It's very seldom you see a film go out of its way to make so many of its characters visually unappealing and still have them command themselves with an unmistakable air of charisma. Even though the characters lovingly display each little greasy hair or smear of dirt, there are many of them you could stand to hug- even if you can almost smell the cheese on them.
Our story takes place in a town called Cheeseridge, a little dairy-centric town that's full of delicious puns and scary looking monsters called Boxtrolls. The boxtrolls live in a commune underground and come out at night to scavenge for trash and spare parts, which they use to create beautiful inventions of their own. The town is disgusted by them and fears them, despite their harmless, bug-eating nature.
Our main character is a filthy little orphaned child who is raised by the Boxtrolls, and the story follows his quest to clear their reputation before the town's exterminators polish the last of them off.
It's got more than a few succinct criticisms of how politics in general operate, and also more than a few Monty Python references. Although clearly revelling in its own grotesquery, the movie is never really too graphic or gratuitously gross where it doesn't need to be. It's a sort of sophisticated grossness that goes exactly as far as it needs to go. One notable distinction I can give to the movie: It has a running gag about lactose intolerance that doesn't include a SINGLE fart joke. Granted, the characters in the movie already look like they smell bad enough, but I did leave the theater thinking what a marvel it was that despite having characters that live in a sewer, it didn't ever resort to "toilet humor."
Because even though the story is simple and the dark, macabre appeal is there, it's got a good brain and a good heart. Even visually appealing characters like the female lead have their own dark side, and she gleefully talks about rivers of blood and exploded guts in her cute little pink victorian dress.
I liked the film enough that I'm tempted to go watch it twice. It's very Roald Dahl in tone and very 'Stinky Cheese Man' in aesthetic, and very Monty Python in humor- and very, very fun to watch.