Trolls (2016) Movie Review: A Mediocre Dreamworks Entry

By: Reel 127 (Three Beers) –

This movie has been a back forth for me. After the very first teaser trailer came out I was largely uninterested. I had about the same reaction as I did to the trailer for SING. Which was, “How the hell did they get so many big names for this movie?” I mostly forgot this movie existed until Comic Con International this year where by some miracle I stumbled into Hall H and the first panel of the day was for Trolls. After seeing a bit more of the movie it didn’t look like a terrible write-off like I thought it would be.

Trolls is based on the toys of the same name. At a celebration for escaping Bergens who would eat the Trolls so they could feel happy, a Bergen shows up and takes several Trolls back to Bergen Town. It is up to Poppy (Anna Kendrick), the future queen of the Trolls, and Branch (Justin Timberlake), the only Troll who doesn’t sing and dance, to save the kidnapped Trolls. But they have to hurry before their friends are eaten by the Bergens.

A Toast

The animation is really good for this. Dreamworks continues to grow as an animation studio with this movie. The textures used for characters and objects help give extra life to it all. You can practically imagine how things in the movie would feel if you touched them. I also have to commend the writers for their world building. Though there are a few things I question about it, I was impressed by how much of the world was fleshed out. Especially since the original Troll Dolls had almost no lore if I remember correctly. It shows that the makers were really passionate about the film they were doing rather than simply trying to make money off an established concept.

the_lego_movie_poster

Kind of like that other movie based on a toy line.

Beer Two

Dreamworks pandering, the thing that holds it back from being a great studio like Disney or Pixar. The reason everyone liked How to Train Your Dragon was because of how little pandering at being modern and hip there was in the movie. But ever since Shrek, Dreamworks had more or less lowered its standards in hopes of being an edgier version of Disney. Trolls does a better job at not pandering unlike something like Madagascar, but there is still some undeniable pandering in this movie. Like having a roller rink and arcade in Bergen Town. Not to mention all of the pop songs they sing (and for some reason “The Sound of Silence”). The worst part is that the original songs for this were catchy and fun. If they had just spent more time and made it all original songs then it would have strengthened the film.

trolls-cast

Plus like 80% of your cast is known for singing,

and you wasted it on cover songs.

Beer Three

Their aging system makes no damn sense. At the start of the movie Poppy is essentially a baby with limited vocabulary and after twenty years she seems like she has aged the right amount. Yet her father (voiced by Jeffrey Tambor) looks like he aged forty years. As well, Prince Gristle (Christopher Mintz Plasse) of the Bergens and Bridget (Zooey Deschanel) looked like they were about five years old in the beginning of the movie, and after the twenty years skip they appear to be ten. But in that time Prince Gristle’s father dies so it doesn’t seem to be that Bergens age slower than Trolls. If someone could explain this to me then I would love that, but it bugged the hell out of me when I watched this movie. Honestly, if they had gotten rid of the opening scene it probably could have avoided this confusion and not made a drastic change in the storytelling.

bergens

Pictured: Bergen twentysomethings.

Verdict

Trolls is a solid movie that parents won’t mind watching with their children, but it ultimately lacks an artistic statement. This film might get some recognition around awards season, but I doubt it has the strength to go for an Oscar nomination. The pretty colors and music make Trolls look like a good stoner or drinking movie. The best I can sum it up is that I would definitely watch this movie ten more times than suffer through Minions again!

3beers

Trolls (2016) Drinking Game

Do a Shot: for when the actual Troll Dolls make an appearance (like three minutes in).

Take a Drink: for every time a troll’s hair becomes a “deus ex machina” device.

Take a Drink: for every song you recognize.

Finish Your Drink: when that song you already know all the words to (“Can’t Stop the Feeling”) plays at the end.

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