Studio Laika’s The Boxtrolls is a very bourgeois film. Unless viewers know something about how European nations historically treated the lower class, some aspects of the tale will feel alien. Some explanation is offered in the home video release’s director’s commentary, but for the most part, the point of the bonus material is to show how much work was put into this adaptation of Alan Snow’s children’s novel, “Here Be Monsters!”
The story takes place in the fictional country of Norvenia rather than some real world. Anyone who has studied Western Civilization knows how some growing cities saw revolt when one social class chastised another. As a result, this film examines the problems facing the town of Cheesebridge. A baby is lost, and Archibald Snatcher (wonderfully voiced by Ben Kingsley) blames the trolls! Those who fear them stay safe in their domiciles, while the monsters and a human boy named Eggs (Isaac Hempstead Wright) skirt the city at night. These night crawlers scavenge for food and other sundries to make their life underground possible.
Directors Graham Annable and Anthony Stacchi crafted an adorable first act which sees the child grow up. But as for whether the boy knows where he’s from, the awareness doesn’t materialise until he meets Winnie (Elle Fanning). This girl eventually comes around to his way of thinking but her struggle to understand was tainted long ago by Snatcher’s rhetoric. His “kill all trolls” campaign is propaganda, and the reasons why concerns more than the disappearance of a boy long ago.
This well-meaning story deals with how to challenge those misanthropic norms that troubled archaic worlds. It’s not just about Marxism or identifying individuals because of their lot in life. As a result, youths may not appreciate this story as much as those who have decided to make social studies their major. There’s also a huge conflict going on between the “Red Hats” and “White.”
Also, kids are not as likely to buy the merchandise featuring Fish, Wheels, Bucket (all hilariously performed by (Dee Bradley Baker), Shoe, or Sparky (Steve Blum). That can make for a tough film to market in America, since the animated medium isn’t often seen as a place to make statements about developing civilizations.
However, those who remember the British puppet show Spitting Image will understand The Boxtrolls! From this perspective, the satire is recognisable. The design of the film is more obvious when you consider the team siding with Snatcher. In the end, this story is about everyone—social classes included—being able to get along. That’s what defines progress.
4 Stars out of 5