‘Trolls’ Film Review

Grade: C

Trolls Movie Poster

The Troll Dolls (created by Danish woodcutter Thomas Dam) have been inhabiting the shelves of many homes after they were first carved out of wood since the early 60’s. (There is a kind of funny reference to the way they were made early on in the beginning of the film.) I remember growing up around the plastic versions of these hilariously dressed, baby-faced cuties in almost every house I’ve been in; for me, I just could not avoid them. Now that the movie based on the long-dead fad has turned into a ‘Happy Feet’/’Strange Magic’ semi-musical involving the adorably positive trolls and a threat they have to face, the fad may just be back for a new generation of children to collect.

Compare the trolls in this film to the ones that we’ve collected for years; these trolls are cute and colorful to the point where children and adult audiences barely notice the similarities to the originals. (Besides the long hair, which is used like a rope that blends in with its environment – You should have taken notes, Rapunzel, before you chopped off that hair before the end of Disney’s ‘Tangled’.) I also have come to the theoretical conclusion that Dreamworks heard of the success of Warner Animation Group’s ‘The LEGO Movie’ and thought of trying their luck at a toy product. (Even going so far as to buying the rights to the dolls themselves.) While ‘Trolls’ is a cute and colorful film for the kids to enjoy, that is really most of what I can say about this jumbled mess.

The story is mainly about these miserable ogre-like creatures called Bergens who cannot sing, dance, or show affection as well. So their only solution is to kidnap and eat the trolls in order to feel happiness. When Princess Poppy, (Voice of Anna Kendrick) the happiest of the trolls, accidentally sends the Chef Bergen (Voice of Christine Baranski) to Troll Village while throwing a party celebrating their 20-year escape from the creatures, most of her friends get kidnapped and she sets off on a quest to save them. Reluctantly joining her is Branch – (Voice of Justin Timberlake) the negative troll in the village – who has no time for Poppy’s cheery attitude and believes that life is “not all rainbows and cupcakes”.

This may sound like the plot of the movie, but in reality, it is mainly a story about two bergens (Voices of Zooey Deschanel and Christopher Mintz-Plasse) indulging in a pointless Cinderella-like romance. If you take out the trolls, then this is the movie you get. Other than that subplot, ‘Trolls’ is also the same cliché children’s animated fantasy; positive protagonist goes on a journey with a negative Nancy character which causes the pessimist to change his tune. They learn lessons along the way while meeting new comical characters and live happily ever after. Tell me you haven’t seen this before and I will be impressed, maybe even pleased.

I do admit that ‘Trolls’ is better than it could have been, but I feel that children will enjoy this a lot more than adults. I would have thought it was going to be terrible by the way its first 10 minutes went on with every joke trying to be cutesy. As the film goes on, it does tone itself down to actually give adults and film aficionados to enjoy. There is a color scheme that separates the positive characters (having them colorful) and the negative characters; (Gray, or colorless.) especially during its surprisingly quiet moment near the end. There are also some honestly clever sight gags. (Something Illumination’s ‘The Secret Life of Pets’ needed to do with its premise.) I just cannot call this a great animated film despite its film-making, and energy the soundtrack tries to hit you with. ‘Can’t Stop the Feeling’ by Justin Timberlake is a catchy ear-worm that will get kids and adults singing after the movie’s over. The song might get an Oscar-nomination, but the film surely won’t. Bet me on this!  

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