Directed by Mike Mitchell
October 8, 2016 (BFI London Film Festival) / November 4, 2016 (United States)
Two Trolls must go on a quest to save their village from being eaten by the Bergens, creatures who consume Trolls to experience happiness.
I went into this thinking I would hate it. It seemed too cloying and sappy for my tastes, but the animation looked good enough to make it worth one watch. I found it actually a very cute and funny film. The songs are great and at no point does it talk down to the audience. It deftly straddles family friendly and adult without going over the line in either end too often (but it does once with a recurring gag).
Before I launch into this too far, anybody see this as a thinly veiled antidrug film? The only way Bergens, being perpetually miserable, can feel happiness is to eat a troll and have been doing so since establishing their town around the Troll Tree. Trolls are a drug to Bergens. They are addicts. It just reminded me of one of those shitty antidrug stories that could pop up in the cartoons of my youth.
After escaping from the Bergens in the opening of the film and reestablishing their civilization, the Trolls are exceedingly positive and happy to the point of being naïve enough to think that they can return to their old ways of loud and noisy parties and celebration and not run the risk of getting caught by the creatures whom they were prisoners of for an undisclosed amount of time. This is ridiculously so and it fits in with the film as everything is ridiculous and done with a wink to the audience.
To convey the musical portion of the story they use a series of top 40 songs sung by the characters throughout the film. I do not think there is an original one in the film and that is just fine. They are all used very well and it is all very bouncy or just appropriately used stuff. Hits like “September” performed by Justin Timberlake, Anna Kendrick with the help of Earth, Wind & Fire; “The Sound of Silence” performed by Anna Kendrick, the Cindy Lauper hit “True Colors” performed by Kendrick and Timberlake – film version), “Hello” gets performed by Zooey Deschanel among a few others show up here.
I enjoyed the scenes between Bridget (voiced by Zooey Deschanel) and King Gristle Jr. (Christopher Mintz-Plasse) a little more than those between Princess Poppy (Anna Kendrick) and Branch (Justin Timberlake) even though Poppy and Branch had the better jokes. Bridget and Gristle have a better arc and the story is just cuter. Bridget is a lowly servant with a serious Cruszh on the young king.
Our central villain is Chef (Christine Baranski) who got booted from the Bergen town 20 years prior when the Trolls had escaped on Trollstice which is the celebration when Bergens eat Trolls to get happy. She plans to use the Trolls to overthrow the king and just generally get revenge.
We get a “secret” villain in the Troll Creek (Russell Brand) who espouses Zen like wisdom and puts forth a positive attitude but is really a faker, coward, and eventual traitor when he sells out everyone to Chef in an attempt to save himself. I have Russell Brand fatigue and this was a welcome development for a character he played.
Anybody else wonder where Guy Diamond’s (Kunal Nayyar) glitter comes out from? Seriously. The character wore no clothes and the shot always came when the camera was behind him and from the lower portion of the body. You get what I am getting at, right? And he was doing it with everybody on a hair fire trigger.
Now that I put that creepy thought in your head this is in total juvenile enough to satisfy children and adult enough to satisfy their parents. I like the nod to the troll toys at the very beginning. The jokes are funny and rely impart on the clueless nature of the villains having not dealt with positivity before and the diametrically opposed personalities of the two heroes.
When doing a little reading on this I learned that some characters were voiced by other actors in English speaking countries. Branch’s deceased Grandma Rosiepuff seen in a flashback was voiced by GloZell in the American release, by Dami Im in the Australian version, and Susanna Reid in the UK version. Meg DeAngelis voiced Moxie Dewdrop in the US version with Connie Glynn voicing the character in the UK version. Ricky Dillon is the voice of Aspen Heitz and English radio DJ, television presenter, narrator and author Greg James voices the character in the UK version. Kandee Johnson voices Mandy Sparkledust with Britain’s Next Top Model (cycle 2) runner up Abbey Clancy voicing the character in the UK version. I could see this happening in a non-English language version. This is just weird to see when NOT crossing a language barrier and I do not see the reasoning.
This is some of the best computer animation I have seen in a long time. Everything looks largely like it was made out of felt. They captured the cuteness of the dolls and created a fun film. The script moves quick and hilariously without sacrificing story.
Trolls is a great animated feature. You will laugh and have a good time. Watch it!