Voices of: Ben Kingsley Jared Harris Elle Fanning Jared Harris Isaac H. Wright Tracy Morgan
The filmmakers seem to have produced Boxtrolls to appeal to a wide range of ages, although it may be too scary for very young children. But the animation, special effects, messages about individuation (creating oneself), and appreciation of differences among people will hold most children’s interest. Some messages are clearly for adults and may pass over the heads of younger audiences—such as the importance of listening to children, adult ambition growing into hubris, thoughtfulness about one’s values, and critiquing what people who are trying to lead have to say, without simply following along blindly. There is a subtler message perhaps for current times when so many people aspire to be rich, but when they succeed, may not have the breeding that would make them conscientious about social issues.
The story opens with shots of the Boxtrolls coming out at night to scavenge among the garbage cans. Although they have the reputation (planted by the bad guy), of being monsters who eat children, they actually are inventive in repairing and recycling the objects they find. But there is an Archibald Snatcher (Kingsley) in Cheesebridge who has aspirations of being a “white hat” and getting to sit with town leaders for cheese tastings. However, Lord Portley-Rind (Harris) tells him he must earn a white hat; he cannot just grab one. Snatcher then offers to capture all the Boxtrolls and deliver them to Portley-Rind in exchange for a white hat. Portley-Rind is unaware of the Snatcher’s role with the Boxtrolls, so agrees to the deal.
Portley-Rind’s daughter Winnie (Fanning) is a highly curious little girl who has gotten wind that something is going on with the Boxtrolls, and she tries to inform her father, but he is so caught up in himself and his position he doesn’t pay any attention to her. By chance, Winnie sees the boy Eggs (Wright--Bran Stark in Game of Thrones), and although he has a box on him, recognizes that he is a boy. He is actually the missing child from years ago, who was given to a Boxtroll by his father when Snatch was capturing the father, an inventor. Winnie and Eggs gradually become friends and begin to work together to save the Boxtrolls.
While I was watching this film, I thought it was well done; but after I left and started thinking about it, I realized how many good messages it contains. Many of them are so subtle, they might be missed initially. The animation is really fine, it is fast moving—but not too fast for children, I think—and its messages are most worthwhile, especially for our time.
Happy, fun-loving, recycling Boxtrolls—Ah, to have more of them!
By Donna R. Copeland