"Trolls" Review

Title: Trolls
Director: Mike Mitchell
Starring: Anna Kendrick, Justin Timberlake
Studio: DreamWorks Animation
Genre(s): Comedy/Musical
Rated: PG (For some mild rude humor)

I never played with the toys of which DreamWork’s new film “Trolls” was based off of, but if I had I suspect I would have enjoyed them very much.  This is the most colorful movie I’ve seen in many years.  The characters are mostly too earnest for their own good, but there is an innocence and likability factor that is sorely missing from many kids’ franchises these days.  The movie boasts a catchy soundtrack that had me stopping by the store on the way home to buy the CD so I could listen to it on an indefinite loop.  That the movie itself is objectively not good is probably not going to hurt it in this case, because it is sweet, charming, and nothing but pure bubblegum.  Or you could say this is the equivalent to being big screen candy; it offers nothing of substance or nutrition, but it tastes good and is fun while it lasts. 

 The story revolves around our heroes who hide from monsters who want to eat them because they believe the only way to be happy is to eat a troll.  I can understand the logic a bit seeing that the trolls spend all their time singing, dancing, being nice to each other, and even have synchronized watches to let them know when it has been an hour and, thus, it is time to give whoever is close by a hug.  The sole exception in the group is Branch (Justin Timberlake, who also acted as a music supervisor for this film), who doesn’t sing, doesn’t smile, and is even colorless.  He knows that the monsters (whose name I can’t remember for the life of me) are still out there and still want to eat them.  He does have a soft spot for Princess Poppy (Anna Kendrick) who thinks nothing but positive thoughts and the best of the world.  Of course this means she is the one who has to save her friends when they are captured by the monsters.

None of this matters in a movie called “Trolls” though.  While I have always respected DreamWorks as being great storytellers in this business, (now former) CEO Jeffrey Katzenberg was not shy when he said that the inspiration of this movie was so that the studio could buy the franchise and market it to death.  As a result the story is pretty much just an excuse to introduce new characters who will be made into toys to sell.  I will give them this though: the producers behind the product know what will sell.  Kids will love the colors.  The 3D is a lot of fun (which should wring a few extra dollars out of most parents).  A sequel is already in the cards.  Getting Timberlake to produce the music has resulted in a soundtrack with some new songs that are great as well as covers of some classic songs.  The musical numbers are largely perfunctory in relation to everything that is going on, but it will sell soundtracks.

I also suspect that kids will have a hard time sitting still because the movie is just so damn charming you want to dance the whole time.  I must stress again though that the movie is objectively not good.  For all the colors and singing it doesn’t have a gripping story or much of a conflict.  For that matter, we have two lead characters who have lots of personality, yet most of the cast are one note characters whose personalities run on a rail.  It also was a little…too sweet, for my tastes.  This is one of those rare times when I am sort of at a loss for the grade.  “Trolls” walks such a fine line between recommendation and skip that it is bothering me.  I can’t honestly say go out of your way to see it, but if you have kids it is the most family friendly thing out there, and your kids can enjoy this and it’s not harmful.  So…like Poppy recommends, I’m just going to veer on the bright side of life with this one.

Parents, there is nothing objectionable in this movie. Recommended for all ages.