Release Date: Nov. 4, 2016
Running Time: 93 minutes
Trolls is a vicarious acid trip for 6-year-old kids that’s conceived to hook them on the brand of dolls of the same name. That’s not to say this proudly weird DreamWorks animated adventure is bad—it’s thankfully more Lego Movie than one long commercial for dolls that are no longer in the mainstream conscious. But, of course, the desired intent is to sell as many units as possible this holiday season of the Anna Kendrick-voiced Poppy, the perpetually upbeat and exhaustingly peppy princess of the Trolls. The task of ensuring Trolls justifies its existence falls upon director Mike Mitchell, who previously directed the underwhelming Shrek Forever After and the delightfully silly SpongeBob Movie: Sponge Out of Water. He brings fun and absurdity to a familiar David vs. Goliath story that is driven by the pursuit of happiness. The diminutive Trolls live to party, even when in hiding from their enemies, the Bergens. Devouring Trolls provides the only pleasure in life for these giant grumps. When a Bergen chef (Christine Baranski) discovers the Trolls’ secret homeland, she plans a huge feast as a mean to steal the throne from her young and impressionable crown king, Gristle Jr. (Christopher Mintz-Plasse) It falls on Poppy to stop her fellow Trolls from being served to the hungry Bergens on a silver platter. She enlists the help of Branch (Justin Timberlake), an undisputed grouch who has spent his entire life in fear of and preparing for the Bergens’ return. This all results in a blinding explosion of bright colors and an uncomplicated lesson on the power of positivity that’s set to a soundtrack of new and reworked Top 40 hits, from Timberlake’s summer smash “Can’t Stop the Feeling!” to covers of Lionel Richie’s “Hello,” Simon & Garfunkel’s “The Sounds of Silence” and Cyndi Lauper’s “True Colors.” When not required to sing, Timberlake engages in some amusing bickering with Kendrick. But, as we all know, opposites attract. So it’s no surprise when the cantankerous Branch and the relentlessly optimistic Poppy begin to fall for each other after they come to a place of mutual understanding. The other standout from the voice cast is Zooey Deschanel, whose lovelorn Bergen scullery maid Bridget carries with her the potential to bring the hunter and the hunted together in perfect harmony. But first, though, director Mike Mitchell and credited screenwriters Jonathan Aibel and Glenn Berger offers some scary encounters between the Trolls and the Bergen to raise the stakes. They also find a way to naturally work in the Trolls’ physical characteristics into the film, most noticeably through the constant use of their long, furry hair. Mitchell also gives Trolls the look and feel of a stop-motion animated feature—it is not—to generate a sense of old-fashioned charm. He also maintains Trolls’ manic energy through to the final dance sequence. Yes, Trolls has enough sunshine in its pockets to brighten up the darkest of souls.
Aired: Nov. 3, 2016
Web site: https://www.dreamworks.com/trolls/