A MOSTLY HARMLESS KIDS MOVIE, BUT A STEP BACKWARDS FOR DREAMWORKS ANIMATION!
By Nico Beland
Movie Review: ** ½ out of 4
Poppy and Branch in Trolls
This is another 2016 movie release that had terrible marketing around it, besides Ghostbusters, the original teaser for the DreamWorks Animation movie, Trolls, based on the iconic toy line looked so horrendously awful I thought to myself “Okay, DreamWorks has clearly given up!”. What, an animated movie about cute little trolls who sing, dance, and hug all the time, really, this is your movie? From the same studio that gave us Shrek, Kung Fu Panda, and How to Train Your Dragon, a movie about TROLLS!?! No, just no!
It looked like the biggest corporate sell-out you could possibly get for a kids’ movie since…Alvin and the Chipmunks, Smurfs, Minions, Angry Birds, and…just about every kids’ movie that comes out these days, that are expected to be a hit. The second trailer was a little better, but I wasn’t fully convinced yet, it just looked lame to me, especially for a film studio that I have so much respect for.
When the reviews came out, I suddenly got interested, but my expectations were still very low, so I came in, sat in the theater, and watched it. It’s an average animated movie for little kids, it’s not bad, it’s not great, just average.
I can definitely feel relieved that the movie was MUCH better than the marketing, in fact DreamWorks should fire their marketing crew behind it. The animation and is literally eye candy, the colors, character designs, and world are like sugar for the eyes, especially in 3D.
The plot however is very generic, you got a bunch of happy little creatures who sing, dance, hug, and have fun, but an evil character(s) wants to catch and eat them. Sounds familiar doesn’t it? Guess what, if you’ve ever seen a Smurfs cartoon, then congratulations you know the plot of Trolls in a nutshell.
The film follows a race of creatures called Trolls who live in the trees and have a severe addiction to happiness, dancing, and hugging all day long (Basically they are miles closer to World Peace than we are), not a care in the world. But they are soon discovered by a miserable race of creatures called Bergens who never feel happy and believe that they can gain happiness by eating Trolls.
So the Bergens capture a bunch of Trolls, and it’s up to the king of the Trolls’ daughter, the always positive princess, Poppy (voiced by Anna Kendrick-The Twilight Saga, Pitch Perfect, Into the Woods) and a negative Troll named Branch (voiced by Justin Timberlake-Shrek the Third, The Social Network, In Time) who has lost the ability to be happy, to embark on a journey to save their friends before the Trollsmas dinner, a Bergen holiday dedicated to eating Trolls.
The film also features the voices of Zooey Deschanel (Elf, Yes Man, New Girl) as Bridget, Russell Brand (Despicable Me, Hop, Rock of Ages) as Creek, James Corden (Doctor Who, Planet 51, Into the Woods) as Biggie, Gwen Stefani (Saturday Night Live, The Aviator, The Voice) as DJ Suki, Icona Pop’s Aino Jawo as Satin, Ron Funches (Get Hard, The Adventures of Puss in Boots, Home: Adventures with Tip & Oh) as Cooper, Kunal Nayyar (Ice Age: Continental Drift, The Big Bang Theory, Sanjay and Craig) as Guy Diamond, YouTube personality, GloZell as Grandma Rosiepuff, Ricky Dillon (The Soup Investigates, AwesomenessTV) as Aspen Heitz, Christine Baranski (Addams Family Values, How the Grinch Stole Christmas, Into the Woods) as Chef, John Cleese (Monty Python’s Flying Circus, George of the Jungle, Shrek 2 and 3) as King Gristle Sr., Christopher Mintz-Plasse (How to Train Your Dragon, ParaNorman, Pitch Perfect) as Prince Gristle Jr., SpongeBob Squarepants writer and storyboard artist, Walt Dohrn (Shrek Forever After, Puss in Boots: The Three Diablos, Penguins of Madagascar) as Cloud Guy, Jeffrey Tambor (Arrested Development, How the Grinch Stole Christmas, Hellboy) as King Peppy, Quvenzhané Wallis (Beasts of the Southern Wild, Annie, Lemonade) as Harper, and the film’s director, Mike Mitchell (Sky High, Shrek Forever After, The SpongeBob Movie: Sponge Out of Water) as Darius.
Overall, Trolls is a serviceable kids’ movie, it has decent characters, colorful animation, songs, and easy laughs, it’s hard to pan a movie that’s so adorable and harmless, for the right reasons. If you got little kids and want to entertain them for an hour and a half, this won’t be a waste of your time.
The plot is very standard, but what I appreciated all throughout the movie were the animation and creativity. I would have preferred having another writer onboard to help add new things to the story, but the imagination runs wild and overshadows the lousy plot.
How the Troll world works, what the Trolls can do, and even the musical numbers, despite many of them being money pandering hip music, are appealing to look at. The writers were slacking off but the animators were definitely giving the project their all.
Is it one of the best DreamWorks animated movies ever made? No, it’s not even close to being as timeless as Shrek, Kung Fu Panda, or How to Train Your Dragon. But, for a movie that could have been cheap corporate fluff, there’s some more effort put into it than you would think.