This post is the unedited copy of the review published in Mag the Weekly on Friday, 18th of November 2016. Published copy will be updated at the end of the post.
Trolls: Singing, Dancing, Much Romancin’…Oh, erm…
By Farheen Jawaid
The creepy looking dolls that made a splash on the pop-culture from the 60s till 90s got a movie of their own – and that just shows how marketing and sales can make one do most anything they want, besides making it a big hit, which is something only a select few from the industry can do. Bless commercialism.
Trolls comes at a time when people are looking for a clean-cut fluff movie. That in itself can do wonders. The product here is so light, airy and colorful, without much originality in it to make you lose focus. The only thing to pay attention to is its vibrancy and the power to keep the little ones glued to their seats with unending silliness that has close to no logic and popular songs bobbing up, while you daydream away your worries. 93 minutes is just the right amount of time to lose oneself to the feeling.
Trolls starts with a background story: with their trademarked bright hair that stand on their head in perpetual fluffy surprise, the Trolls are a happy go lucky species of miniature size who are big on partying, music and hugs. However, things aren’t that rosy. Besides all the joy-making, they are quite low in the food chain, as shown in the song “Get Back Up Again”, where almost all of the forest creatures can make a meal out of a lone troll. Their arch-nemesis are the Bergen who look like ogres with bad teeth and bad skin to boot. The Bergen live miserable lives without fun and peppy music, so to fill that gap and sadness they eat trolls for happiness in a special holiday called the Trollstice.
The leader of the Trolls, King Peppy (Jeffrey Tambor), while repeating the motto “No Troll Left Behind”, escapes from the Bergen’s clutches and makes a home far in the forest. Twenty year later, Trolls are now ruled by Poppy (Anna Kendrick), King Peppy’s daughter. The comfort of their freedom have slacked their defenses, while their partying becomes more diligent. For any wise person that would spell danger, but only one Troll, Branch (Justin Timberlake), calls it out; Branch, who doesn’t like singing, hugs and partying, is a grey Troll who is out for survival with his panic button always turned on. With this set up no cookie points for guessing what ensues.
Directors Mike Mitchell and debutant Walt Dohrn, both with extensive experience in animation, paced the movie with brisk bright tempos but lacked in their story department (the story is by Erica Rivinoja, screenplay by Jonathan Aibel Glenn Berger); there are too many unoriginal ideas slapped with too many old reworked songs by music executive producer Timberlake. While the songs are done beautifully, it lacked a charm that original songs bring, like old Disney classics use to do once, and have recently done in Frozen. However, a sensitive rendition of Cyndi Lauper‘s “True Colors” sung by Timberlake and Kendrick peek the moment in the Trolls. But that’s as far as it can go.