REVIEW – Music, animation in “Trolls” makes it fun for the kids

Overall, some good musical choices, and a straight-forward story, but the film is pushing for cavities with some of its sugary sweetness.

Starring Anna Kendrick and Justin Timberlake, Trolls is a film based on the toys of the same name. Yeah – those creepy, small naked dolls with the colourful hair. Timberlake was also the executive music director for the film, which had me mostly pumped for the soundtrack.

The Trolls are the happiest creatures you’ll ever meet. They spend most of their days singing, hugging, and scrap booking. But it wasn’t always sunshine and roses for our tiny friends: twenty years earlier, they suffered at the hands of the Bergens – creatures that do not have the capacity to be happy, unless they consume a Troll.

Of course, all of the Trolls’ peace and quiet (or, not so quiet, if you factor in their loud parties) goes to shambles when Princess Poppy (Kendrick) and her over-the-top celebrations draw the attention of the exiled Bergen Chef (Christine Baranski) – the Bergen kicked out of the kingdom for letting “Trollstice” go to ruin. Princess Poppy and survivalist troll, Branch (Timberlake) decide to take the Chef down, as she hopes to return to the kingdom – with tasty Trolls in tow.

The movie is simple: fun animation, fun story – a fun time with your kids, friends or buddies. I would argue this cartoon is pretty self-aware of its kid-friendliness – ergo why it doesn’t pander to adults as much as other films have (examples that come to mind are Despicable Me) – and that’s totally fine. What I had problems with was stomaching the overly saccharine portions of the film – most notably in its back half – and namely because it’s not my personal preference. There’s nothing wrong with aspiring to be constantly happy, but I’m hoping it doesn’t have a bunch of kids abandoning balance in their lives – for instance, thinking that being sad or mad is a bad thing.

This is a film that is 100 percent, unabashedly, for children, and with animation oftentimes trying to get a bit “smarter” these days, I think it’s just okay to take this in as a more visual thing than as anything “smart.”

Music plays a major part, with much of the mood and tone of scenes being toyed with (usually in a good way) by Timberlake. Actually, one of my favourite scenes this year comes from this movie – and – spoiler alert – involves a little Simon and Garfunkel via Anna Kendrick…

This film also has one of my not-so-favourite uses of music this year: a very contradictory use of “Clint Eastwood” by the Gorillaz. In case you’re unfamiliar with the song, here you go – this is not the clip from the actual film.

There are also a couple of classical songs that are remixed for the purposes of this film, which, to me, is like slapping a really, really ugly bumper sticker on a rare car – but, overall, I do celebrate the choices made by Timberlake and the music crew in this film.

Lastly, some of the casting was gratuitous. While Kendrick absolutely shined in her role, and felt like a Princess Poppy, I was too caught up in the idea that I was watching a troll lip sync Timberlake. And angry/pessimistic Timberlake seems to sound the same in most of the movies he does – I kept thinking about how much he sounded like his character in Friends With Benefits. It felt a little to me like Timberlake was lending his voice to a character on screen – not really becoming that character, per se. And what’s with casting Gwen Stefani?! I have to knock Fox for this, because they trumped her up as being one of the big stars in this film! I was far more interested in hearing about Russell Brand and Christine Baranski (you hear FAR more from them in the film – and they’re great!) than I was about someone who had a bit part in the film. The publicity was a little misdirected, here.

Outside of all that, though, Trolls won’t troll you – or your time. I think it’s worth taking youngsters to, and, if you don’t take yourself too seriously, a buddy (or two).

I’m giving this one three glittery scrapbooks out of five.

Oh – and get ready for a throwback…remember this Justin Timberlake song of the summer?

…yeah. This also factors heavily into the movie – so, if you loved it, get ready to dance! If not…then, you’ve been warned.


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