Last month I traveled to Los Angeles for LAIKA's new animated film KUBO and the Two Strings' press junket. I was doubly excited to see this film as LAIKA is located right down the street in my own town outside of Portland, Oregon! I have adored their previous films like ParaNorman, The Boxtrolls, and Coraline.
LAIKA itself is an amazing animation studio that creates, edits, slices, dices, synthesizes, and vaporizes (this is from Oregon, right?) all its stuff through its own amazing visual effects (VFX) department. (Read about our LAIKA studio visit here.) Its films are to date all original stories. I so loved spending a fun time wondering what was going to happen next while not already laying around with the corresponding blanket and stuffed toy watching my kid rip around in themed Kubo underoos—not yet, anyway. Kudos (or should it be Kubos?) to an original and amazing story.
Kubo does not disappoint. It's a story about a young boy, Kubo (Art Parkinson), with magical and awesomely enough musical powers who is sent on a quest by his mother to solve the mystery of his fallen father and his own mysterious past. He is joined by Monkey (Charlize Theron) and Beetle (Matthew McConaughey) who march forward with Kubo as they face their own challenges, all the while having a grand time in the gorgeous movie world LAIKA paints.
The movie is a lush and beautiful feast for the senses. The colors and music are stunning; the background art distinct and fresh compared to some of the animation offerings of others in recent memory. LAIKA reminds me of a young artist with something to prove who has not sold its soul to the toy companies and marketing tie-ins just yet. And without giving away the newness of it, this movie might spawn a generation of guitar players the likes of which have not been seen since Guitar Hero came out. Did I mention the music was great?
The main characters and sets are all stop-motion animation. So many times I really wanted to just pause or rewind the movie to admire the way it would make Kubo's robes flow so seamlessly or to revisit how Monkey's fur ruffled so purrfectly. The plot, while sophisticated for both children and adults, was done in a way to bring me into the story rather than repel me away. And although my 6-year-old covered his eyes a couple of times when the action was intense, by the next day, he was Kubo'ing away all of his perceived enemies (such as his dog and both of the cats and Daddy) with the ease of a mighty warrior. The past few days have been full of him asking to learn origami, and I am pretty sure I heard him mention something about a Sword Unbreakable and some other notable quotables from the movie. Even my husband, a great guitar warrior of times past in his own right, admired the concept of the two strings.
I loved it and you will too, so go now and support this studio! It's truly about the story and the art in this one. LAIKA is doing great things. Keep it up.
Kubo and the Two Strings is now playing in theaters everywhere.
Thank you to Focus Features for bringing us to LA for an all-expenses-paid trip to attend the press junket.