Monday, November 7, 2016

Movie Review: "Trolls" (2016)

Director: Walt Dohrn & Mike Mitchell
Rating: PG
Running Time: 1 hour, 32 minutes
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The infectiously happy Princess Poppy (Anna Kendrick) teams up with a grumpy troll named Branch (Justin Timberlake) in order to save her friends from the Bergens, who can only gain happiness by eating trolls.

"Trolls" is the latest animated feature from DreamWorks animation, who brought us films like "Shrek," "Kung Fu Panda," and "How to Train Your Dragon." As one may expect, this is a movie about Trolls, and no, we don't mean those losers on internet chatrooms, forums, and social media who gain some distorted sense of pleasure by trying to make people's lives as miserable as theirs. This is a movie about magical little creatures who spend their lives being endlessly happy and bringing joy and singing and hugging and dancing all the live long day. It was inspired by the Good Luck Troll dolls created by Thomas Dam, the ones you may have had as kids. It tells the tale of the aforementioned happy trolls and the miserable, unhappy Bergens. The only time a Bergen ever feels happiness is when they eat trolls, so once a year, the Bergens have a holiday where they all gather around the troll tree during the Bergen Christmas-like holiday called Trollstice. On one such occasion, the trolls escaped from the Bergens and went into hiding, but after 20 years of freedom, they get careless, party too loud, and get caught. Now, Princess Poppy must team up with the only unhappy troll in the bunch, a doomsday prepper named Branch, to go rescue her captured friends.

This film is a musical and utilizes the voice talents of Anna Kendrick and Justin Timberlake, who play the aforementioned Poppy and Branch, as well as Zooey Deschanel, Christine Baranski, James Corden, Christopher Mintz-Plasse, Russell Brand, Ron Funches, Jeffrey Tambor, Gwen Stefani, and John Cleese. Though there are a few accomplished singers in the bunch, it's Kendrick, Deschanel, and Timberlake who lead most of the songs, which are comprised of a mix of pop covers by the actors, songs sung by the artist who made them, and original music. The voice over work done in this film is quite perfect. Many hilarious actors like Funches, Brand, Corden, and Rhys Darby have voices that fit well into their perspective characters.

We have to admit, the trailers for this film looked really, really stupid. We are all for kids movies, but when it comes to blatant cash grabs, ones that clearly market off of an already established franchise or toy, like this year's "The Angry Birds Movie," our perception may not be that great because we know why movies like it exist. Luckily, "Trolls" is a lot of fun with a cool animation style featuring a lot of textured looking movement. Many of the characters, objects, and backgrounds look like felt, yarn, and cotton. Even the trolls themselves have this sort of fuzzy muppet quality to them. We really like it when animation stands out like this apart from the flat types of visuals we get from other kids movies, like this year's "Ratchet & Clank." There is a lot of humor here, most of which hits its intended mark, even when it ventures into juvenile territory, including a troll that farts glitter and a troll that poops cupcakes. At its core, the movie has a great message for kids and adults alike about finding happiness inside yourself and in relationships with others. This sentiment is not something that can simply be ingested, though Pfizer and Papa Johns may disagree with us on that statement.

The story might be super simple and nothing revolutionary or new in the slightest, but you'd have to be terribly cynical and have quite the hard heart not to find at least some enjoyment in the color-blasted, hug-infested, sing-songy DreamWorks feature "Trolls." It has some perfectly fitting voice acting and can be a whole lot of fun, even if you don't have kids sitting next to you.

My Rating: 7/10
BigJ's Rating: 7/10
IMDB's Rating: ~6.7/10
Rotten Tomatoes Rating: 74%
Do we recommend this movie: Sure, why not?

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