boxtrolls Don't Sit On The Box
The Boxtrolls
Voices of: Isaac Hempstead-Wright, Elle Fanning, Sir Ben Kingsley, Toni Collette, Jared Harris, Nick Frost, Tracy Morgan and Simon Pegg
Directors: Graham Annable and Anthony Stacchi
Scriptwriters: Irene Brignull and Adam Paria from the novel by Alan Snow “Here Be Monsters!”
Composer: Dano Marianelli with “The Boxtroll Song” by Eric Idle
Focus Features/Universal
Rating: PG for children in peril, themed material and frightening scenes
Rating: PG
“The Boxtrolls” may be marketed toward children, but it is sometimes scary (especially everyone’s teeth) and better for kids over the ages of 8 or 9. Culprits lurk everywhere and even cheese is a hazard, no, not your grocery store variety, but stuff that resembles mold on a football stadium wall. This particular film is adapted from a novel called “Here Be Monsters!” by Alan Snow. Animation is stop motion and the characters are elongated, as in the animated film of a few years ago called “Coraline.” This allows a different view point that isn't cutesy, but rather lurking and devious. “The Boxtrolls” is a story of lost and found, villains, intelligent girls, boys without a clue and little creatures living in boxes who are as cute as the Minions (the "Despicable Me" films.) The story is set about 1850 or so and the clothes and town resemble something from a Charles Dickens novel.
The story begins the suspicions that Boxtrolls eat children, etc, etc, etc. We see they are gentle creatures who use small boxes as clothing. One night, thugs are beating up a scientist who secretly works with the box trolls to repair objects. To save his son, the scientist tosses him from a window and he is caught and taken away to be safe, wearing a box with an egg on the front. Hence his name will be Egg (voice of Isaac Hempstead-Wright). Other trolls are Fish (box has a fish on the front), Wheels and Bucket (all voiced by Dee Bradley Baker.)  We see that the Trolls go out every night and gather trash, from which they make workable objects, plus they like opera.
Years pass and Egg is a young adult who is discovered by a human girl, Winnie (voice of Elle Fanning). She is no-nonsense, sneaking out at night away from her clueless father (voice of Jared Harris) who is head of the town council (high society) and the regal Cheese Tasting group. Not everyone can eat cheese, though, and an allergy reaction and cure in 3-D can be realistic for someone in the audience who has severe allergy reactions.
Enter the villain and head troll-hunter, Snatcher (voice of Sir Ben Kingsley). If he can catch all the trolls, he will earn a White Hat (like a crown) and join the Council. There are captures, escapes, double-dealing and frightening moments. The running joke throughout is the identity of one of the crooks and I saw a comparison between this and the Jack Lemmon movie,  “Some Like It Hot.” 
The movie is slower-paced until halfway and then it gains momentum. There is so much going on with the intricate detail of stop-motion that you can't get it all in. The soundtrack matches the screen action just right, and there are witticisms which may fly over the heads of children. The creatures that come in the night may not be monsters, but helpful and shy, plus, in one instance, downright fatherly. In fact, someone gives a soft and gentle speech about what goes into being a father. This is a story of good and evil who want things their way and that’s it. Using small creatures in boxes (and what kid doesn't like to play in a box) as the passive ones and humans with enormous egos as the aggressive ones is clever. Trying to take away the box is taking away their identity and that is what the power-hungry crave, either in a book, movie or real life. Who will be the clever one, after all?
Copyright 2014 Marie Asner
For other movie reviews on animated films, see the following:
How To Train Your Dragon 2
*Review of the music soundtrack for “How To Train Your Dragon 2” will be online Sept. 2014
The Wind Rises