Trolls haven’t always enjoyed a particularly warm and fuzzy connotation, from the billy goats gruffs’ nemesis to the current internet slugs, but Dreamworks Animation is doing everything it can to change that. If they have their way, “trolls” will soon only be associated with the multi-colored, confetti-covered cute little forest creatures who now have their very own musical movie. And though the film resembles what you would see if Rainbow Brite threw up a bowl of Fruity Pebbles (in 3D), overall the thing actually works.
There are plenty of legitimately charming moments and even healthy doses of good humor in Trolls, as we are all taught the power of happiness─the same way Monsters Inc. showed us laughter is the world’s best power source.
Anna Kendrick takes the lead as Princess Poppy, the de facto leader of Troll Village. For two decades they’ve lived in hiding, safe from the nasty Bergens who believe the only way to find true joy is to eat a Troll. During the village’s 20th anniversary gala, things get a little loud and crazy and glitter-tastic, leading the Bergen chef (Christine Baranski) straight to them. She kidnaps a handful of Trolls, forcing Poppy and her stick-in-the-mud sidekick Branch (Justin Timberlake) to organize a rescue.
Once they arrive at the castle in Bergen Town, Poppy and Branch eventually devise a plan that includes sucking up to the Bergen scullery maid Bridget (Zooey Deschanel), who is herself infatuated with her leader, Prince Gristle Jr. (Christopher Mintz-Plasse). Poppy and Branch will help Bridget get her man, if she’ll help get their friends released.
The script by the Kung Fu Panda 3 duo of Jonathan Aibel and Glenn Berger isn’t groundbreaking by any means, and of course it slips into kid-movie cliches a little too often, but there are sporadic moments where Trolls offers something fresh. And then we learn that the cute little things poop cupcakes and toot glitter.
The voice cast is solid across the board. It’s Kendrick’s show from start-to-finish, and she’s more than up to the task, and Timberlake does solid work as the resident grump. Minor players like James Corden as Biggie Troll and Gwen Stefani as DJ Suki get lost in the shuffle, but others like Mintz-Plasse and especially Deschanel make the most of their voice-time on screen.
As for the music, much of it is been-there-done-that covers, including “The Sound of Silence”, Lionel Ritchie’s “Hello”, and Diana Ross’ “I’m Coming Out”, but there’s also a good bit of infectious original music, including Kendrick’s “Get Back Up Again” and Timberlake’s summer smash “Can’t Stop the Feeling!”.
Director Mike Mitchell (Shrek Forever After) seemingly had a ball putting Trolls together, alongside first-timer Walt Dohrn. The animation is whimsical, almost reminiscent of claymation in several spots, and the pace doesn’t let up until the inevitable third-act pause for character development and misty-eyed realizations.
Throughout Trolls you’ll tap your feet and bob your head, and you certainly won’t be able to keep from smiling. It’s not a game-changer by any means, and Pixar won’t lose any sleep at night, but it still succeeds as light, frothy entertainment. After all, who among us who doesn’t like a little rainbow-colored, cupcake-poop fun?
Worth the 3D glasses?
Assuming the movie is worth your (or your children’s) time, then yes, go ahead and spring for the added eyewear. There’s more than enough to justify it, including the aforementioned toot-glitter.