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Friday, June 19, 2015

THE BOXTROLLS (2014)

The poster links this to Laika Entertainment’s CORALINE/’09 and PARANORMAN/’12,’ though the films share neither directors (here Graham Annable & Anthony Stacchi) nor sensibilities. Victorian Gothic, rather than Modern Day Goth, this fable about a kidnapped boy, presumed dead at the hands of the Boxtroll Monsters, but living happily as one of them, is something of a good-natured mess. The script takes a while to sort things out, and the creative team tends toward Stop-Motion overkill as if the technique were a competitive sport. But you’ll eventually warm up to the characters & story as a town of fearful snobs slowly figure out they’ve been lied to by a quartet of social climbing villains and that the Boxtrolls are themselves harmless victims. Thirty-percent less effort might have made this twice as effective (check out any Aardman Animation for confirmation*), but there’s still plenty to delight in here. Especially the endearingly funny vocal & animated characterization of lead kid ‘Eggs,’ wonderfully voiced by Isaac Hempstead Wright. Not one for the ages, but perhaps for a weekday night.

SCREWY THOUGHT OF THE DAY: You keep expecting this crew to break out into a showstopping number from OLIVER!/’68 or some other early Dickens musical adaptation. Maybe that’s what’s missing.

DB: *Why not start with Aardman’s wicked & hilarious CHICKEN RUN/’00.

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