Directed by Mike Mitchell and Wat Dohrn.
Featuring the voice talents of Anna Kendrick, Justin Timberlake, Zooey Deschanel, Kunal Nayyar, Ron Funches, Icona Pop, Gwen Stefani, Jeffrey Tambor, Christopher Mintz-Plasse, Christine Baranski, James Corden and Russell Brand.
Troll Princess Poppy must save her friends from the evil Bergen Chef with the help of the only grumpy, non-singing or dancing Troll branch.
Since the rousing success that was The LEGO Movie, which was probably my favourite film of 2014, studios are starting to get right the film based on the toy especially in the world of animation. Trolls is a good but not great addition to this new line of successes.
Based on the toys with the long hair that have been popular in spells since the 60’s, enjoying quite the hipster renaissance in recent years amongst millennials, Trolls follows the tale of these happy, dancing and singing creatures as they escape from the Bergen – miserable large creatures who eat the Trolls so they can feel happy. When celebrating the 20 years after their escape the evil Bergen Chef finds the Trolls new hiding place and kidnaps as many as she can. Princess Poppy (Anna Kendrick) endeavours to save her kidnapped friends with the unwilling help of Branch (Justin Timberlake) a shut-in loner Troll who lives in constant fear of the Bergen.
The animators did an incredible job creating a world as vivid and colourful as any child’s imagination could take them to with the lights, dancing and the big musical set pieces being beautiful (especially in IMAX). The animators did an equally good job in juxtaposing the striking colour of the Trolls against the dark browns, grey and greens in the world of the Bergen. The Bergen themselves are definitely nasty looking without being too terrifying for the smaller audience members. The scrapbooking animation element is very reminiscent of some of The LEGO Movie planning scenes but work just as well here with their own style and flair.
The voice cast are well fitting although some of the bigger names amongst the Trolls like Gwen Stefani, James Corden and Russell Brand are more names to fill out the posters as opposed to having true big parts. That said Kendrick brings a true giddiness and sprite like enthusiasm to the Princess Poppy while Timberlake’s dour and sarcastic Branch is played to perfection by Timberlake, creating a great odd couple dynamic between the leads.
The music (with Timberlake acting as executive producer) does stand out with the combination of original songs and takes on various existing songs utilising the voice talents of the leads exceptionally well, though a stand out performance of Lionel Richie’s “Hello” by the scullery maid Bergen Bridget (Zooey Deschanel) truly stole the show amongst a host of highly upbeat tracks.
The only shame is that such a vibrant, colourful film is supported by such a paint by numbers plot with painfully few total crowd pleasing jokes relying too much on funny voices and exaggerated expression. The writer’s haven’t done enough of the jokes we’ve now come to expect in our animation which whilst still making the kids laugh, fly just above their heads and give all the parents in the room a good chuckle. This is especially sinful when you consider the comedic talents of the cast.
It’s possible that my expectations were too high going into this, with such an excellent cast and what was effectively a blank canvas to work with in terms of the Trolls themselves I was hoping for something on the level of a Shrek or The LEGO Movie both of which changed the game in what animation movies could be and do in terms of their story whilst still definitely being kids films. Trolls is undoubtedly a good animation, with some genuinely funny and touching moments yet does not quite hit the heights of its peers in spite of its excellent music and high quality world building.
Flickering Myth Rating – Film: ★ ★ / Movie: ★ ★ ★ ★