In KUBO AND THE TWO STRINGS (2016), a stop-motion animation movie, a boy named Kubo must find the pieces of a magical suit of armor that will help him defeat his grandfather. The result is a movie marked by strong characters and story, beautiful visuals, and a terrific emotional punch–as enchanting for adults as kids, its target market.
The film begins with Kubo living in a cave with his ill mother. Each day, he goes into a nearby village to tell stories, magically animating origami to act out the story using music played on his shamisen, a three-string instrument similar to a guitar. His mother, who is slowly losing her memory, warns him to never go outside at night, or her sisters and father will come for him. When he does–attending a ceremony where villagers talk to the dead, hoping to talk to his father but failing to do so–he ends up staying out after dark. The sisters come, propelling him on a journey to find the pieces of a suit of magic armor that will protect him. Along the way, he is aided by Monkey, a magical snow monkey, and Beetle, an amnesiac samurai cursed to take the form of a bug. In the end, it may take more than magic to save him.
The film worked for me on almost every level, providing a story was both epic and stirring.