In the new trailer for The Boxtrolls, the latest 3D animated feature from Portland-based Laika Studios, a sweet-faced toddler stands alone on a street as various combinations of parents in Victorian garb appear and disappear beside him.
"Sometimes there's a mother," the narrator intones. "Sometimes there's a father. Sometimes there's a father and a father. Sometimes both fathers are mothers." Eventually, the little boy is spirited down a sewer by a friendly crew of crated monsters.
That this decidedly upbeat and inclusive message should arrive on the most eventful week in gay rights history -- one that saw both DOMA and Prop 8 struck down by the U.S. Supreme Court -- is just a happy bit of happenstance for Laika, the rare mainstream studio to incorporate gay-positive depictions in their family films.
For Travis Knight, the 39-year-old president and CEO of Laika and an accomplished stop-motion animator in his own right, finding stories that send kids the right kinds of messages -- and not necessarily the safest ones -- is a top priority.