The Boxtrolls is a bizarre, irreverent and slightly ludicrous amalgam of stop-motion animation and CGI wizardry from the makers of Coraline that somehow works, even better than its predecessors. No big surprise: the elements that this caper gets by on are vivid characterizations and a whimsical, fun script. The film starts on the strong note of presenting its villain, Archibald Snatcher, voiced wonderfully (also no big surprise) by Ben Kingsley. From there, The Boxtrolls takes a little time to gain momentum, but once it does, it only gets stronger.
Here we have a young orphan named Eggs (named as such due to the box he grows up in, voiced by Isaac Hempstead Wright) who ends up being raised by creepy but friendly subterranean trash collectors known as the Boxtrolls. These creatures are feared by the townsfolk above, and opportunistic brown-noser Archibald Snatcher hopes to rid the town of the Boxtrolls in hopes of finally being accepted by the upper crust of society. Or shall we say upper rind: many of the film’s human characters possess an insane, and highly amusing, preoccupation with cheese.
From there the film goes in several different directions, all of which are equally entertaining: Madame Frou Frou, falling into the underexplored category of cartoon drag, is particularly amazing. As the defiant heroine Winnie, young adult belle du jour Elle Fanning (Maleficent) is a charming addition, managing to be alternately puggish and cute. The other major standout is 30 Rock’s Tracy Morgan as one of Archibald‘s stooges, reminding of Steve Carell in Anchorman (in other words, brilliantly funny stuff).
All this eventually leads to some gleefully ‘meta’ end credits, leaving viewers with a world that is imaginative, inventive and also very odd. In short, The Boxtrolls can be summed up in this fabulous line uttered by Elle: “If you’re going to eat me, do it quick! I’m sure I’m delicious!”
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