Trolls Dazzles and That’s About it…


Poppy singing her heart out to Branch in the DreamWorks film Trolls

Manuel Ramirez, Staff Reporter

We live in an age where any existing product from video games and toys can be turned into a motion picture. A formula that has been done repeatedly with little success until Warner Bros’ The Lego Movie finally hit all the right notes. Wreck-It-Ralph and Toy Story don’t count as they are original stories that feature familiar characters in minor roles or cameos like Pac-Man and a troll doll. Speaking of troll dolls this brings us to the newest film from DreamWorks Animation Trolls. DreamWorks have made some great films like the funny and brilliant Kung Fu Panda 3 that came out earlier this year but the majority of their roster includes a menagerie of mediocre misfires that sadly remind me why Pixar make the better movies. A Pixar film will aim for all ages, where other studios like DreamWorks may keep the kiddies entertained, just don’t expect the same reaction from older audiences.

Trolls join that troupe of films like Minions and Hotel Transylvania that aren’t terrible but not great. Though to its credit, I can tell that some effort was put in this project than say the likes of Hasbro movie. Based on the popular toy line from the eighties and nineties, we follow a clan of trolls who live in harmony only to have their celebration cut short when they are captured by the brutish and gloomy Bergens who happily feast on the tiny critters. The perfectly positive Princess Poppy (Anna Kendrick) teams-up with a cynical and reluctant troll named Branch (Justin Timberlake) as they journey to the Bergen Kingdom and rescue their captured comrades.

DreamWorks does impress with its animation that it reminded me of Yoshi’s Woolly World, a videogame where everything is made of yarn, in this film its felt fabric. It’s also a musical and it does hit the right notes with its original songs, had it gone that route instead of incorporating covers it would have made it more enjoyable. And of course we can’t have a kids movie without the mandatory toilet humor, and repeat it non-stop, heck the movie begins with a character being striped naked. That alone set the tone of the type of movie I was in for. A SpongeBob SquarePants, Adventure Time and My Little Pony hybrid; nice animation that is bright and colorful, creative landscapes, imaginative creatures, dark peril, overly optimistic characters, and a story that is a bit multi-layered when looking back at it.

The characters are tolerable at first but wear out their welcome pretty quick. Poppy and Branch have some development but results in being predictable and cliché, the rest of the cast are just generic stock characters. The Bergens were surprisingly the more interesting part of the movie with a scullery maid named Bridget (Zooey Deschanel) who’s secretly in love with the Bergen Prince (Christopher Mintz-Plasse). Why couldn’t the movie be about them and having the trolls as side characters. I guess the marketing material wouldn’t be as colorful and upbeat if you replaced the smaller trolls with the bigger gloomy ones.

Unless you’re a die hard fan of the retro dolls, into colorful animation or Glee-like musicals you might like this movie. Speaking as a fan on a couple of the cartoons I mentioned earlier, I can think of few episodes that deals with the joy and importance of positivity while acknowledging not to go overboard and worth watching again.

Hang in there parents Moana is just around the corner.