Where does happiness come from? That's the question at the heart of Trolls, a 3-D feature ablaze with neon color and good cheer from DreamWorks Animation.
It's a simple, super-sugary confection meant to be served to young moviegoers. If you're over the age of 6 there's not much for you here unless you're a fan of the weird little dolls with outrageous hair that were the must-have toys of the 1960s, or you're enamored of the music of Justin Timberlake. (Admitting to either of these passions is a purely personal choice.)
84 Cast: Animated with voices of Anna Kendrick, Justin Timberlake, Russell Brand, Zooey Deschanel, Jeffrey Tambor, James Corden, Christine Baranski, John Cleese, Gwen Stefani, Quvenzhane Wallis
Directors: Mike Mitchell, Walt Dohrn
Running time: 1 hour, 32 minutes
Timberlake (the film's executive music producer) provides the voice of a grim gray troll named Branch, the only dour member of a lively tribe led by Poppy (voice of Anna Kendrick), the bubbly and beloved princess of the trolls. These tiny multihued characters are in constant high spirits; they sing (cheesy pop songs), dance (disco is big), and hug one another with alarming regularity. Except for Branch, who wants no part of such tomfoolery.
As the film opens, the trolls are planning an epic celebration. Seems that 20 years ago when Poppy was a tot, her dad, King Peppy (voice of Jeffrey Tambor), pulled off a brave and brilliant escape that saved the lot of them from being snacks for a grumpy gang of monstrous miscreants known as Bergens. See, Bergens think the only source of happiness is eating trolls. Too bad they haven't been able to do so for two decades because, thanks to King Peppy, they can't find the wily critters.
Branch frets that a big noisy party will clue the Bergens in to the location of their lair. This idea is pooh-poohed by Poppy. But it turns out that Branch is right. The trolls' haven is invaded, prisoners are taken, and the Bergens' young King Gristle (voice of Christopher Mintz-Plasse), who has never known a moment of happiness in his life, is buoyed by the anticipation of gulping down a morsel of joy to be presented to him by his scheming Chef (voice of Christine Baranski).
Turns out, though, that Princess Poppy inherited her dad's grit. And she's intent on reviving King Peppy's battle cry of 20 years ago: No troll left behind. She's so persuasive that even Branch gets off his high horse of I-told-you-so and pitches in on Poppy's efforts to rescue the captive trolls. He even starts singing, an art form he'd given up long ago.
Because the story is so basic -- friendship, fun, and empathy -- youthful audience members won't be left behind either (not always the case in some of Pixar's sophisticated animated films). The humor here is mostly visual, relying on the trolls' goofy methods of mobility, pratfalls, and use of their bushy hair as an expandable appendage.
Witty wordplay won't come to the rescue of adults who find their attention wandering. But they may appreciate the psychedelic patterns that vibrate in 3-D across the screen in perfect time to songs like Gorillaz' "Clint Eastwood," which complements the film with its Trolls-like philosophy: I ain't happy, I'm feeling glad/I got sunshine in a bag/I'm useless, but not for long/the future is coming on.
MovieStyle on 11/04/2016
Print Headline: Trolls