The Boxtrolls is a basic though timely fable for children, told with sufficient artistry that it might appeal to maturer audiences also. If that's an average description of an average-sounding movie, fair enough - The Boxtrolls is a fairly average movie indeed, but it's the artistic qualities and the refusal never to allow the more prosaic elements to sink the film below average that make it so very watchable. Even the most active, intelligent minds need time to unwind and appreciate something simple but not simplistic (not that I'd know), and one could do far worse than The Boxtrolls. Its thematic content is of particular note - it's commonplace for animated films to come laden with moral messages, even if the smaller studios have lately acknowledged the commercial inviability of being too heavy-handed with these, but The Boxtrolls' are genuinely pertinent, alongside being neatly integrated into the story. Its theories on the nature of family are accessible to all who'll encounter them here. That's a side order of moralising to compliment the main dish, as is ever the case with LAIKA Animation, of stylistic wonder. Rich set design rooted in reality is replete with decorative flourishes that give the film a feeling of authenticity that most animators can only dream of; no doubt the team behind this work were aided by the project's physical identity as a stop-motion piece. All this, and a generous dressing of structural mediocrity - my heart was with The Boxtrolls throughout, and my senses were never less than delighted, but my brain began to switch off as rudimentary plotting and action sequences pandered to viewers with tastes that seemed contrary to those of this film's target demographic. No amount of good filmmaking can override such disappointing faults, but they can certainly distract from them. So, The Boxtrolls is distracting, watchable and, alas, average. As I wrote before, one could do far worse.