"Don't Do It. You'll Never Change Who You Are."
And I was, a little bit, by “The Boxtrolls”, but my hopes were pretty high to begin with. The plot is pretty standard: persecuted group (The Boxtrolls) takes in orphan from the ruling class (human society) and raise him as one of their own. He later grows up and rejoins the ruling class, championing those who raised him and helping them integrate into society at large. Been there. Seen it.
There’s a reason this kind of story keeps getting told; persecution is a constant throughout human history in some form or another. The way this film tells this story irritates me because it hinges on the idea that EVERYONE in the film, the villain, the Boxtrolls, the townspeople, the hoity-toity governors, are morons. There is a scene before the climax in which everything is literally spelled out to the most powerful man in town and he does not take any of it in. It’s not a portrayal of willful ignorance, which I could get behind, but pathological idiocy. It takes much too long for anyone to notice that the bad guy is, in fact, the bad guy, which I guess is the point and I could get behind that if our villain wasn’t literally a dirty, egomaniacal caricature of a man. He is OBVIOUSLY evil. I have little patience for this kind of blatant belittling of humanity, because the reasons for persecution are usually a lot more complex and terrifying than the simple fact that the people who could stop it are just looking the other way, or worse, can’t TELL that it’s happening.
Now that I’ve got all that negative energy out of the way, I’m going to tell you that despite all of the flaws in the story, you should absolutely see this movie and YES bring the kids. Studio Laika’s gotten the bulk of its attention because of its stunning visual style, and this film doesn’t disappoint. The city this story takes place in is a town built on a winding diagonal, visually representing the classwork at play throughout the film. The Boxtrolls themselves are a joy to watch, infinitely charming, and their culture was clearly thought through and well-presented in the film. I gave some shit to the villain earlier, but he and his cronies are still great baddies that both play into villainous archetypes and sometimes subvert them. I found myself kind of wishing that the filmmakers had thrown the script out and played the whole thing out visually. The audience would have gotten the message, and it might have helped them avoid writing themselves into corners.
In the end, though, charm wins out. “The Boxtrolls” is a solid, fun effort from Studio Laika that older children especially will love. I’m more than invested in what the studio will bring us in the coming years.
Boxed wine. Something that pairs nicely with a fine cheese.
-Drink whenever a Boxtroll is called by name.
-Drink whenever the bad guys question their motives.
-Drink when a Boxtroll is captured.
-Drink when cheese or another dairy product is mentioned.
-Drink when someone says the words "white hat" OR the words "red hat".
This review was written by Hollis Beck (Krissy Pappau). "The Boxtrolls" is produced by Laika Entertainment and distributed by Focus Features. The film is rated "PG" with a runtime of 97 minutes.