Review: The Boxtrolls
There are those that live life in fear, while others in self-absorbed ignorance. Then there are those that shyly, nicely, scavenge about and build things in a cavern while communicating with gestures and snorts.
The last group would be the Boxtrolls. Unfortunately for them, the world above their subterranean dwelling is populated by those in the former two categories, in addition to one nefarious entrepreneur looking to reap the benefits of fear mongering at the expense of these kind creatures.
Adapted from the illustrated novel Here Be Monsters!, The Boxtrolls is the third imaginative film from Laika Studios (Coraline, ParaNorman), and is indeed bonkers and outrageously entertaining if not completely weird. In the town of Cheesebridge, where snooty egalitarians in white hats dine on the finest fromage, and townspeople carry on in fear of child-snatching monsters, the Boxtrolls live in simplistic bliss underground. Among them is a human boy.
His name is Eggs, of course so named after the cardboard box he wears around his torso; his closest friends – or is it relatives – are Fish and Shoe. For a reason that we learn later on, Eggs was a baby that the Boxtrolls raised as their own; Egg’s disappearance however prompted Cheesebridge’s Lord Portley-Rind to commission the sniveling Archibald Snatcher to hunt all the Boxtrolls; Snatcher’s reward would be said white hat and a seat at the cheese table amid the Cheese Guild one-percenters.
This stunningly-realized stop motion feature is rife with extraordinary detail, humour both clever and sophomoric, and a gentle core. While Eggs as a character takes a while to develop as the center of attention – Snatcher’s pursuit of the Boxtrolls alongside his three hysterical henchmen occupies the first third – his story is a simple, effective one about fitting in and being your true self. It also involves the Lord’s precocious and oft-ignored daughter Winnie, who gets whisked into this Boxtroll-saving lark, and delivers maybe the funniest, loudest laugh of the movie.
Of course on top of that is a tale about being afraid of those who are different in a film that at times is effectively creepy and again, bizarre. The allergy Snatcher has to cheese is decidedly uncomfortable, while one of his henchman is pure lunacy; the other two are on the verge of self-awareness to both moral and comedic extents.
The energy and determination of The Boxtrolls prevails above all else; this odd escape is full of heart and soul making it a joy to watch; even though you may scratch your head and do a double take.