Whilst it might sound like a terrible idea to make a film based around the toy Trolls we all thought the same about The Lego Movie before it ended up being one of the best films of the year.
Sadly Trolls is no The Lego Movie. In fact I think calling it a film is a bit generous, it’s more a series of pop music videos with vague underlying story threading them together. Featuring pop versions of the music of Simon and Garfunkel, Gorillaz, Lionel Ritchie, The Notorious B.I.G., Cyndi Lauper, and Justice the music in the film will either make you laugh out loud or wish you were listening to the originals. Unlike most musicals about half the songs don’t really relate to what is going on in the film, and instead are just a chance to play something popular, whilst the other half are extremely on the nose.
The actual story is extremely standard fair, with some of the Troll being captured to be eaten by bad guys called Bergens. The Troll princess Poppy (Anna Kendrick) sets out with the only Troll who isn’t happy all the time, Branch (Justin Timberlake), to save them. Once they get to Bergen Town they end up befriending a scullery maid who is in love with the Bergen king and attempt to set them up in order to rescue their friends before they’re eaten. Honestly it’s a pretty thin storyline that never feels like it has any stakes to it, and is merely an excuse to get to the next song.
It’s not all bad though; the vocal cast assembled by DreamWorks is very impressive. Along with Kendrick and Timberlake the film also features Zooey Deschanel, James Cordon, Christopher Mintz-Plasse, Gwen Stefani, Christine Baranski, and cameos from Jeffrey Tambor and John Cleese. It’s a good cast, and a lot of those are good enough singers to pull of an animated musical.
But given that Trolls is a film very much about emotion and joy, it just doesn’t really carry a strong enough message or help explain these complex ideas to children like last year’s Inside Out succeeded in doing. And when you consider that DreamWorks recently brought us two of my favourite animated films of all time in the How To Train Your Dragon franchise Trolls just feels like a real let down.
There is enough there in terms of vibrant colours and upbeat pop music to keep younger children entertained for a couple of hours, but this is far from the high standard of animated films that we are being given at the moment.