It's still more than a year away from the big screen, but The Boxtrolls, the third stop-motion feature from Hillsboro animation house Laika, has already ignited a small media storm everywhere from CNN to MTV. Based on the children's novel Here Be Monsters by Alan Snow, the movie’s first trailer depicts a Victorian era toddler being tossed between changing family formations.
"Sometimes there's a mother. Sometimes there's a father," the British narrator says, as the parents change with each permutation. "Sometimes there's a father and a father. Sometimes both fathers are mothers."
As the boxtrolls spirit the boy into the sewer, he concludes: "families come in all shapes and sizes—even rectangles."
"We’re not in any way trying to be activists," Travis Knight, the president and CEO of Laika, told The Hollywood Reporter. "We’re just trying to be who we are. 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."
Fortuitously premiering the same week as the repeal of DOMA, The Boxtrolls' trailer is not the first time Laika has pushed the boundaries of animated features with positive portrayals of gay characters. Last year's ParaNorman included an unabashedly gay teenage football captain. Indeed, all of Laika’s films feature child protagonists thrust into perilous otherworldly situations where they don’t fit in but where they succeed nonetheless. Perhaps there’s a larger metaphor...