Jacqueline Gualtieri ’17 / Emertainment Monthly Staff Writer
Over the past few years, there’s been a rise in animated movies that show that the genre is not just for children. Kubo and the Two Strings was a beautiful, meaningful, and critically-acclaimed film that was actually perhaps a little too dark for most kids. The Book of Life was bright and vibrant, with storytelling the whole family could enjoy. If you are looking to add Trolls to that list, you will, unfortunately, be disappointed. But, if you go in with the understanding that this movie is strictly a kids movie, you might realize it’s pretty well done.
The movie immediate sets the backstory with Princess Poppy (Anna Kendrick) acting as the narrator. She tells the story of the Trolls, who dance and sing and hug all day long and live in happiness, and the Bergens, who live in misery and come to believe that their only chance at happiness is eating the Trolls. But the Trolls are able to escape, and, twenty years later, they live happily and without fear, until the day the Bergen Chef (Christine Baranski) arrives and kidnaps Poppy’s friends. Not being satisfied with letting her friends go while the other Trolls escape, Poppy sets out to save them, asking the grumpy, colorless Branch (Justin Timberlake) to help her, since he has studied the Bergens. He reluctantly joins her, but only to constantly put her down and try to get her to stop singing.
The animation is well done, nothing that seems too revolutionary, but at least the animation is up with the times. However, the 3D effects are pretty useless, if the filmmakers had skipped making Trolls in 3D, it would have saved some headaches.
The other headache, though, came from the fact that the film reeked of the desperate need to stay relevant. The Troll dolls are old fashioned toys. They came out in 1959. They aren’t really as popular today as they used to be and the screenwriters seem to know that, which explains the use of hit music instead of writing their own songs and the gratuitous use of “OMG” and “YOLO.” It was a bit cringeworthy, sort of like listening to your grandma say “YOLO,” but she has no idea what it means. There were original songs, which stood out as superior to the messy mash-ups of new and classic hits. “True Colors” was the only exception to that because of the way that it was smartly used in the film. It’s not just a random dance break like the other songs are used. Instead, it’s a pivotal moment in the film when Branch finds his voice and helps Poppy find her “true colors” again when she goes gray.
The best character in the film was surprisingly not a Troll at all. Bridget (Zooey Deschanel) is a Bergen who actually does sing—and beautifully, in comparison the other Bergens who just kind of moan when they sing. She has real feelings, even though the Bergens say that they have none. She is in love with King Gristle (Christopher Mintz-Plasse) but doesn’t think that she’ll ever be with him because she’s a scullery maid. Poppy agrees to help her get a date with the king if Bridget will help them get her friends back, and Bridget begins to come into her own. By the end of the movie, it’s clear who the real hero of the story is, and that’s Bridget. Once scared of everything and believing herself to be useless and ugly, she realizes that she is capable of happiness, without eating a Troll.
Trolls has a simple plot, which works since it’s easy for kids to follow but, more importantly, it delivers a simple message that children should learn, just like the Bergens had to learn. Happiness is inside everyone, but people need to find it in themselves. It cannot just be put into them. They need to be willing to search for it.
It’s a feel-good film that doesn’t try to be anything more than a good children’s movie—save for one tasteless, but thankfully subtle, sexual joke. There’s a lot of movies out that parents worry about taking their kids to, but this one shouldn’t be among them. It’s a friendly film, with a cute love story, that is sure to be a favorite for children.
Overall Grade: B
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