Running time 1hr 32mins
LAST week, we reviewed Storks and said that it was at risk of being overshadowed by the Dreamworks marketing machine that’s been aggressively pushing animated competitor Trolls. So this week, it’s only fair we look at its CGI rival.
Making the most of Justin Timberlake’s involvement, Trolls is an animated musical featuring a soundtrack of cover versions and original songs, some of which are written and performed by the
former NSync member. He also picks up executive music producer duties. On top of that, he lends his speaking voice to the character of Branch, a grey troll who seems less happy than other trolls – colourful creatures renowned for their positive outlook. So much so, in fact, that a much larger, uglier and downright miserable species known as Bergens want a slice of the trolls’ happiness. The Bergens believe that eating trolls is the way to a sunnier disposition, and they hold an annual festival, named Trollstice, to celebrate – its centrepiece a ritual where all the Bergens feast on captured trolls.
One year, the trolls escape and go into hiding. They live together in harmony for several years until the day they’re rediscovered by the ruthless, banished Bergen, Chef (Christine Baranski). Can the gutsy Princess Poppy (Anna Kendrick) save her kind from certain death? This is a children’s film, so that’s highly likely.
As a kids’ film, Trolls is very squarely aimed at the younger members of its audience, without
too much consideration for accompanying adults. Borrowing heavily from The Smurfs and also Care Bears, it’s cutesy and reliant on simple characters. Punctuated by musical interludes helping to take the edge off any otherwise boring sequences, little ones with short attention spans are kept entertained despite an eclectic and slightly odd mix of saccharine cover versions and original music. Cover versions include warbled renditions of Cyndi Lauper’s True Colors, The Notorious B.I.G.’s Mo Money Mo Problems, Lionel Richie’s Hello and Simon and Garfunkel’s The Sound of Silence. Where Storks has the super-cool All She Was by Talking Heads on its soundtrack, Trolls has a twee cover of September by Earth, Wind and Fire, and therein lies the difference.
Perhaps the best sequence in the entire film, however, occurs in song and an amusing downbeat cover of Clint Eastwood by Gorillaz. Boosted by a very talented voice cast that includes Zooey Deschanel, Jeffrey Tambor and Christopher Mintz-Plasse, alongside British funnymen James Corden, Russell Brand and John Cleese, Trolls is likely to be enjoyed by the same audience that loved Frozen. It might not be clever, but it’s enough for little ones.