… … … Really? I mean… really?! Trolls?! The comically nude dolls with Skittle-colored hair? This is what Hollywood needs in order to make a buck? As you can probably guess, I didn’t collect these as a kid, and I didn’t know anyone that did. I knew that there were people out there that did, but… man, if they weren’t hard to find. Anyway, I was probably like everyone else who rolled their eyes at the prospect of this film.
But maybe my interest spiked a little when Anna Kendrick’s (THE ACCOUNTANT , PARANORMAN , and SCOTT PILGRIM VS. THE WORLD ) name was dropped. She is, after all, not only a wonderfully charming actress, but a talented singer as well, evidenced by the Pitch Perfect films. Maybe some other folks would be happy to see Justin Timberlake’s (RUNNER RUNNER , TROUBLE WITH THE CURVE , and FRIENDS WITH BENEFITS ) name on here, but I’m indifferent. I don’t think I was ever really a fan of NSYNC, and I guess that lack of enthusiasm went into his film career. I won’t say that I hate his work, I’m just not familiar with it. Supporting these two are other pretty big names, like, Zooey Deschanel (500 DAYS OF SUMMER , YES MAN , and TV show NEW GIRL), Christopher Mintz-Plasse (SUPERBAD , both How to Train Your Dragon and Kick-Ass films), and many others.
Now for behind the scenes. Co-directing are Walt Dohrn and Mike Mitchell. Dohrn is a relatively inexperienced director known only for directing some episodes of the TV show SPONGEBOB SQUAREPANTS, and the short film DONKEY’S CHRISTMAS SHREKTACULAR. Mitchell on the other hand is a little more experienced, having directed THE SPONGBOB MOVIE: SPONGE OUT OF WATER (2015), SHREK FOREVER AFTER (2010), and SKY HIGH (2005). Co-writing the script, and reuniting with Mitchell from SPONGE OUT OF WATER, are Jonathan Aibel and Glenn Berger, both men known for writing the Kung Fu Panda trilogy and MONSTERS VS. ALIENS (2009). Composing the music is Christophe Beck, known for THE PEANUTS MOVIE (2015), EDGE OF TOMORROW (2014), and Disney’s FROZEN (2013). Finally, the cinematographer is newcomer Yong Duk Jhun, reuniting with the writers and Mitchell, who is known for only SHREK FOREVER AFTER and KUNG FU PANDA (2008).
Overall, I’m not expecting anything big or truly all that good, but I know we might get some catchy songs sung by Kendrick and Timberlake, so it may be, at worst, enjoyable. This is my honest opinion of TROLLS.
Once upon a time, the diminutive Trolls were oppressed by a much bigger and threatening people called the Bergens. They believed that they could only experience happiness if they ate a troll. But finally, the Trolls had enough and escaped that life and started anew. Twenty years later, the Trolls have moved on and reverted back to being people of happiness, singing, dancing, and hugs, all lead by the bubbly and charismatic Poppy (Anna Kendrick), future queen of the Trolls. Well, all except one Troll: Branch (Justin Timberlake), who is a cynical Troll who believes that everyone’s happiness will eventually bring the Bergens right back to them and generally stays away from the crowd. Turns out, he was right. A big party ends up getting Poppy’s closest friends captured and now Poppy wants to bring them back home safely.
Not a fan. While admittedly better than I thought, it’s still not good.
Alright, so what did I not like about it? Well, right off the bat, the tone felt incredibly off. I mean, you look at the trailer, and you think you’re going to get an innocent enough kids movie. But right away, the movie opens on cannibalism. Seriously. The Bergens have to eat the Trolls in order to experience happiness. Yeah… I don’t know about you, but I never looked at the troll dolls and thought to myself, “I wanna eat those.” This is some heavy and dark stuff that’s being thrown in here for a kids movie about some innocent toy dolls. I feel like there were different avenues that could have been taken to make this a little more impactful. What if the Bergens were technologically savvy and built a machine that sucked out the happiness from the Trolls and made it into like a soda or something? Wouldn’t that technically be the biggest threat to the Trolls? They spend their entire existence being merry and all hug-happy, you’d think death-by-devouring would be a bit of an extreme. My idea makes more sense considering that Branch is something of an outcast. Fine if Poppy wants him to be one with his people, that’s her character, but no other Troll seems to care if he’s around. Hell, with my “happy soda” idea, a clever writer might be able to make some sort of commentary about drinking soda or something. I don’t know, but… eating is too dark for a movie that markets itself being really bright and happy. None of the darkness is really earned and feels so forced to try to appeal to a more mature audience and it doesn’t work.
As talented as Kendrick and Timberlake are as singers, and they do admittedly sound great in unison, I don’t remember one lyric from any of the songs. I don’t even remember tempo, beats, absolutely nothing other than an annoying near-rap number in the beginning. But again, I do remember Kendrick’s comedic delivery being spot-on in one of them. Still, the songs are utterly forgettable.
And in the name of… some of these characters are so… ugh. What is with that worm thing that the big Troll carries around, Mr. Dinkles? Why… why is this necessary? It’s not cute! It’s creepy! What’s with that four-legged, long-necked, dread-lock guy, Cooper (Ron Funches)? Is he a troll? What is he??? The cloud guy? What the- never mind the bizarre choice of character-addition, he’s obnoxious as can be. Gear shift? A car reference?? Do these creatures even know what a car is?? How would they know to make that reference??
So are there any good aspects about the movie? Well, as I said above, Kendrick’s great as always. Timberlake’s not bad either. It is colorful and pretty to look at, visually speaking. I remember some jokes sticking, but the vast majority don’t. So… not a lot of positives. Just a bunch of celebrities getting together to show off their singing talents in an animated kids movie. It’s forgettable, and overall, a dull or frustrating mess. Maybe kids will get a kick out of it, but I can’t imagine adults will like it very much.
My honest rating for TROLLS: a weak 3/5.