The Boxtrolls review – splendidly inventive children’s animation

Laika studio’s adaptation of Alan Snow’s Here Be Monsters is deliciously scrungy, with dazzling visuals

The latest from ace stop-motion studio Laika (Coraline, ParaNorman) is a deliciously scrungy adaptation of Alan Snow’s Here Be Monsters!, replete with the kind of pustulent facial contortions from which most kids’ movies would run screaming. In the Victorian-era town of Cheesebridge, monster-catcher Archibald Snatcher (brilliantly voiced by Ben Kingsley) keeps the locals safe from child-stealing Boxtrolls in return for the promise of a coveted White Hat. Archibald wants to hobnob with the brie-eating great and good, but an allergy to cheese means his social climbing brings him out in hives... and worse.

Meanwhile the trolls attempt to live peaceful lives, raising Eggs (Isaac Hempstead Wright), a young human changeling, as one of their own beneath the city streets. Splendidly inventive and outrageously squishy, Boxtrolls features more than enough carnivalesque weirdness (the sight of a cheese-inflamed Archibald is beyond monstrous) to give the faint-hearted the collywobbles. Good for it! The visuals are dazzling, the voices expressive, and the end-credits sequence offers a laugh-out-loud appraisal of the madness of the animators’ labour-intensive craft.

Contributor

Mark Kermode, Observer film critic

The GuardianTramp

Related Content

Article image
The Boxtrolls review – one of the summer’s best animations
This tale of a junk-loving species living in a cobbled town’s sewers will enthral mucky pups with its conspicuous filth, writes Mike McCahill

Mike McCahill

11, Sep, 2014 @8:45 PM

Article image
The Little Vampire review – adequately undead animation
Its message of tolerance lacks teeth, but there are laughs enough to compensate in this remake of the 2000 live action film

Simran Hans

27, May, 2018 @7:00 AM

Article image
Wolfwalkers review – an exquisite Irish animation masterpiece
This dazzling 17th-century folk tale is a total joy

Wendy Ide

31, Oct, 2020 @3:00 PM

Article image
The Book of Life review – vibrantly alternative animation
Guillermo del Toro’s creative fingerprints are everywhere in this refreshingly sparky and laugh-out-loud funny family film, writes Mark Kermode

Mark Kermode, Observer film critic

25, Oct, 2014 @11:05 PM

Article image
Moomins on the Riviera review – gentle, old-fashioned animation
There are some sharp gags amid the pastel hues, as Tove Jansson’s beloved Moomins head for the Côte d’Azur

Mark Kermode, Observer film critic

24, May, 2015 @6:59 AM

Article image
Raya and the Last Dragon review – dazzling Disney animation
A sword-wielding princess is tasked with uniting a divided kingdom in a buoyant tale starring Awkwafina’s goofy dragon

Simran Hans

07, Mar, 2021 @11:00 AM

Article image
Song of the Sea review – a wonderful family animation, rich in Irish folklore
A gorgeous, almost painterly tale of two siblings trying to reach home, but waylaid by witches, owls and faeries

Mark Kermode

12, Jul, 2015 @7:00 AM

Article image
DVDs and downloads: The Boxtrolls, The Equalizer, Concerning Violence, The Circle | Film | The Observer
Boxtrolls creates a grownup world for children. Others, alas, plump for the opposite, writes Guy Lodge

Guy Lodge

25, Jan, 2015 @7:59 AM

Article image
Arrietty – review

The Borrowers turn Japanese as the children's classic is lovingly reworked by the studio that gave us Spirited Away, writes Philip French

Philip French

30, Jul, 2011 @11:05 PM

Article image
Rango – review
This cartoon western is sophisticated enough to keep the adults laughing, says Philip French

Philip French

06, Mar, 2011 @12:11 AM