Trolls. Is. So. Colourful. In theory, this sounded like its only virtue, seeming like a misjudged cash-grabbing exercise with a passé ’90s toy. Happily, however, Trolls subverts expectations with an irrepressible style, and attention paid to the smallest details for jokes (long a Disney hallmark).
From the team behind Shrek, Trolls has a similar “take nothing seriously” and adult-friendly attitude. Capitalising on the trend for singalong music, the soundtrack is filled with well-known, uptempo tunes and main vocal duties are taken by Pitch Perfect-er Anna Kendrick, with Zooey Deschanel and executive music producer Justin Timberlake in support.
Irresistibly upbeat, Trolls lifts moods. Having fun with just how over-the-top happy these creatures can be, the humour is cheesy and knowing, pushing punchlines all the way to stupidity, so even the most granite-faced will crack a smile.
Poppy (Kendrick) and Branch (Timberlake) make a sweet opposites-attract team for their quest to save trolls who have been kidnapped by their mortal enemies the Bergens – and Timberlake does well as an (unexpected) curmudgeon. Christine Baranski also makes a good baddie as the evil Chef, despite her lightly-sketched character, with lots of deliciously elongated vowels.
Trolls‘ animation is psychedelic, and tactile enough for you to want to stroke/smoosh characters – and there’s a lot of fun to be had with all the trolls’ hair. It does run out of steam plot-wise towards the end but doesn’t pad out events needlessly, running at a neat 90 minutes.
A little too light and pedestrian to be a classic, Trolls nevertheless sets up a fun universe for its characters and audience. Unlikely to stretch to cheapening sequels if the studio demands them, it is still certainly as funny as everyone had hoped The Secret Life of Pets would be.
CAST: Anna Kendrick, Justin Timberlake, Zooey Deschanel, Christine Baranski, Christopher Mintz-Plasse, Jeffrey Tambor, Russell Brand
DIRECTORS: Mike Mitchell, Walt Dohrn
WRITERS: Jonathan Aibel, Glenn Berger
SYNOPSIS: After a successful escape from the Bergens and their cannibalistic “Trollstice” 20 years previously, the all-singing, dancing and hugging trolls have enjoyed a charmed existence. When a number of them are kidnapped, Princess Poppy must team up with Branch, the only troll cynical enough to prepare for this eventuality, and go to their rescue.