Kubo and the Two Strings

What if nature gave us a way to embrace our late parents one more time? I wish we could all have Kubo’s two strings.

kubo-and-the-two-stringsKubo and the Two Strings adds to the arresting list of magnificent animated films hitting the screen in 2016. Released by Laika Films, the group that previously brought us the wildly engaging films Coraline (2009) and ParaNorman (2012), Kubo and the Two Strings is another adult animated film disguised as children’s entertainment.

To begin with, I would be careful if I took any children under the age of 8. The movie begins with Kubo, a baby, washed ashore with his mother. You soon learn that death lurks closely around everyone, something that all adults clearly understand. This film is a reminder of the importance of memories when you finally have to say goodbye to those you love.

The movie centers on the fact that young Kubo (Art Parkinson) has but one eye, learning that the other had been intentionally removed by his horrid grandfather (Ralph Fiennes) and his mother’s twisted sisters for unknown reasons. What makes matters worse is that Kubo is being hunted by these witch-like ladies (voiced in fine form by Rooney Mara) and the film follows his struggle as he seeks to help those around him survive.

Before Kubo’s dangerous journey begins, he is joined by an ornery monkey (Charlize Theron) and a humorous Samurai transformed into a huge beetle (Matthew McConoughey). They have a warm, engaging and at times very funny relationship, though our heroes knows that they are dancing at death’s door.

The cinematography is splendid as you follow our endearing trio through jungles, over raging seas and battles underwater. Yet it might be challenging for younger kids to embrace a movie where they have to imagine relatives trying to kill them and a parent.

Regardless, the movie succeeds on a very high level because it embraces the core nature of a family unit. The kindest parents are going to meet their maker in the end, and their children must be left with core values wrapped in splendid memories that will allow them to become adults who would make their parents proud.

As I watched this film, I sensed that I was not alone in being reminded of my own late parents. My father, a lifelong rural mail carrier, taught me the importance of a sense of humor. My mom, a mother of five who worked part-time at a small pharmacy, instilled in me the fundamental principle that you applauded a child’s successes while embracing them with forgiveness following any mistake.

Whether older kids understand that fundamental concept forming the foundation of a decent life before entering the theater, they will fully know it by the time the movie ends.