Director: Graham Annable, Anthony Stacchi
Writer: Irena Brignull, Adam Pava
Based on: Alan Snow‘s novel Here Be Monsters!
Cast: Isaac Hempstead Wright, Elle Fanning, Ben Kingsley, Jared Harris, Nick Frost, Richard Ayoade, Tracy Morgan, Toni Collette, Simon Pegg
Cheesebridge is a town plagued by Boxtrolls who are said to eat children and generally to be despicable. Led by Archibald Snatcher (Ben Kingsley), Cheesebridge is on the hunt to find every last one of them. But Eggs (Isaac Hempstead Wright) has a different story to tell. When he was a little boy, the Boxtrolls took him in and raised him as one of their own. But now their community is shrinking everyday and Eggs knows that it is up to him to do something against it.
The Boxtrolls was an amazingly cute film that was extremely entertaining. Not everything about it was perfect, but I enjoyed it.
From the get-go, it was pretty clear where the film was headed (at least for an adult. For kids it might be another story) and there generally were many familiar parts to the story, from the philosophizing henchmen to Eggs’ parents’ story. [It surprised me once when one of the henchmen did not turn out to be an unboxed boxtroll.] But the way it is done in this film is so charming that you don’t really mind that it is a little clichéd. Plus, there is so much creativity in the world-building and the character design (and generally the production design) that it feels pretty fresh anyway.
What I did mind, though, was Snatcher’s crossdressing. It smacked of transphobia, especially since it doesn’t become clear whether Snatcher just uses it as a disguise (which would reinforce the “transpeople are deceptive pretenders” stereotype), whether he’s a transvestite (in which case it would just be way too gimmicky to be respectful) or whether he’s actually transgender/genderfluid (in which case one could sigh that the only non-cis person is the big bad and hope for better representation next time). Mostly it just felt like one big joke – look at the guy pretending to be a woman. Hardeehar.
Fortunately, that was a rather small part of the entire film which meant that I could still enjoy it altogether. And there was a lot to enjoy. From Winnnie (Elle Fanning) who refused to fit both the tomboy-box and the spoiled rich girl-box [no pun intended] to Cheesebridge’ political system [I might have to check out the book just in the hope of getting more information about that world].
The movie has its heart in the right place, looks wonderful and it knows how to keep the audience interested. If that’s not satisfying, I don’t know what is.