Watching the trailer to Trolls, one would imagine a certain sense of déjà vu. The happy unicorn in The Lego Movie was hilariously positive and, with such love for the character, it doesn’t take a genius to consider a film obsessed with her traits. But Trolls is much more than that.
Relentlessly, it still pushes its optimistic agenda but also delves deeper into the wider implications and the need for hope. Full of luminous colour, thumping pop tracks and laugh-out loud humour, these raving Trolls will melt your heart and leave you feeling uplifted and excited about the future.
Beginning in classic-Disney fashion, a book opens to tell the story of the Trolls and their hungry enemies, the grumpy Bergens. For a long time, the Bergens caged the trolls in their happiness tree, only opening the door once a year to celebrate “Trollstice”, when Bergens each eat a troll for a moment of glee. Twenty years ago, the Trolls escaped their jail among the Bergens and they’ve lived in peace ever since. Until a wild, off-the-hook party reveals their location and the community is once again in danger. Poppy (Anna Kendrick), the princess of the kingdom, feels responsible for the return of the Bergens and manages to convince over-protective, and endlessly sarcastic, Branch (Justin Timberlake) to help her save her friends and stop the terror of the Bergens once and for all.
Director Mike Mitchell and Walt Dohrn have learned from the best. Trolls includes Despicable-Me quirky-voiced characters, Boxtrolls-style animated villains and Pixar-quality textures to work upon. The sewn-up and soft environment of the trolls recalls the PlayStation game, Little Big Planet, whereby yarn and woollen characters bounce and stretch in all sorts of ways. The key-feature of big hair feeds into creative escape plans and dance moves, while songs such as ‘Hair Up’ (‘Move your hair and feel united”) and ‘Get Back Up Again’ (“Knock, knock me over, I will get up again”) include life-affirming, warm, fuzzy lyrics that’ll be great to sing in the car – with or without the small kids in the back.
Which leads nicely to Justin Timberlake’s song choices. Credited as executive producer for the film’s music, his influence is all over the soundtrack. The few original songs are catchy and memorable but he generally chooses well-known, guaranteed crowd pleasers. Kool and the Gangs ‘Celebration’, Lionel Richie, Simon and Garfunkel and Gorillaz all make appearances and there is a sense that surely the man who penned this year’s smash hit ‘Can’t Stop the Feeling’ could’ve created an entirely unique set list.
Crucially, none of this detracts from Trolls enormous heart. It has an outstanding cast in supporting roles between Jeffrey Tambor, Zooey Deschanel, Russell Brand and James Corden. They all add their own unique brand of charm lifting this film to even greater heights. Guy-Diamond and his robot-vocals, the constant bashing of scrap-booking and the dry sarcasm of JT cannot help but make you grin, ear-to-ear. Like The Muppets and The Lego Movie, Trolls taps into its 20-year old nostalgia and turns these cutesy, chunky toys into electronic, glitter clubbing party animals – and who would want to miss that?
This was part of the London Film Festival 2016 coverage for Culturefly