Thursday, July 4, 2013

Trailer: Laika's "The Boxtrolls" (I'm In Love!)

 I'm a little reserved when it comes to seeing new trailers these days but oh-golly-glory I adore this one!

The Boxtrolls is based on the book "Here Be Monsters" and while it's not a fairy tale per say it does have magic, trolls and a child brought up by a non-human family (aka The Graveyard Book, aka The Jungle Book) so I have no doubt this will up the magical alley of many fairy tale folks.

I like to think of these stories as "changelings of another kind" in that the orphan can be brought up by wolves, fairies, monsters or ghosts but at the heart of it they still have family - albeit a weird one - they still need to grow into their independence, just like regular children do, and there's usually a change in perspective from that which we'd normally take for granted.

Before I say any more, just watch the beautifully done gem-of-awesome here and then I'll tell you a bit more about the film (And see? I like adorable if it's done well!):

Here's where I should point out the one thing that will be in the news, since this is the lens through which a lot of the media will be presenting this. The trailer, as you just saw, opens with a presentation of a variety of family types, something the press has jumped on, as, as the narrator says: "Sometimes there is a mother, sometimes there is a father, sometimes there are two fathers..." The press reaction has been along the lines of: OMG LAIKA IS PRO-GAY! 

It helps, of course, that this issue is very present in the minds of Americans in particular, with one of the most eventful weeks in gay rights history - and in the ongoing fight for equality - as both DOMA and Prop 8 were struck down by the U.S. Supreme Court.

But Travis Knight (President & CEO of Laika) has downplayed this, saying:
"We’re not in any way trying to be activists. We’re just trying to be who we are," Knight tells The Hollywood Reporter not 24 hours after he and his wife welcomed their third child, a boy, into the world. "All art and all artists have a point of view, a way of looking at the world. We want to make films that are bold and distinctive and enduring and actually have something meaningful to say." 
In other words, they're simply acknowledging there are many kinds of family units - that is all. As the narrator says:  "Families come in all shapes and sizes. Even rectangles." 
The Laika chief, son of Nike founder Phil Knight, acknowledges that the movies he wants to make -- hugely time-consuming projects that marry stop-motion and CG techniques -- carry with them the risk of alienating wide swaths of the moviegoing public. 
"There are going to be people who simply don’t agree with that and we understand, but we also won’t flinch from the consequences of that," he says.

For Travis Knight... finding stories that send kids the right kinds of messages -- and not necessarily the safest ones -- is a top priority. 
"The kinds of films we make have to be consistent with our values and how we look at the world and sometimes that means putting yourselves out there a little bit."
He added, "The Boxtrolls are a very loving community that have been marginalized by the lies and distortions of others... It doesn’t take someone who's got a PhD to recognize that of course there are metaphoric elements to the message in our movie."
And let me just add, there are MANY reasons kids - and families - are marginalized - in MANY different ways. This movie is for all of them - us - AS WELL. (I like this movie even more now!)

And now the sensational part is out of the way, let's get to the good stuff, which will speak for itself, in many different ways, to different people: the story!

From the official Laika website:

The Boxtrolls is a 3D stop-motion and CG hybrid animated feature based on Alan Snow’s bestselling fantasy adventure novel Here Be Monsters. 
(It's) a comedic fable that unfolds in Cheesebridge, a posh Victorian-era town obsessed with wealth, class, and the stinkiest of fine cheeses. Beneath its charming cobblestone streets dwell the Boxtrolls, foul monsters who crawl out of the sewers at night and steal what the townspeople hold most dear: their children and their cheeses. At least, that’s the legend residents have always believed. In truth, the Boxtrolls are an underground cavern-dwelling community of quirky and lovable oddballs who wear recycled cardboard boxes the way turtles wear their shells. The Boxtrolls have raised an orphaned human boy, Eggs (voiced by Mr. Hempstead-Wright), since infancy as one of their dumpster-diving and mechanical junk-collecting own. When the Boxtrolls are targeted by villainous pest exterminator Archibald Snatcher (Mr. Kingsley), who is bent on eradicating them as his ticket to Cheesebridge society, the kindhearted band of tinkerers must turn to their adopted charge and adventurous rich girl Winnie (Ms. Fanning) to bridge two worlds amidst the winds of change – and cheese. 
Mr. Knight said, “The Boxtrolls is a visually dazzling mash-up of gripping detective story, absurdist comedy, and steampunk adventure with a surprisingly wholesome heart. It’s Dickens by way of Monty Python. Tony and Graham have crafted a strange and beautiful world replete with fantastical creatures, good-for-nothing reprobates, madcap antics, and rip-roaring feats of derring-do. But at its core, like all LAIKA films, The Boxtrolls is a moving and human story with timelessness and powerful emotional resonance. We’re thrilled to partner with Focus Features and Universal to bring this remarkable story to family audiences around the world.”
And now I want to go find some Boxtrolls and hug them! (The right kind of hug is worth a little stink sometimes, don't you think?)
The Boxtrolls is set to release in September 26, 2014.

Additional sources: Huffington Post, The Hollywood Reporter 

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