Another movie that I wanted to see in theaters but didn’t get the chance to was the Boxtrolls. The story looked interesting and the previews said it was from the creators of Coraline and ParaNorman, both of which had really great stories, fascinating characters, and were wonderful works of art. The Boxtrolls was no different.
“Quirky, mischievous and good-hearted, these box-wearing creatures have lovingly raised a human boy named “Eggs” in a charming cavern below the bustling streets of Cheesebridge. But when evil Archibald Snatcher decides to capture the lovable misfits, it’s up to Eggs and his feisty young friend, Winnie, to save the Boxtrolls.”
My first thought when this movie started was that it certainly wasn’t a happy, fluffy Disney movie. The movie starts with what appears to be the abduction of a young boy by the Boxtrolls while a human chases them. For all that this is supposed to be marketed as a children’s movie, it was very dark with some very deep philosophical concepts. Naturally, that means that this movie is positively fantastic and I enjoyed it greatly.
I didn’t quite grasp the character names as quickly as I might have, but when it finally clicked and I realized that whatever was sold on the front of the box was the name of the boxtroll, I thought it was both remarkably clever and cute and I started paying more attention to the designs on the front of each troll’s box and guessing their name. Unfortunately, but humorously, I’m not very good at naming things, so I thought “Shoes” was going to be “Broken Stilettos” or something like that, which amused me greatly. When I watch this movie again, which will hopefully be soon, I’m going to pay very close attention to the boxes and to their names because I think it will entertain me greatly.
What I really liked about the Boxtrolls is the storytelling. I didn’t know why the Boxtrolls appeared to be stealing a human boy, but I automatically got the sense that Snatch wasn’t a very good person. The movie never has to sit down and explain to you that the Boxtrolls love Eggs very, very much. You’re shown this in undeniable ways. Fish and Eggs spend time making random music together, by doing such things as breaking light bulbs or using saws. Eggs played with Shoes by throwing bugs at each other. Fish looks specifically for things to bring back to Eggs for them to use in their musical endeavors. The movie also makes it perfectly clear that the Boxtrolls aren’t evil creatures at all – they’re inventors and fixers. They like to create things and fix things. I think they’re rather cute.
One of the concepts that really stuck with me about this movie was something along the lines of how society can put pressure on the silliest things and make those things seem desirable, even though it’s terribly unhealthy. Snatch really wants a white hat because it’s a symbol of status, wealth, prestige, and would encourage the people of Cheesebridge to look up to him, as they do the rest of the white hats. I’m not actually sure that the people of Cheesebridge really do look up to the white hats, as I don’t see them getting any special treatment from the rest of the city. It’s entirely possible, and quite likely in my mind, that the average people in Cheesebridge don’t really care about the white hats or what they do, but that the white hats have separated themselves and are rather pretentious. You see this in the way that Winnie is treated by her father. He pays more attention to his white hat boys cheese club than he does to her. This creates a series of situations where we see what kind of absent father he is to Minnie and how many societal concerns are represented in this manner. I mean, he decides to use all the extra money from Cheesebridge to make the biggest wheel of cheese ever seen instead of creating a school for orphaned children. This mirrors our own modern society so well that I don’t really even want to talk about it.
The most unhealthy of all of this is that Snatch has a serious and life-threatening allergy to cheese. He can’t be completely oblivious to this, but he certainly seems to push the knowledge to the back of his mind as much as possible. He wants to be a white hat so he can go into the back room and taste the new cheeses with the other prestigious white hats, but I honestly think it’s the social interaction that he’s looking for, and not so much the cheese tasting. If I were to mirror this to society, as well, I would say that society is training us and mind washing us to desperately crave things that are unhealthy for us, and leads us to lifestyle choices where we wind up harming others.
I did mention that this movie was surprisingly deep, yes?
Overall, I think I’ll rate this movie as a solid four on my rating scale. I’m glad I purchased it, I’m positive I will watch it repeatedly, it made me laugh extensively multiple times, and it also made me really take a deep, philosophical look at some of the things we take for granted in our lives. It’s a great story with fascinating characters and the artistic talent required to make a movie like this staggers me.