The Boxtrolls have raised an orphaned human boy named Eggs (Isaac Hempstead-Wright) since infancy as one of their own, diving in dumpsters looking for mechanical items and old junk that they can use. But soon The Boxtrolls are targeted for extermination by the villainous pest-exterminator Archibald Snatcher (Ben Kingsley), who believes ridding the town of these vermin will help him reach the upper echelons of the Cheesebridge Society. The cave-dwelling group, along with Eggs and rich posh girl Winnie (Elle Fanning) must use all their initiative to out-manoeuvre them but also help bring the two worlds (above and below ground) closer together.
After the success of ParaNorman and before that Coraline, Laika Studios continue their trend of claymation movies that have a slight alternate/darker edge to them which kids seem to absolutely adore (perhaps their first foray into horror?).
Laika’s idea of creating these two worlds – light/dark, rich/poor – is ripped direct from society and they decide to plunge it into the world of kids’ animation. An ingenious idea that helps younger viewers understand that essentially we should all be treated the same no matter what.
The Boxtrolls, seen as outsiders from the start, soon warm the heart as we learn more about them and their lives. They are a fun, playful bunch that communicate through grunts and groans. Never really sure what they are saying but still able to understand the main points, we became at one with this rag-tag bunch of lovable misfits. Their underground den is littered with bits and pieces that are fitted together to create weird and wonderful inventions.
When evil comes a calling it’s in the shape of bloated, sweaty men who feel The Boxtrolls could be their way to cheese (cheese being a telling metaphor for cash wealth). As each Boxtroll is captured we became more and more angry with this injustice and were willing Eggs and Winnie every step of the way to rescue their friends. Some of these daring rescues involved as much running, jumping and hiding as we used to do back in the park when we were a lot younger. It’s more clever work from Laika as they draw on everyone’s childhood memories.
Eggs’ is a fun character that leads the line well and he does have some laugh out loud moments, but the enjoyment comes from The Boxtrolls. The finale is a fitting rollercoaster of will-they-wont-they that may have an obvious ending but it’s crammed full of non-stop thrilling action.
Laika have now become a rival to Aardman in their stop-motion work. Whilst The Boxtrolls might be darker than most it’s still filled with light-hearted comedy and a dabble of romance as well. The animation is, as to be expected, incredible. It’s not fluffy but rather gothic in its style as it echoes some of the early work from Tim Burton. Gorgeous to look at even with the dulled, ugly colours Laika make it feel bright and vivid at every possible opportunity.
The Boxtrolls offers so much for every age. It’s high on comedy and also inspiration. The Incredible animation showcases only part of what makes this film such a pleasure to watch. Just don’t watch it whilst eating cheese.