This movie is really interesting. It’s a stop-motion film from the studio that did ParaNorman and Coraline and it’s about this really odd town called Cheesebridge and the strange creatures that live underneath the city, the boxtrolls, and a young boy that they’ve taken in and raised from a baby. It’s a decidedly strange film and a really gross and grotesque one. The animation style has been very divisive, but I found it to be really striking and amazing. The character designs are really grotesque; the film seems to be pointing out that the trolls are seen as monsters, but really it’s the cruel, venal humans that are the real monsters. Point made, after you’ve seen some of these designs. The film occasionally rides this too far, in my opinion. I admire the film for its steadfast convictions about being gross, but it does occasionally get a little too nasty for my tastes. I mean, there’s comically and artistically grotesque and then there’s unpleasant. The story is surprisingly engaging however and the emotional resonance is actually there. I totally bought the erstwhile father son relationship between Eggs, the abandoned child, and Fish, the boxtroll that raised him; got a nice lump in the throat a couple of times with scenes between them. This is even more amazing because the boxtrolls speak only in gibberish. The designs are so great on them that they feel real and unique even so. And then there’s the villainous Archibald Snatcher, an anti-box troll zealot that has dedicated his life to tracking down and capturing boxtrolls. I was genuinely shocked at just how rich that character is; his motivations unfold as the film goes on and he really becomes a fascinating character with some great conflicting motivations. I might add that Ben Kingsley voices him and this is easily Kingsley’s best performance since Sexy Beast; it’s a phenomenal performance. And the film has some nice themes going on as far as our ability to change, what we can change about ourselves and what we can’t. Anyway, some of the characters are a little flat and some of the humor is gross and stupid, but, on the whole, I found it to be a really superlative movie. Oh, and stay for the behind the scenes bit during the credits; it’s breathtaking. Anyway, it might genuinely be too scary and dark for your kids, so you might check it out first yourself before taking them, if you’re a parent. But, yeah, go see it, even if you’re not a parent. Very good movie. Recommended. 3 ½ stars.
tl;dr – occasionally overly gross, this movie is still amazingly designed, surprisingly heartfelt and features a few rich and well developed characters; perhaps too dark for some kids, but a very good movie on the whole. 3 ½ stars.