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He Said, She Said Review Site

The Boxtrolls

What She said:


I often find animated movie faire to be a bit hit or miss, largely due to the fact that it is usually catered to smaller children and does not resonate with adults like me. However, I do think it’s possible for a movie to balance the tastes and expectations of both young and old, and some of the finest animated films of memory (e.g., The Lion King, Toy Story, Up) shine so brightly because they are able to do so. Anyway, I’m always a little hesitant to rent a cartoon movie because I wonder what hand I’ll be dealt. Will the result be manic and filled with poop humor, or will it be smart, witty, and memorable?


The Boxtrolls is definitely catered more toward adults and older teenagers. It tells the story of these little critters called boxtrolls that live underground and come out at night. The boxtrolls are petty thieves, rummaging through people’s trash and essentially stealing anything made of metal that is not tied down. They’re also gifted builders, which is why they’re attracted to metal.  They’ve created an underground community that is extremely complex. The boxtrolls also have a human boy, named Eggs, living among them. They acquired the child when he was just a baby, and have raised him up to become a preteen.

But the boxtrolls are hated by those who live above ground in the storied town of Cheesebridge. The town had taken exception to having their things stolen, and after the disappearance of the Trubshaw Baby, they agreed to have Archibald Snatcher serve as boxtroll exterminator, attempting to wipe out the pests. Archibald has his own motivation for eliminating the boxtrolls. He’s made an agreement with Lord Portley-Rind, a mover and shaker in town and the leader of the White Hats. If he’s able to get rid of all the boxtrolls, he will be welcomed into the White Hats. Now, you’re probably wonder who the heck are the White Hats and why should we care? Well, they are a group of men who get to wear super fancy white hats and spend their days sitting around in an exclusive tasting room sampling different cheeses. And cheese is a really, REALLY big deal in Cheesebridge.


Archibald Snatcher goes about collecting his boxtrolls, and with little ramification, until one day he collects Eggs’ father, Fish. Eggs will not have it, and so he decides to try to get back Fish. Eggs travels above ground during daylight for the very first time, and realizes that he looks a lot more like humans than he does boxtrolls. He also meets Winnie Portley-Rind, a girl about his age who also happens to be Lord Portley-Rind’s daughter. Winnie is headstrong and spoiled, but also kind-hearted. She has a fascination with the boxtrolls and thusly, takes a liking to Eggs. Eggs and Winnie team up to try to save the boxtrolls and take down the evil Archibald Snatcher.

This movie teaches us that you cannot judge a book by its over.  The entire town hates the boxtrolls, but it’s all misconceptions. Eggs is the only human who truly understands them, and that’s because he more closely relates to the boxtrolls than he does his own kind. So there’s a lot of lesson-learning with this film. You must not judge a book by its cover, and you must be accepting of all of God’s creatures.

Beyond that, this film tries to be a funny cartoon action film. And it is quite successful in that realm. It does have several laugh-out-loud moments, and edge-of-your-seat action. However, the plot is a little thin and I think the general feel of the movie is weird. It’s enjoyable, for sure, but some of the themes and humor push the envelope a little too much for an animated film. A villain who also dresses in drag—that’s just a little too much and detracts from what the larger story is here, and that’s a boy who is discovering who he really is and the definitions of family.


I think that the heavy and very serious lessons that we learn in The Boxtrolls can easily become overshadowed by the goofy and awkward characters. It’s a delicate balance that you need to strike with this kind of movie, and in that sense this film doesn’t quite hit the mark. I’m not kidding when I say that this movie is actually quite weird. Not in an entirely unpleasant way, but just in a slightly unnerving way.

Visually, it’s a masterpiece. Very colorful, lush, and crisp. The animation is memorable and absolutely decadent. It’s a marvel to behold both the above-ground and below-ground worlds. The technical production of the film is splendid.

The film features several prominent actors voicing its characters. Namely, we have Ben Kingsley, Toni Collette, Elle Fanning, Isaac Hempstead-Wright, Tracy Morgan, Nick Frost, and Simon Pegg all lending their talents. That said, you probably won’t really recognize them too much. In fact, I had a hard time placing any of them. That’s not really a bad thing. This is a movie that doesn’t thrive on its star power. Instead, it focuses on satisfying our hunger through its visuals and story.

