Hot Take: Beautifully animated but scary and sad enough to question how appropriate or off-target this is a movie for kids. I thoroughly enjoyed it but I’m 40 and can’t imagine my 10-year-old self being anywhere near as entertained.
After viewing Kubo and the Two Strings, I really didn’t know what to make of the experience. The movie, thanks to some incredible animation and an impressive score, was beautiful to watch and listen to. The main character Kubo is one you instantly want to root for and the story while inherently strange and mysterious is also simple, smart and layered.
The overriding thought throughout watching Kubo and the Two Strings, though, was, “If I were still a kid, would I have enjoyed this?” Personally, I can’t say the dark and sad nature of Kubo would be something compelling to my younger self. It’s not that Kubo and the Two Strings doesn’t have plenty of light moments, it’s more of a lack of balance between the light and the dark. Unlike most movies labeled as kid’s fare, Kubo and the Two Strings feels like a movie you’ll watch as a kid and then watch 20 years later and realize how much you failed to appreciate it as a young adult. That’s typically the opposite reaction most have to viewing films from their youth. That’s essentially a good thing but it begs the question, “Is Kubo and the Two Strings really a movie for children?”
That doesn’t really matter when judging the quality of Kubo and the Two Strings. It was somewhat distracting to think about while trying to absorb the visually stunning art and creatively dark tale. Honestly, if I was less awake during the viewing, I might have felt that I slipped into a dream-like state as the quirky, reflective tale also features frightening characters and a talking monkey and heroic samurai bug voiced by Charlize Theron and Matthew McCounaghey respectively. This isn’t always a good thing as there are times when Kubo gets a little too far “out there” and feels a little incoherent.
Kubo and the Two Strings truly is a treat to watch despite its dark mood and emotive narrative. It flips the script on most kid’s fare as we typically ask why would parents care about what’s unfolding on the screen. With Kubo, it’s a tale that you can easily see parents enjoying more than the children who tugged on their shirttails until they agreed to go to see it. The tale might even elicit some tears as it aims right for the tear ducts and Kubo and the Two Strings has just the right mixture of darkness, warmth and care to pluck a few.
“Spoiler Free” Pros
- Up For Discussion
Come January, many will have Kubo and the Two Strings as the front-runner for Best Animated Film. Heck, there will be a few that think it should be nominated for Best Picture but not to the extent of last year’s Inside Out.
- The Music
Kubo’s musical accompaniment to his stories is as good as the stories being told. The soundtrack for Kubo and the Two Strings is an instrumental masterpiece and as beautiful as the animation it shares the screen with.
“Spoiler Free” Cons
- Is It Really A Movie For Kids?
While there’s no denying Kubo and the Two Strings is a kid’s movie, it feels like one made for adults. That’s not necessarily a bad thing but it might be too intellectual for younger audiences who aren’t quite ready for some of the movie’s deeper meaning.