BoxTrolls, a story of an orphaned boy adopted by kind-hearted, misunderstood recluses who are hunted by a team of genocidal mercenaries, is a dimly colored, Dickens era stop-motion film unworthy of 3-D glasses.
The box trolls, an unintelligible group of scavengers cleverly named for the boxes that they wear (Fish, Shoe, Eggs and so on) are hunted by the much loathed, grotesque and lactose intolerant Archibald Snatcher; who longs for entry into the coveted tasting room of the cheese-eating ruling class.
As Snatcher’s henchmen, Mr. Trout, Mr. Gristle and Mr. Pickles, busy with troll hunting, Snatcher, disguised as his cross-dressing persona, Madame Frou-Frou, incites fear into the hearts of the simpletons of Cheesebridge all the while gaining the sexually confused admirations of Lord Portly-Rind.
The box trolls, accused of stealing and eating the town’s babies and worse yet, the town’s cheese, are forced underground and begin to dissipate as the three henchmen become proficient at doing the work of the upright and respected.
Predictably Mr. Trout and Mr. Pickles have a change of heart and turn against their leader at the opportune moment when the boy’s inventor father makes a timely reappearance. The downtrodden win the day!
The greater message of the film, either genocide is bad or don’t eat cheese if you are lactose intolerant, is completely lost on the children and the adults as well. The writing seemed secondary to the film’s stop-motion artistry.
In fact, critics chastised moviegoers, particularly American moviegoers, for not being shrewd enough to get the nuances of British humor.
I, admittedly, was too distracted to catch any nuances simply because I could not get past the color of Mr. Snatcher and his henchmen: diseased and corpse-like green. Having witnessed many a diseased and deceased body in my line of work, the attempt to capture the grotesque was not lost on me. Have to say they nailed it.
About half way through one of the boys asked, “Mrs. Deinhammer, when is this movie going to be over?” There is your endorsement.
Thank goodness kids are resilient. We had a BoxTrolls-inspired party set up in the backyard. Staged with boxes collected from local dollar stores, paper grenades and airplanes, one group of boys fastened their boxes with bungee cords, the other, the Exterminators, armed themselves with newspaper helmets and swords.
The boys improved the plot as only eight year olds could. The battle lasted a whole 30 seconds.
It was not so important for us adults to enjoy the film. We wanted the boys to enjoy it. But the film was not meant for either of us.
The filmmakers found it more important to score flouncy artistic points with industry insiders than to earn accolades from the audience.
BoxTrolls is another self-congratulatory release by the motion picture industry. General audiences and box office numbers are of no consequence.