I do feel like there were some misses with the story and the characters, but overall, I still enjoyed this film. It’s pretty fun, and easy to watch.

Thumbs 75 percent up.

What He said:


The year is 1805 and the town of Cheesebridge has a problem. That problem is an infestation of boxtrolls. Well, at least rumors of boxtrolls, according to exterminator Archibald Snatcher.

Snatcher (Ben Kingsley) strikes a deal with the mayor, Lord Portley-Rind. You see, Snatcher wants to be a part of the in crowd and Lord Portley-Rind is not just the mayor, he’s the head of the town’s elite. He is a member of the White Hat Council, which is a group of men that gather, talk about town issues, and eat cheese (the town is called Cheesebridge after all). That’s right, he just wants a white hat and to eat cheese, but with the town elite. He wants to be somebody.


Snatcher and his henchmen, Mr. Trout, Mr. Pickles, and Mrs. Gristle, spread tales of boxtrolls rooting through garbage, snatch children, and supposedly even eat them. They embark on the mission of catching all of the boxtrolls, so that Snatcher can get his white hat and eat cheese with the town’s elite.

Switching things up a big, we find ourselves in the home of the boxtrolls, which is under town in the sewers. A couple of things don't add up from Snatcher is telling the towns folk.

First of all, there is a boy living with them. He is known as Eggs and lives amongst the boxtrolls. They haven’t eaten him and is an equal among them. A troll named Fish has adopted him.

It turns out that the trolls are peaceful creatures. They do steal garbage, which they use to build their underground world, but they don’t hurt anyone and are actually quite timid. They are quirky, funny, and even kind of cute in an ugly way.

As time goes on, Snatcher abducts a number of the boxtrolls, including Fish. This is the final straw for Eggs (Isaac Hempstead-Wright) and he decides to do the exact opposite of what he was raised to believe. He sneaks up to the above world and tries to find out what Snatcher is doing with Eggs and the rest of the boxtrolls he’s taken.

While up in Cheesebridge, he meets an inquisitive girl named Winnie. Winnie (Elle Fanning) is actually the daughter of Lord Portley-Rind. Like the rest of the residents of Cheesebridge, she believes the boxtrolls are evil little creatures who steal things and eat children. She gets to know Eggs and realizes that he’s been living with the boxtrolls and the stories about them are untrue. The two of them embark on an adventure to find out what it is Snatcher is really doing with the boxtrolls and why he’s lying about their reputation.


I thought the movie started out a little slow. There were a few jokes early on that flopped for me. They were sort of predictable. They might make a kid laugh, but I did not. I thought I was in for a long ride.

However, that didn’t last long. This movie started to make me chuckle and by the end of it I was laughing quite a bit and hard too. The boxtrolls themselves were pretty damn funny. They are so quirky and amusing. They are called boxtrolls because they wear boxes. The boxes are their clothes and shelter. They are similar to hermit crabs in that sense. Oh, and their names are whatever is on the front of the box. Eggs and Fish are named Eggs and Fish, because that’s what on the front of the boxes they wear. It’s pretty funny.

Eggs was raised to believe he was a boxtroll and for all intents and purposes he believes that. He knows that he looks a little different, can’t disappear into his box as easily as the rest of the boxtrolls, and speaks a different language (English), despite understanding their gibberish. There is a lot of fish out of water type of humor going on and some of it is really funny, especially when Winnie brings Eggs to her father’s party to explain that Snatcher is not who he says that he is.

Speaking of Winnie’s father, he’s weird. The guy and his friends are a little too into cheese. It’s weird, but also pretty funny.

It’s a weird movie in general to be honest. There are some things that happen that wouldn’t have been the first choice I would have made as the writer. That doesn’t mean they were funny though. It was unexpected, but worked most of the time. The movie was definitely a little strange, but I also found it to be funny for the most part. This is definitely something parents can watch with their kids.

I also liked the visuals quite a bit. There are some great looking computer animated movies out there, but I’m also a little worn out on that style. I would like more variety. I miss hand-drawn animation a lot. So, it was nice to see something visually different and pleasing. The stop-motion work in this is solid.

Rating: Thumbs up.

This movie review was written for your reading pleasure on January 31, 2015.