THE BOXTROLLS Review – Are They the Monsters or Are We?

Full disclosure:  I hate spoilers in reviews, so there won’t be any in this THE BOXTROLLS review.  THE BOXTROLLS is the third movie from the Laika team, following CORALINE and PARANORMAN in their stop-motion tradition and they’re getting better with each new movie.  I LOVED this movie.  The Boxtrolls may be small, underground creatures, but they are going to be BIG up here!  Continue reading for the full THE BOXTROLLS review, and click here for all the official clips, images, and more for THE BOXTROLLS.

THE BOXTROLLS

THE BOXTROLLS film is based on Alan Snow’s book Here Be Monsters!, but the movie takes a completely different direction from the book.  I usually prefer the book to the movie, but with THE BOXTROLLS, the screenplay writers created a new story with elements of the book so that the movie enhanced, rather than adapted, the story.  The Boxtrolls are little creatures who clothe themselves with boxes and are named for either their skill or the type of box they wear.  They live underground, coming up at night to scavenge for building materials, especially mechanical devices, for their underground home, which is a steampunk wonderland.

THE BOXTROLLS

Above-ground, is Cheesebridge, run by the council of White Hats obsessively focused on cheese. [I’m not sure that’s a bad thing, but maybe it’s about the obsession and not the cheese.]  Snatcher (voiced by Sir Ben Kingsley), the leader of the Red Hats, is desperate for a White Hat and the cheese that goes with it.  He has an obsessive hatred of Boxtrolls and finagles a deal with the White Hats to exterminate the creatures (by scaremongering that the Boxtrolls want their cheese) in exchange for a White Hat.  And so, the purge begins…

THE BOXTROLLS

The connection between the two worlds is Eggs (Isaac Hempstead Wright), a human baby raised by the Boxtrolls.

THE BOXTROLLS

Eggs’ efforts to save the Boxtrolls lead him above ground and into the human world (enjoy the traditional comic scene of an outsider trying to fit into society without knowing, or understanding the reasons for, the rules), where he is discovered by, and then works with, Winnie Portley-Rind (voiced by Elle Fanning), the daughter of Lord Portley-Rind, the leader of the Cheese Guild.  Their struggles, both between them and with their mis-matched pre-conceptions and expectations, will resonate with children.

THE BOXTROLLS

THE BOXTROLLS is a story of growth and personal discovery with more than a splash of mockery of elitism and a dash of political corruption commentary.  What makes a family/parent/person who they are is an important theme of the movie – it’s not all about nature vs. nurture.  Thinking for oneself and being open to change are also important themes.  In fact, I think one of the best parts of the movie is the running philosophical conversation between Mr. Pickles (Richard Ayoade) and Mr. Trout (Nick Frost) and the progression of those characters throughout the film.   I think adults and older children will really respond to it.

THE BOXTROLLS

While the use of stop-motion animation may seem old-fashioned in today’s CGI world, it was the perfect medium for this story, with its Victorian-era fashions and steampunk creativity.  There were only four songs and they were also well-balanced with the movie.  My favorite was Eric Idle’s song over the credits.  The voice actors, with a strong British presence created voice and personalities for the characters that charm and engage.  One of my favorites was Richard Ayoade, who I know from British television (especially The IT Crowd and The Mighty Boosh).  He played Mr. Pickles to perfection.  Whenever an actor makes me forget I’m seeing or hearing him/her, I know it’s a good performance.  There were very few cases where I guessed who the actor was voicing characters in THE BOXTROLLS.  If I hadn’t read the credits, I would have never known Snatcher was played by Sir Ben Kingsley.

THE BOXTROLLS

THE BOXTROLLS

THE BOXTROLLS is suitable for all ages, though there are some scary scenes.  As I mentioned in the opening, I loved this movie, and can’t wait to see it again with my nieces and nephews.  I hope it’ll inspire your little ones to read the book, Here Be Monsters!, too.  If it weren’t for the Boxtrolls’ diet (read more about that here), I would have loved to be raised by them.  Although, on the other hand, I do love cheese an awful lot.  Hmmm . . . no, I’m going with the Boxtrolls.  And so should you!  Be sure to stay for the final scene, which is another philosophical conversation between Mr. Pickles and Mr. Trout with a creative fade to a technical reveal.

THE BOXTROLLS

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About George Gensler

George Gensler is a copyrights specialist during the week and a runner on the weekends. She lives in New York City now, but has lived in five countries on three continents. She grew up traveling the world, but her official residence was in Southern California and every visit home included a trip to Disneyland. She has also visited every Disney Park around the world and sailed on board two Disney cruises. She threw in a visit to the Disney Family museum in San Francisco for good measure, and has had the Premier Disney Park Pass since its inception.