Running Time: 1 hour 37 minutes
The citizens of Cheesebridge have long lived above a bustling society of tinkerers and scavengers known asThe Boxtrolls. For ages the Boxtrolls have been thought of as little more than an annoyance, until one fateful night when a baby is stolen and the pursuing father disappears. A curfew is instituted and Archibald Snatcher (Ben Kingsley) vows to exterminate every last Boxtroll in exchange for membership in the ruling council of Cheesebridge. Ten years later, the missing baby has grown into a boy known as Eggs (Isaac Hempstead Wright) who has lived his whole life with the Boxtrolls and loves them like they are family. As the numbers of his Boxtrolls has greatly dwindled due to the efforts of Snatcher and his cronies, Eggs decides that it is time to stop hiding and show the people of Cheesebridge that the real monster is Archibald Snatcher.
After a summer of pretty poor options for kids, I thought that The Boxtrolls was a fun, inventive breath of fresh air. Laika Entertainment, the studio that brought us Coraline, Paranorman and The Corpse Bride has delivered another visual feast replete with an army of well-defined characters and whimsical environments. Stop motion animation, even though it is so much more time consuming and labor intensive than computer animation, has an extra layer of texture and depth to it that is almost it’s own character. The voice work was particularly good as well, with most of the laughs in the film coming as a result of tone and inflection choices that turn good lines into great one. Tracy Morgan, Richard Ayoade and Nick Frost have some hilarious exchanges as Snatcher’s henchmen and Elle Fanning is delightful as Winnie Portly-Rind, the spoiled rich girl who comes to Eggs’ aid.
There were a few small issues with the film (some scenes lasted too long, not enough of the Boxtrolls are given distinct personalities and almost every adult is clueless and neglectful), but those are easy to overlook. This film managed to be both playful and have a good message tucked neatly into the story and I think kids will be engrossed by the action and imagination. B+