Movie Review – Trolls
Director : Mike Mitchell + Walt Dohrn
Year Of Release : 2016
Principal Cast : Voices of Anna Kendrick, Justin Timberlake, Zooey Deschanel, Christopher Mintz-Plasse, Christine Baranski, Russell Brand, James Cordon, Gwen Stefani, Jeffrey Tambor, Ron Funches, Icona Pop, Kunal Nayyar, Quevenzhane Wallis, John Cleese, GloZell, Walt Dohrn.
Approx Running Time : 93 Minutes
Synopsis: After the Bergens invade Troll Village, Poppy, the happiest Troll ever born, and the curmudgeonly Branch set off on a journey to rescue her friends.
If, unlike me, you made it through the entirety of Trolls without getting a migraine, then all the power to you. Appropriating the beloved 60’s doll craze with an eye-watering colour palette and a blend of cringeworthy pop-song covers, this bizarre mix of fantasy, adventure and hysterically inane character development is like swallowing a spoonful of sugar mixed with a half-cup of popping candy and an entire packet of Fizz Whizz. Aimed squarely at the juvenile brigade of children too young to remember this concept at its zenith, who will no doubt have to Google what the hell it’s all about, Trolls‘ colour-coordinated, auto-tuned narrative and blisteringly obtuse comedic stylings, to say nothing of a wasted top-tier voice cast, will delight those under 10 but aggravate the hell out of any adult within earshot.
20 years ago, King Peppy (Jeffrey Tambor) saves the entire Troll population from being devoured by the monstrous Bergens, creatures of such hideous nature they eat the tiny creatures to “feel happy”. Now, the King’s daughter, Princess Poppy, an energetic and ingratiatingly upbeat Troll wants to hold the party to end all parties in celebration of their salvation; the party inadvertently attracts the attention of the banished Bergen chef (Jeffery Tambor’s Grinch so-star Christine Baranski), who wants to capture the tiny creatures and worm her way back into the good graces of Prince Gristle (Christopher Mintz-Plasse), the leader of the Bergens. When the Chef kidnaps several of her Troll friends, Poppy and happiness-hating Branch (Justin Timberlake) venture to the Bergen city to undertake a daring rescue operation.
Dear Lord, this film is obnoxious. It’s also obviously designed to capitalise on adults’ fond reminiscence of their childhood Troll Doll toys – similarly to the way Angry Birds aimed at fans of a once-popular phone app, and the upcoming Emoji Movie is aimed at people with significant brain injuries. Capitalist leanings aside, there’s little to enjoy with Trolls‘ all-singing, all-happy “dialogue”, as closely resembling a Smurfs analogy as you can get (with Christine Baranski’s odious Chef approximating Gargamel) without actually being the Smurfs.
Dreamworks Animation’s constant search for a post-Shrek mega-hit won’t even pause for the result of this film’s mandate to ingratiate itself into your child’s multi-repeat repertoire, for it will surely be forgotten the instant it’s watched. A film so destitute in compelling, memorable or evocative characters, so devoid of the thing it most closely associates – happiness – and so bereft of charm or even likeability, Trolls’ most aggravating feature is not so much it’s hideous appropriation of popular culture, or it’s grating post-modern humour, or even the abuse of having Anna Kendrick voice a character to utterly unlikable, but the fact that it outright misses every mark it aims for by a wide, wide margin.
I’m not saying a film designed by committee and focus-grouped into the very pinnacle of bedazzlement for people under five shouldn’t be entertaining for that age bracket, but as a discerning adult hoping I’d enjoy watching this more than once with my kids on home rotation, Trolls is like a blister you’ve torn off leaving pulsating flesh beneath. Painful, at times to the detriment of one’s eyesight, and skewed towards the kind of people who find cheese sandwiches the highlight of their week’s menu, bland characters and a generic, simplistic story are hidden (badly) behind a veil of over-saturated colour and hack-slash editing, and the voice cast are wasted on triviality rather than carefully developed, believably emotive digital creations.
The only way a film as commercially vacuous as this could be beaten would be if Hollywood decided to release Ikea: The Movie before Trump kills us all. Trolls is asinine entertainment offering scant moral lessons that, if visible, have been done better, elsewhere. Tempestuous editorial decisions and energetic animation will keep the tots in thrall for the 90-odd minutes it runs for, but like any good sugar rush the feeling of euphoric joy they get watching it will dissipate faster than praise for a Michael Bay film. Half the musical choices in this film will fly over the heads of the target audience, bored adults will have long given up hope, and this film’s existence will have long drifted to the same place as Shark Tale, Angry Birds, and those inexplicably successful Madagascar movies. Please, avoid Trolls.
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