Saturday, September 27, 2014

The Boxtrolls movie is artistically outstanding, but stylistically icky

Movie Title:  The BoxTrolls

Grade:  B

In a Nutshell:  From the quirky and creepy creators of Coraline and Paranorman , this family flick has a steampunk feel to it and features the voice talents of Ben Kingsley, Toni Collette, Elle Fanning, and Jared Harris. 

Based on the book Here Be Monsters! (The Ratbridge Chronicles) by Alan Snow, this dark and dirty animation feels more like an unnerving mixture between Charles Dickens and Sweeney Todd: The Demon Barber of Fleet Street for kids…if that’s your cup of murky tea.  While the animation is impressive, it’s not entirely appropriate for young children.

The clay-mation style is known as stop-motion, but this film also includes CGI, making it an interesting blend of actual objects and pixel magic.

Uplifting theme: 
  • “Cheese, hats, boxes…they don’t make you.  You make yourself.” – Eggs
  • Stand up and fight for yourself and what’s right.

Things I liked:
  • Laika does an amazing job with depth-of-field.  There is so much to see in each screen shot.
  • The 3D effect is pretty impressive, especially the fog and smoke.
  • Artistically speaking, the animation was outstanding.  Stylistically, it wasn’t my favorite.

Things I didn’t like:
  • There were more disgusted “ewwww’s” than charmed “ahhhh’s” from the audience.  Lots of ick moments.
  • Some of the Cockney accents were hard to understand, especially in the beginning of the movie.
  • The BoxTrolls sound like Gollum in Lord of the Rings.
  • I don't see merchandising for this movie going very far.  Who wants to play with a creepy, dirty troll in a box?

Funny lines:
  • “Do you think the BoxTrolls understand the duality of good and evil?”  - Mr. Trout
  • “If you’re going to eat me, just get on with it.  I’m sure I’m delicious.” – Winnie
  • “Be prepared to say bye-bye to your brie, cheerio to your cheddar.”  - Archibald Snatcher
  • “We’re the exterminators of justice.  We exterminate justice.”  - Mr. Pickles
  • “Curds Way? How do I get there?”  - Eggs
“Milk turns into it.”  -  Winnie   (Get it?  Curds and whey…)
  • “The Briehemouth!”  - Lord Portley-Rind
  • “A woman like that is like raw, bold, maybe a little stinky.”  - Lord Portley-Rind

Tips for parents:  This is a twisted version of Victorian England that includes some violence, but no profanity. You might need to explain to your kids how leeches were actually used as a medical device long ago and that some people are lactose intolerant.  The BoxTrolls gather discarded items, but they also steal.  The villain is an unhinged cross-dresser and truly evil. There is discussion in the movie about what a good father is and does.  I think young children will be both frightened and bored.

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