present them as a threat that only he, and his henchmen Mr. Trout (Nick Frost), Mr. Pickles (Richard Ayoade), and Mr. Gristle (Tracy Morgan) can stop. Though, for his assistance, he must be given by Lord Portley-Rind (Jared Harris) a White Hat and a seat at their cheese tasting table. Both of which are the highest honest in the land.
However, standing in his way are Eggs and Lord Portley-Rind’s daughter Winnie (Elle Fanning), a girl completely obsessed with the tale of the evil, baby stealing, and eating, box trolls. Though with these two children only ten, at the very least, and no adult really taking note of them, how in the world will they save any box trolls?
I love films like these and Ernest & Celestine which go beyond being cute, seemingly kid-friendly, entertainment and actually presents deeper themes. Such as Archibald doing whatever it takes to become respected and on the level of the wealthy class. For in his story, you are presented with a villain who pretty much is solely evil because, from what it seems, the world of the film lacks social mobility. So what are the poor to do but squash the weaker and smaller and try to rise up on their shoulders?
Also, it presents the classic notion of never judging a book by its cover, as well as getting to know about something, or someone, yourself before making any judgments. For, like in Ernest & Celestine, it seems largely the adults of the town are completely ignorant on the topic of box trolls, and solely base their knowledge on them on what they were spoon fed. And damn if they weren’t wrong about those of which they feared and were prejudice against. Almost seeming like a racist who has never met this type of person they have been taught to hate, and perhaps fear, yet never really seeing or meeting one with their own eyes. Never mind giving them a chance to prove the stories against them are true.
When it comes to the film’s issues, perhaps the main one a parent may not like is the fact it makes it seem kids will be ignored if they go to an adult for help, and be ignored if they try to tell on another adult, no matter how much evidence they present. Though, as someone without children, my main issue was the fact Lord Portley-Rind spent an exuberant amount of money on cheese and did so over taking care of local government needs like the budget for the children’s school or even building a hospital. Making it seem Laika wanted to possibly get a little political, but then decided against it so that they wouldn’t have a polarizing issue which could affect the film.
Overall: Worth Seeing
From beautiful animation, a cute story which may get you teary eyed, and a villain which is a bit more complex than your usual kid’s movie baddie, you get quite a film. One which, I would argue, will likely get nominated for multiple accolades and, depending on the competition, at this point, I think should win. Hence the “Worth Seeing” label.