While we can choose a lot of things in life, family isn't usually one of them.
"The Boxtrolls," the latest stop-motion animated film from Focus Features and Laika Films ("Coraline," "ParaNorman"), is all about family, particularly the unconventional kind.
Living underground, beneath the cobblestone streets of the fictional Victorian-era town of Cheesebridge, the monstrous Boxtrolls come out only at night to perform dastardly deeds such as stealing the town's children as well as its precious cheeses. That is, according to legend.
In reality, the wacky and creative creatures who wear boxes like turtle shells are harmless and seek out discarded items to transform into wild inventions. Almost nothing is turned away — including an orphaned human boy (voiced by Isaac Hempstead-Wright) whom they name Eggs.
When the Boxtrolls are threatened by a determined exterminator (Ben Kingsley), they must send Eggs above ground so he can convince the snobbish humans that they can live together peacefully. Added to the mix is the precocious and wealthy Winnie (Elle Fanning), who teams with Eggs to help him protect his adoptive family.
"No more hiding, right?" Eggs asks his surrogate father, Fish (Dee Baker), who's prone to scurrying away from danger.
And in the process of standing up for the only family he's ever known, Eggs discovers his own bravery within.
"Don't be afraid anymore," he says.
"The Boxtrolls," directed by Anthony Stacchi and Graham Annable