'The Boxtrolls': What are critics saying about the animated film?

'The Boxtrolls' features the voice work of actors Isaac Hempstead-Wright, Elle Fanning, and Ben Kingsley.

Focus Features/AP
'The Boxtrolls' stars Isaac Hempstead-Wright and Elle Fanning.

The new animated movie "The Boxtrolls" hits theaters tomorrow, and so far it's getting mixed reviews for its story about a boy raised by mysterious otherworldly creatures.

"The Boxtrolls" was made by the animation studio Laika, which was also behind the 2009 movie "Coraline" and the 2012 movie "ParaNorman." The protagonist of "Boxtrolls" is a boy named Eggs ("Game of Thrones" actor Isaac Hempstead-Wright) who was brought up by the titular Boxtrolls, who live underground. The humans who live above them view Boxtrolls as the enemy, and an exterminator, Archibald Snatcher (Ben Kingsley), is trying to stamp out the Boxtrolls.

The movie currently holds a so-so score of 60 on the review aggregator website Metacritic. USA Today writer Brian Truitt was one critic who was more won over, giving it three stars out of four. 

“The latest stop-motion effort from the acclaimed studio Laika is a delectable treat that balances themes of identity and class warfare with Monty Python-style political skewering, quirky humor and dairy jokes,” he wrote. “The Boxtrolls isn't quite as memorable as Laika's Oscar-nominated movies – the 2009 fantasy Coraline and the 2012 kid-horror flick ParaNorman. But it shares those films' subversive qualities as well as a stunning animation style, with highly detailed puppets and a painstaking process.”

However, Variety critic Peter Debruge wrote that the movie “squanders Laika's considerable artistic talent on an unappealing concept and screenplay.” 

“These drab, cardboard-clad critters are about as compelling as a bunch of pet rocks,” Debruge wrote of the Boxtrolls. “Repeating a lot of the same beats from the studio’s first two stop-motion adventures, 'Coraline' and 'ParaNorman' … Laika’s disappointing latest represents a baffling misappropriation of talent. Hundreds of gifted artists have poured untold hours into bringing to life this relentlessly unappealing script.”

Alonso Duralde of TheWrap also disliked the film.

Even by the standards of kids’ movies about genocide and the frequent uselessness of fathers, 'The Boxtrolls' isn't very much fun at all,” he wrote. “A surprisingly charmless and aimless movie from Laika Studios, the upstart stop-motion artists who previously crafted the wonderfully dark 'Coraline' and 'Paranorman,' this latest venture seems destined to disturb young viewers while thoroughly boring their parents.”

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