Just like Timberlake’s toe-tapping tune, it’s hard not to smile when watching Trolls, a sweet and humorous take on the pursuit of happiness.
The film, from the creators of Shrek, introduces us to the wonderful world of colorful, perpetually peppy trolls. These are not the scary, gargoyle trolls usually reserved for Halloween fright fests (See: Boxtrolls). These are warm and fuzzy creatures who constantly dance and sing and squirt glitter from their pores … literally. Enter the antagonists: The Bergens, the unhappiest beings on the planet, who can only be happy eating yummy trolls.
The yummiest of these is Poppy (voice of Anna Kendrick), the daughter of King Peppy (Jeffrey Tambor), who is full of positivity. She sets out to create the most bombastic, fantastic fiesta to celebrate the 20-year anniversary of her father’s brave actions to save the trolls from the hands of the Bergens.
The polar opposite in temperament in Troll land is Branch (voice of Timberlake), the droll troll and party pooper of the bunch. He’s the boy who cried Bergen every time he heard a twig snap.
When the banished Bergen named Chef (Christine Baranski, making her animated feature debut) hears the party getting started at the Troll hideout, she invades their sanctuary and snatches several morsels of Trolls to present to the boy Bergen King, Gristle Jr. (Christopher Mintz-Plasse) in order to win her place back at the table.
The mismatched duo of Poppy and Branch must set off on a mission to save their friends and all of Trolldom.
Timberlake plays double-duty in the film as a character as well as executive music producer. His creative influence is felt throughout the film with bold arrangements that include a mash-up of Move Your Feet, D.A.N.C.E. and It’s a Sunshine Day. Also, there are some unexpected pop song references that play well with the plotline, including a terrific rendition of Lionel Richie’s ballad Hello sung by the lovelorn scullery maid Bridget (Zooey Deschanel).
Using music to further a film’s narrative isn’t a new concept. However, Trolls provides a strong, musically gifted cast to back up the premise, which allows for seamless transitions from one number to the next.
As for the plot, younger children maybe squeamish at the thought of their rainbow-bright rescuers possibly being eaten by those dastardly Bergens. Fear not, parents. Spoiler alert: Timberlake’s catchy summer tune closes out the film, which can only mean all that’s left is to dance, dance, dance.
☆☆☆1/2 (out of five)
Rated: PG (for some mild rude humor)
Running time: 100 min.