Not many children’s movies would feature someone voicing the fear that the title characters would “kidnap me and slurp up my intestines like noodles,” but then again, “The Boxtrolls” is not like most other kid flicks.
Based on Alan Snow’s illustrated novel “Here Be Monsters!,” and from the folks who brought us the dark visions of “Coraline” and “ParaNorman,” “The Boxtrolls” is the most original film for young’uns to come out this year.
According to town father Lord Portley-Rind (voice of Jared Harris) of the Victorian-age town of Cheesebridge, the Boxtrolls are evil beasts that steal children, eat their faces and live underground among mountains of bones and rivers of blood. They’re so hideous there are even popular songs written about their dastardly deeds. To rid the community of these vile creatures Rind brings in a social-climbing exterminator named Archibald Snatcher (Ben Kingsley), who guarantees the complete annihilation of the trolls in return for a coveted White Hat and a place at the town’s exclusive cheese table.
The Boxtrolls, of course, aren’t evil. They are good-natured, green-skinned trolls who use cardboard boxes as camouflage, speak gibberish and get into mischief, like smelly Minions. Sure, they eat live bugs and live underground in a Rube Goldberg-esque steampunk world of machines made from parts salvaged from the garbage but they also love music and have raised a human child, Eggs (Isaac Hempstead Wright), as one of their own. If the Boxtrolls are to survive, Eggs will have to go head-to-head with Snatcher and his henchmen Mr. Pickles (Richard Ayoade), Mr. Trout (Nick Frost) and Mr. Gristle (Tracy Morgan).
Combining the atmosphere of Hammer horror films with slapstick humour, a deranged story, a “be who you are” message and morbidly marvelous attention to every stop-motion detail, “The Boxtrolls” is a trick and a treat.
Unabashedly weird and wonderful, the movie may be too scary for the little ones, but any child who has spent time with the “Goosebumps” series or “Lemony Snicket’s A Series of Unfortunate Events” shouldn’t be kept up at night by either the story or the visuals.
Instead they’ll likely be drawn in by the beautiful set decoration, the ingenious character design—the baddies all have the worst teeth since Austin Powers—and fun voice work. As the lactose intolerant Snatcher Kingsley has the most fun. It’s a flamboyant performance, inventive and eccentric, that will entertain kids and their parents.
“The Boxtrolls” is Pixar on drugs, a wild ride that isn’t afraid to mix a scare or two in with the kid stuff.