I remember going to see Coraline and being amazed by what's now universally accepted as one of the great stop motion movies. It was a breathtaking experience and I couldn't wait to tell everyone I knew about it.
Here we are, several years (and ParaNorman) later, and Laika Entertainment are back with another adaptation of a book, this time Alan Snow's Here Be Monsters! I went to the screening in an expectant mood and I wasn't disappointed. The BoxTrolls is a joy from start to finish, and may even make kids think about stereotypes, prejudice and scaremongering. This is what Chuck D from rap veterans Public Enemy would call 'edutainment'.
The story's set in Cheesebridge, a town obsessed with wealth, class divides and the enjoyment of fine cheese - but at its core there's a fear that haunts the populace. Beneath the town's cobblestone streets live the Boxtrolls. It's a common belief that these are foul monsters who crawl out of the sewers at night to steal children and their cheeses. The reality is radically different.
These creatures are, in fact, an underground cavern-dwelling band of oddballs who collect anything mechanical and wear recycled cardboard boxes like protective shells. They've raised a human boy as one of their own and when the Boxtrolls are targeted by a nasty, social-climbing exterminator, the adventure really kicks off.
This is the kind of film that almost defines the 'for all ages' category. Go on your own, bring a friend, your loved one, kids, parents, neighbours – you name it. I defy anyone not to enjoy this beautifully-crafted film. It's as joyous as Coraline was scary. And both are minor masterpieces. Hats off to all involved.
Along with The Lego Movie and How To Train Your Dragon 2, The Boxtrolls makes 2014 a great year for family film.