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'Kubo and the Two Strings' plucks at the chords of family and love

(Focus Features, YouTube)



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KUBO'S VILLAGE — I remember a few years ago listening to the eulogies given at my grandfather’s funeral. I sat completely in awe as I listened to the story of his life unfold as told by people who had known him much longer than I. I could not believe that this was the same man I had known all of my life, yet somehow was only aware of a small portion of his story and the legacy he had left.

At that moment, a few things occurred to me that I can coincidentally sum up with the story told in the movie, "Kubo and the Two Strings."

We all play a unique part in a bigger story

After we have done all we can do in this life, we can only hope that those things will matter to family we may never know somewhere down our line.

In "Kubo and the Two Strings," a one-eyed 11-year-old boy named Kubo learns the story of his heroic father and the fate of his missing eye as told by his sick mother through her fantastic tales. As the movie unfolds, we learn of the bigger story behind Kubo and how he fits into a much larger narrative.

The director, Travis Knight, expertly builds the context for the adventure Kubo is forced into and why families matter so much on our journey.

It is our responsibility to pass our story along

I enjoy telling my kids stories of my life and the memories I have of special people they will never meet. My hope is that some of “dad’s boring stories” will stick and my children will carry them along.

In order to survive, Kubo goes down to the small village near his home to play his magical guitar-like instrument for money. With his instrument, Kubo magically brings to life pieces of paper by turning them into origami characters that act out his mother’s stories as he retells them.

Kubo’s colorful storytelling will ultimately contribute to his own legend which will then be passed down by those who witnessed it. The visual tools the animators use to portray this effect are a brilliant and beautiful way to carry the movie forward.

With its camera angles and visuals, you feel like a participant in the story rather than a viewer. These tools are especially effective in 3-D.

We don’t write the ending to the story— only the next chapter

Just as my grandfather’s story helped shape my father’s life, my father’s story has helped shape mine. I am also a father and. . . you get where this is going.

Throughout the film, we see how the selfless sacrifices of Kubo’s father and mother affect his decisions and the consequences both good and bad that come from them.

Finally, Kubo who through his own heroic sacrifices, is able to change the course of his family’s destiny while charting his own story.

"Kubo and the Two Strings" is a beautifully crafted film that blurs the lines between the rough tactile feel of stop-motion animation and the smooth movement of computer animation.

However, the story goes far beyond just the eye-popping visuals.

"Kubo and the Two Strings" does something we don't often get to expereince at the movies; It delivers a story that beautifully speaks to the importance of family in our lives, the role they play before we are born and the influence they will leave after we have passed.

"Kubo and the Two Strings" is rated PG for thematic elements, scary images, action and peril.

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