The Boxtrolls ***Dirs: Graham Annable, Anthony Stacchi. With the voices of: Ben Kingsley, Nick Frost, Elle Fanning, Jared Harris. 97 mins. Cert: PG
Typical: the kids return to school, and we finally get one of this summer’s few animations to merit sustained study. This lovingly detailed adaptation of Alan Snow’s Here Be Monsters introduces us to a junk-loving species – part Womble, part Morlock – who reside in one cobbled town’s sewers, demonised by cheese-fattened bigwigs, until a human defection to the Boxtroll ranks overturns all previous certainties. Like Laika Studios’ previous Coraline and Paranorman, it’s a parable of difference: that the anti-Boxtroll rhetoric includes the phrase “rivers of blood” is surely no coincidence, while sharp-thumbed character design provides its own persuasive counterargument for idiosyncrasy. Unarguably PG, it’ll be too intense for very young viewers, but its conspicuous filth – bugs and bric-a-brac below ground, pustulence and privates-scratching above it – will likely enthral older, muckier pups; set it against the shiny blandishments that have passed for family fun this season, and it starts to look vaguely radical.
The Boxtrolls opens at cinemas nationwide today.