By CYNTHIA Z. BIDDLECOMB
“The Boxtrolls” is marvelous in so many ways. This stop-action (and CG) animated feature takes you to the underground world of a community of trolls who wear boxes for clothing.
Each is named for the product advertised on his or her box. Thus, Fish and Shoe are the main trolls we get to know. And then, of course, there is Eggs.
Eggs (voiced by Isaac Hempstead Wright) is a 10-year-old human boy, thought to have been kidnapped by the boxtrolls as a baby. Stories of how monstrous the trolls are grew out of that misunderstanding. Fish has raised Eggs and taught him the trolls’ mechanical skills and the beauty of their communal life.
“The upper world” that the boxtrolls enter at night to raid the rubbish heaps is the island mountain village of Cheesebridge. The humans inhabiting Cheesebridge love to eat cheese, and their social and political culture grows from that very distracting passion. They (ill-advisedly) trust Archibald Snatcher (voiced by Ben Kingsley) to control the boxtrolls. His mission is to exterminate all of the boxtrolls—for which he expects to be rewarded with the coveted white hat and a position on the town council. (The council, you see, meets in its own very exclusive cheese tasting room.)
Movie poster for ‘The Boxtrolls.’
The rich but neglected daughter of Lord Portley-Rind, little Winnie (voiced by Elle Fanning), spots the boy running around at night with the boxtrolls and becomes curious. The story spins from there, with Winnie eventually helping Eggs to put an end to the terrorizing Mr. Snatcher.
“Marvelous” is what I call the creativity of this story and its realization on film… Trolls take discarded junk and make clever Victorian era machines from it. Eggs believes he is a boxtroll with a speech impediment since he doesn’t grunt like the rest of the boxtrolls. (We can actually understand him when he speaks.) The society built around the cult of cheese is quite funny.
But best of all, for us grownups, is the philosophical musings of Snatcher’s two articulate (out of three) henchmen, Mr. Trout (Nick Frost) and Mr. Pickles (Richard Ayoade). They occasionally wonder out loud to each other whether they really are the good guys, as they were initially led to believe.
At the end of the film, as the credits begin to roll, they discuss their very existence and whether or not there might be a creator moving each part of them to say, make their eyes blink. Trout decides that would really put a damper on freewill.
“The Boxtrolls” is rated PG due to the dark and truly scary scenes of Snatcher’s attempts to kill all the boxtrolls. The British accents of the characters might also prove difficult for small children to understand. This film might be more appropriate for children at least 8 years of age. Everyone else, especially those who appreciate art and stop-action animation, should definitely see this marvelous 97-minute film.