A family event movie from the creators of Coraline and ParaNorman that introduces audiences to a new breed of family – The Boxtrolls, a community of quirky, mischievous creatures who have lovingly raised an orphaned human boy named Eggs (voiced by Isaac Hempstead-Wright) in the amazing cavernous home they’ve built beneath the streets of Cheesebridge. When the town’s villain, Archibald Snatcher (Academy Award winner Ben Kingsley), comes up with a plot to get rid of the Boxtrolls, Eggs decides to venture above ground, “into the light,” where he meets and teams up with fabulously feisty Winnifred (Elle Fanning). Together, they devise a daring plan to save Eggs’ family.
With Coraline and ParaNorman, Laika Studios gave a tremendous one-two punch of an introduction to the animated film community. They cement their status as producers of top-notch animated films with The Boxtrolls. Like its predecessors, The Boxtrolls deals with scary characters and child protagonists, but unlike its predecessors, The Boxtrolls has more in common with the works of Aardman Animations, including its largely British cast and sense of humor.
The Boxtrolls may fit into the monster mold, but they prove to be far more charming and cute than terrifying. Their boxes come from the trash, and each Boxtroll gets their name from the product the box held – hence the name “Eggs” for our protagonist. The true monster is the villain, Snatcher – and not just because of the fact that he’s the villain. His already grotesque features take on an exaggerated form due to a particular allergy, which provides the film with some of its most outrageous visuals.
Films aimed at children where the kids are smarter than the adults around them are hardly unique in today’s market. It’s a credit to The Boxtrolls, though, that the adults’ idiocy involves some truly absurd issues, such as the obsession with cheese shared by Snatcher and Lord Portley-Rind – the town’s name is Cheesebridge, for an idea of the love of frommage by this town. That focus makes the messages of the film aim more for the adult characters than the children.
My sole complaint is one that’s been building through multiple films. The Boxtrolls marks the third film from Elle Fanning where she uses a British accent, and it’s bad. It’s not one that’s gotten any better since Ginger & Rosa, and Maleficent didn’t make it better either.
Fortunately, the rest of the large, talented cast (including Jared Harris, Simon Pegg, Nick Frost, Richard Ayoade and Tracy Morgan) more than makes up for Fanning’s accent. And as you could guess by the comedic talents included in the cast, there’s plenty of humor for adults to appreciate in this film. With something for everyone, The Boxtrolls should be the viewing choice for families this season.