Laika animation company adds to its macabre stop-motion animated film repertoire with a film about orphans and box-icide.
The boxtrolls are little monsters that dwell in the sewers beneath the posh Victorian city of Cheesebridge, known for its stinky cheeses and wealth obsessed residents. The townspeople know the legend of the boxtrolls as foul little creatures that come up from the depths to steal their precious children. As with any fable, things are not as they appear and illuminating lessons are to be learned by many.
I’m a sucker for Laika films and The Boxtrolls had me at its very first teaser trailer released in July of 2013:
In this tale, a young orphaned boy finds refuge and a family in the widely misunderstood and maligned box-dwelling trash collectors of the city. When the town exterminator makes it his mission to rid Cheesebridge of all the boxtrolls, the boy must brave the world he’s been sheltered from to save his friends.
The Boxtrolls follows the standard for having celebrity actors do voice-work for the animated film. Ben Kingsley does his best Michael Caine impression as the cheese-hungry exterminator Archiband Snatcher with Nick Frost, Tracy Morgan and Richard Ayoade as the henchmen. Game of Thrones’ Isaac Hempstead Wright is the orphaned boy tasked with saving the lives of the boxtrolls with the help of a girl Winnie, voiced most weakly of the bunch by Elle Fanning.
The Boxtrolls has everything a child could want from an animated film. Its original music by Dario Marianelli is whimsical and reminiscent of primo-composer John Williams. It has oddly distinct but cutely endearing creatures who speak in garbled gibberish sounds of gobbledygook. There’s a discernible villain with a clear and sinister motive and a simple but satisfying resolve to the film. And of course, plenty of child friendly jokes to keep the kids laughing with several more subtle laughs for adults.
As with the previous stop motion films released by Laika, The Boxtrolls is more somber than your typical animated feature film marketed toward children and touches on more adult-like themes. Yet, it fills the needs for both while adhering steadfastly to its creative and distinct vision.
The Boxtrolls – Review