Everyone has happiness inside them, they just have to find it. Is this message enough to carry a movie about singing trolls and psychedelic hair? Surprisingly, the movie rocked that message and was incredibly sweet while doing so.
The trolls live in the forest, spending their time singing, dancing and hugging, basically having a blast, just being their happy selves. But one day, large creatures called Bergens who are perpetually miserable discover the existence of the Trolls and also find out, if they eat the trolls, the trolls make them happy. The Troll King, Peppy (Jeffrey Tambour) leads his people to escape through underground tunnels on the very day that the Bergen Crown Prince Gristle Jr. (Christopher Mintz-Plasse) is going taste his first Troll at the yearly festival Trollstice. The furious Bergen king Gristle Sr. (John Cleese) banishes the Chef (Christine Baranski) in charge of the Troll preparation for allowing the Trolls to escape.
Twenty years later, Peppy’s daughter, Poppy (Anna Kendrick) is all grown up, optimistic and happy. She throws a party to celebrate that escape despite warnings from the glum and paranoid Branch (Justin Timberlake). Branch turns out to be the smart one as the Trolls’ party lights up the forest and is crashed by Chef who captures some of Poppy’s friends. She heads out to Bergen town to rescue her friends before they’re eaten by the Bergens. After being delayed by spiders, she is joined by Branch who is willing to join her to escape hug time. Along the way, they make a deal with scullery maid, Bridget (Zooey Deschanel). If she helps them free their friends, they’ll help her get a date with the young King Gristle. Transforming Bridget into Lady Glitter Sparkles, she hits it off with the king and keeps her word with the Trolls. The Trolls are almost ready to leave but things go haywire when they find out one last troll still needs rescuing, Creek (Russell Brand). They must work together and figure out a solution to save everyone.
The movie is full of music and dancing. Given that the troll dolls were first introduced when I was growing up, I especially liked that they used the sounds of the seventies and eighties to highlight the message of the film.
It was clever of the writers to give viewers an explanation for the Trolls’ hair. In the movie, Poppy’s hair is used as a vine and she uses it as a disguise. Branch makes his hair into a whip to fight a monster and as a group, all the Trolls use their follicles to transform Bridget. I thought it was a cool way to give meaning to the Troll’s bright, spiky hair and the kids in the theater loved it.
The 3-D effects worked well. My guest loved the pop up effects and she doesn’t normally like 3-D any more than I do. She thought it worked especially well in the song and dance numbers. I think if you’re saving money you won’t miss it if you go to the 2-D but if you have the extra money, it should be worth it.
The story was predictable but it’s also a children’s movie so I didn’t go in expecting it to have a complicated plot. But what I did enjoy was they had a decent story and an incredibly lovely message for children to take away with them. This movie was all about choosing to be happy, sometimes with help from your friends and being the best you that you can be while being happy with yourself. And that means everyone gets to be happy, not just one group. One of the interesting parts to that message was that there isn’t just one way to be happy, everyone has their own way to be happy. And the only true villain of the story was the person who insisted that there was only one right way. Not only is that an incredibly complex idea for a children’s film, it was portrayed deftly by the characters.
The voice actors played their parts well, each showing that happy is a choice. It was upbeat and positive. Adults in the audience laughed at the crocodile chase scene as the Trolls try to escape in a roller skate. Despite the predictability, each part of the movie connects. I thought Bridget was sweet and endearing.
Children will love this movie. Adults will laugh and remember their own troll dolls. I think some pre-teens might like it for the music and dance sections. I know even I was dancing in my seat a little at the end. It compares well with other children’s movies this year and I thought it was good hearted, silly, joyful fun.
Rating: 3 stars
DreamWorks Animation’s TROLLS is an irreverent comedy extravaganza with incredible music! From the genius creators of SHREK, TROLLS stars Anna Kendrick as Poppy, the optimistic leader of the Trolls, and her polar opposite, Branch, played by Justin Timberlake. Together, this unlikely pair of Trolls must embark on an adventure that takes them far beyond the only world they’ve ever known.
Cast: Anna Kendrick, Justin Timberlake, Gwen Stefani, James Corden, Russell Brand, Icona Pop, Ron Funches and Kunal Nayaar
Director: Mike Mitchell (Shrek Forever After)
Co-director: Walt Dohrn (Shrek Forever After)