tek's rating:

The Boxtrolls (PG)
IMDb; Laika; Laika Wiki; Rotten Tomatoes; TV Tropes; Wikipedia
streaming sites: Amazon; Google Play; iTunes; Vudu; YouTube

The movie is set during the Victorian era, and the internet informs me that it's in the fictional town of Cheesebridge, though I don't recall ever hearing that name in the movie itself. Certainly it has a very British feel, and while watching it I thought more than once that it seemed like something that could have been made by Aardman, but in fact it was not.

It begins one night when a "red hat" named Archibald Snatcher (Ben Kingsley) informs a "white hat" named Lord Charles Portley-Rind that a baby had been killed by the Boxtrolls. Apparently everyone in Cheesebridge was afraid of the Boxtrolls, which are basically... trolls who wear cardboard boxes. Anyway, Snatcher wants to become a white hat, which I guess are the upper class of Cheesebridge. And Lord Portley-Rind promises he'll earn a white hat if he can exterminate all the Boxtrolls.

The movie then shows us that the baby has in fact not been killed, but rather taken in by the Boxtrolls. He wears a box that was used for eggs, so his name is Eggs, and his father-figure is Fish (Dee Bradley Baker). The only other Boxtroll we get to know at all is Shoe (Steve Blum). And after brief scenes of Eggs as a baby, the movie flashes forward ten years or so. Snatcher and his henchmen are nearly finished with collecting the Boxtrolls. And then one night, Lord Portley-Rind's daughter, Winnie (Elle Fanning), sees Eggs with some Boxtrolls. She's curious about the boy, and thinks he's been kidnapped by them. She tries to tell her father about him, but he doesn't listen to her. Eggs, meanwhile, has no idea that he's human; he thinks himself to be a Boxtroll, even though he looks different from them. (And he's still wearing the same box as when he was a baby, which of course no longer fits properly.) Anyway... Eggs wants to find out what's happened to all the Boxtrolls that have disappeared over the years. And he learns that humans have some very misguided ideas about Boxtrolls. The truth is that they never hurt anyone (though they do steal all kinds of stuff to build all kinds of... things... in their underground lair). And he meets Winnie, and learns his own true nature. And we learn the whole story of how he came to be taken in by the Boxtrolls, though I won't spoil that. And... Eggs and Winnie work together to foil Snatcher's plans.

And I guess that's all I want to divulge of the plot, but it's a strange and amusing movie. There were things that didn't really make sense to me, like how Eggs spoke English (though he understood the Boxtroll language, and yet presumably never noticed that he wasn't speaking it, himself). But mostly I didn't question things, and just enjoyed the absurdity. My favorite character was surely Winnie, who had a simultaneous fear of the Boxtrolls based on all the stories she'd ever heard of them, and a delightfully macabre fascination and even eagerness to witness the reality of those stories. (Of course she would end up being a bit disappointed when she learned it was all lies, but ultimately she would become just as eager to help spread the truth about them.)


stop-motion index