I get it, those little toys they called TROLLS were very popular at one time. You could find one of these suckers in nearly every child’s play area. But how the hell are you going to make a movie – let alone a good one – about a freaking doll with very tall hair? Well, somehow DreamWorks Animation has created not only a good one, but a nearly irresistible musical comedy that is almost all cupcakes and rainbows – a good thing in case you were wondering. While it may be a ton predictable and sometimes silly, it is also incredibly charming and legitimately funny. This is such an enchanting little flick that you can’t be too bothered by its overtly happy attitude.
Everything is going great for all the Trolls after they manage to escape being held captive by the Bergens – mean and nasty monsters that kept them prisoner. You see, these monstrous beasts believe that you can only be happy by eating a troll, thus, they created Trollstice – a day where you regain your happiness by eating one of the cute little critters. After the head chef (Christine Baranski) of the Bergens is banished due to escaping Trolls, she vows to one day bring her happy little meals back to her people. After years of seemingly searching, the chef finds them and steals several cute little Trolls in hopes to take control of the Bergens kingdom. Thankfully, a spunky little Troll named Poppy (Anna Kendrick) and a dour little fella named Branch (Justin Timberlake) go on a rescue mission to save all Trolls from dire consequence.
Even while typing the plot of this movie, it is hard to believe it works so well. The thing about this animated feature is the energy and the music. The Trolls lead a very unique existence. All they do is hug, sing and dance – I’m sure they eat and sleep too but it is clearly not a priority. Even with the grim sounding plot, this is a lively bit of colorful fun, a big ball of precious. Directed by Walt Dohrn and Mike Mitchell, and written by Jonathan Aibel, Glenn Berger with a story by Erica Rivinoja, the filmmakers have embraced the wacky world of this popular toy, and brought them to a story that is about as engaging as any animated film this year.
When it comes to the music, Justin Timberlake is credited as executive music producer as well as voice actor. And frankly, the mix of old school disco with pop hits works far better than it should. The characters cover a number of familiar tunes including Simon and Garfunkel’s The Sound of Silence, Cyndi Lauper’s True Colors and Lionel Richie’s Hello. All of which are surprisingly memorable. In fact, once Timberlake breaks out into that old Lauper hit, the film takes an unexpectedly emotional turn. The tunes come fast and the beats may even have you tapping your toes. Maybe it’s all too cute, but with all the catchy tunes it’s really hard to resist.
Another thing TROLLS gets right is the casting. Anna Kendrick is perfect as the ridiculously optimistic Poppy, who will one day end up queen of the Trolls. This feature utilizes her lovely personality as well as her singing talents in a wonderful way. Poppy, this odd little creature will have a ton of young fans after they witness this overload of cuteness. Aside from Kendrick, Timberlake is great as well and we all know he can sing. Other standouts include Zooey Deschanel as a lovestruck Bergen and Christine Baranski as the evil Bergen Chef. The film also boast the talents of Jeffrey Tambor, James Corden, John Cleese, Russell Brand, Christopher Mintz-Plasse and Gwen Stefani.
For a movie based on a cheap toy, this is terrific. Sure it’s predictable and maybe a little too cheeky, but I fell for it and laughed at many of the jokes – The Sound of Silence bit had me cracking up about as hard as I have all year at the movies. TROLLS is such an entertaining bit of goofiness, and it wears it’s crazy optimistic heart on its sleeve. In fact, it is so unapologetically cheery that it may turn some people off, but I dare you not to be at least smiling on the inside while watching this bright and shiny animated musical comedy. TROLLS is far better than you’d expect, in fact, it is just plain delightful.