The adorably addictive teaser for the latest 3D animated film from Poland-based Laika Studios The Boxtrolls also carries a subtle message about what makes a family. "Sometimes there's a mother," the British-inflected narrator explains. "Sometimes there's a father. Sometimes there's a father and a father. Sometimes both fathers are mothers."
The cutest bit (other than the little boy and the box-shaped monsters?) is the final zinger: "Families come in all shapes and sizes. Even rectangles."
It should be noted that last year's surprise hit ParaNorman (co-directed by out director Chris Butler) was also celebrated for its positive messages against bullying and including a gay lead character, the lunkhead jock Mitch (voiced by Casey Affleck), who surprised audiences in the final minutes by telling the cheerleader who had a crush on him, "You're gonna love my boyfriend. He's, like, a total chick-flick nut!"
Travis Knight, the president and CEO of Laika, told The Hollywood Reporter: "We're not in any way trying to be activists. 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." He and his wife had just had their third child, a son, only the day before.
While it would be misleading to state that the trailer features same-sex parents, it does raise the question: What makes a family? And, as Knight explained: "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 Ph.D. to recognize that of course there are metaphoric elements to the message in our movie."