UK Release: 12/09/2014
Directed by: Graham Annable, Anthony Stacchi
Starring: Isaac Hempstead Wright, Ben Kingsley, Richard Ayoade, Nick Frost, Elle Fanning
It’s a dark and stormy night in the town of Cheesebridge when young Winnie – a girl obsessed with the grotesque creatures known as boxtrolls – witnesses a young boy being dragged away by the terrible creatures. But all is not as it seems in this comedic romp that takes childhood fairy-tale expectations and tips them on their head.
The Boxtrolls tells the story of a young boy named Eggs – so called because he lives amongst the boxtrolls as one of their own. Named after the discarded boxes they clamber into, we find a hilarious cast of supposedly-hideous boxtrolls… and this is where the fun begins.
It’s obvious from the outset that something is not quite right in the town of Cheesebridge. Winnie’s father – Lord Portley-Rind – is obsessed with cheese, along with the rest of the town. In fact, they’re so pre-occupied with the pursuit of cheese, that the nefarious plot of Archibald Snatcher (Ben Kingsley) goes completely un-noticed…
Determined to earn his place amongst the Cheesebridge high-society, Snatcher has been working on a rather devious plan. Muddying the reputation of the boxtrolls, Snatcher has convinced the town that they’re evil, no-good monsters… and by hunting them down, he’s the hero this town needs. Or so they think.
Ben Kingsley’s cross-dressing villain is truly a sight to behold. And with lofty ambitions, he’s a villain that goes beyond mere evil-doings. And that’s a real breath of fresh air when it comes to children’s movies.
But it’s Snatcher’s henchmen who really shine.
From the very first moments of the film, Mr Trout and Mr Pickles are clearly not your bog-standard evil-doers. In fact, that’s a neat little thread that runs through the entire film – they truly believe that they’re the good guys. Even if they do begin to question the situation from the off.
And they’re visually surprising too. The usual stereotypes of a big, hulking oaf being a complete buffon is flipped on its head, with the hulking Mr Pickles clearly being the brains of the operation… and often being the one to question the morality of their occupation.
It’s a subtle play on the usually transparent motives of villains in children’s films. And it’s a rather brilliant touch. Voiced by Richard Ayoade and Nick Frost, the comedic value is instantly cashed in… and it certainly adds another dimension to the film for the many grown-ups who will be dragged to see this movie.
But while it may look like a simple ‘kids film’ from the outside, I can’t help thinking even the most reluctant parent will find themselves grinning with delight at the comedy timing and heart-warming storey of ‘The Boxtrolls’.
And that’s certainly no accident.
From the same studio that brought us ‘Coraline’, it’s clear that The Boxtrolls has been designed with similar visuals and an incredibly interesting story. The premise is simple, but the delivery is far from it. Instead, the film tackles complicated issues of family and morality all wrapped up in a neat little box.
And with plenty of slapstick silliness, your kids will love it too.