Starring: Anna Kendrick, Justin Timberlake, Zooey Deschanel, Christopher Mintz Plasse, Russell Brand, Gwen Stefani, John Cleese, James Corden, Jeffrey Tambor, Kunal Nayyar, Quevenzhane Wallis, Rhys Darby, GloZell, Grace Helbig
Directed By: Mike Mitchell
Plot: Those cute little dolls from the 90’s now have a backstory. They’re actually little creatures that are eaten by Bergens, because Bergens can only feel happiness if they eat a troll… supposedly. That changes when the trolls escape, but eventually one of the Bergens finds and captures some of the trolls, and a rescue mission ensues.
I’m abandoning my typical structure here, because I’ve sat on this for a few days. I let this film percolate in my mind, hoping to have some constructive thoughts on it. I thought I’d be able to break down and analyze it, but I don’t have a lot of thoughts. Perhaps its because this film is presented as fluff. It has no real emotional core to it, and it doesn’t really try to have one. The trolls themselves are presented as happy-all-the-time so they have no worries or problems, and even when in imminent danger, most of them don’t react normally to the situation. They sing, even when it might get them killed. The two main trolls (Kendrick/Timberlake) spend some time together, and bond, I suppose. In the end, when they’re “together”, it feels forced, because there was no real romantic push to get them there. The movie is full of pop songs, everything from True Colors to Hello. Some of them work, and feel appropriate in the moment, and some of them are just sung to fill time. I’m disappointed that Dreamworks made this, since they have such a strong track record for being able to add that emotional punch. This is more The Croods than How To Train Your Dragon. It’s not a bad film, but in an age when animation can be entertaining for adults and kids, it pains me to see a studio getting behind an overstuffed marshmallow like this. It’s sweet and gooey, and your kids will probably love it, but they’ll forget about it a day later. And I doubt you’ll love it either, because you can clearly see the difference between this, or fellow 2016 releases Zootopia, Moana, and Kubo and the Two Strings. Those films had some kind of life lesson, adult theme, or emotional punch in their core, and proved entertaining for audiences of all ages. I gave The Secret Life Of Pets a pass, because it was actually very entertaining. Trolls isn’t that entertaining. It’s just not a “bad” film. It has a ton of underdeveloped supporting characters who don’t have personality traits, but physical traits that distinguish them from the group. Some of it worked for me, but about half the film didn’t.
I feel like no one saw Dreamworks’ highly underrated Mr Peabody and Sherman, but everyone saw this, and that’s a shame. That film had a lot more to say. I don’t hate myself for having seen it, but I understand why I was underwhelemed by their marketing campaign. There’s not much to this film, so there wasn’t much to advertise. What you see is what you get.
FINAL GRADE: B-