When I go to see a Laika film, I’m most excited for its’ story. Laika films fall into the fantasy genre, then branching off into comedy and/or horror. They focus on a young protagonist who must solve both internal and external conflicts.
Viewers might conclude that Laika films are dark in tone, but a more fitting word would be mature. I think many parents still believe that if a film is animated it’s for all ages, yet that isn’t always the case. All Laika’s films are rated PG for a reason, and I’m not talking about Disney’s version of PG. The intense action scenes, harsh characters, unflinching moments are what drive the plot.
Laika films also, for the most part, take out all those clichés and story beats you’ve seen millions of times, in millions of movies. When someone dies, you feel the weight of what has just happened and how it affects the characters.
When the protagonist reaches their lowest point, you’re invested because you want to know how they’ll overcome the conflict. Of course, other animated films have these plot points; however, they’re overused and never have time to really sink in for the audience to feel the gravity of the situation. And by veering from typical plot clichés, you never know what’s going to happen within the story.
Unlike the typical movies geared towards children, Laika delivers extraordinary stories waved with strong messages. They make us think about what happens to our loved ones when they die, how our choices affect those around us, or being inclusive instead of letting difference separate us. Although the characters are just puppets and models, the script manages them to feel alive.
In a film industry that’s saturated with remakes, I appreciate Laika for taking a risk by creating new material. While Coraline and The Boxtrolls are based on pre-existing works, ParaNorman and Kubo and the Two Strings are original stories. Risks don’t always pay off, but in terms of story, Laika succeeds.
But what’s a great script without the animation to execute it? I’ll talk about that in part 3.
Should films targeted at young audiences be rated PG? Comment below and let me know!