Blu-ray Review: Trolls
By John Corrado
★★★ (out of 4)
Based on those classic dolls with the big hair that originated in the 1960s, DreamWorks Animation’s Trolls is a film that has enough genuine charm to work on its own terms as a highly entertaining musical.
The Trolls live a blissfully happy existence in a colourful village, with designated hug times and regular dance breaks orchestrated by the bright pink Princess Poppy (Anna Kendrick), who is the cheeriest of them all. The misanthropic Branch (Justin Timberlake) is her polar opposite, an anxious survivalist who has grown cynical and lives in the safety of an underground doomsday bunker, preparing for disaster.
And disaster does strike when their village is invaded by the Bergens, a band of dour ogres who believe their only source of happiness can come from eating the Trolls to give themselves a drug-induced high, with King Gristle (Christopher Mintz-Plasse) desperate for his first taste of Troll. When her friends are taken by the evil Chef (Christine Baranski), Poppy must team up with Branch to set out and save the others from the fate that awaits them in Bergen Town. As it turns out, the upbeat Trolls have valuable lessons to teach the depressed Bergens, including giving the shy Bridget (Zooey Deschanel) a self-esteem boost.
Although the actual story is a pretty basic Hero’s Journey, Trolls is kept entertaining thanks to likeable characters and a multitude of delightful little moments along the way. The heavy drug subtext of the film’s plot provides another layer to the film for adults to pick up on, with the DayGlo colours, singing flowers and offbeat tone often giving it the feel of an apparent acid trip. The animation is vibrant and appealing, contrasting the bright colours of the Trolls Village with the more subdued palate of Bergen Town. There is a nicely tactile feel to the characters, right down to the realistic texturing of Poppy’s felt dress, and the soft and wavy appearance of their flowing hair.
The soundtrack is populated with a solid selection of old and new pop tunes, including the irresistibly upbeat track “Can’t Stop the Feeling,” which became Justin Timberlake’s first number one hit in a decade when it was released as a single last summer, and is currently in the running for a Best Original Song Oscar. The film also features a genuinely lovely cover of “True Colors,” which functions as a wonderful duet between Justin Timberlake and Anna Kendrick, and provides the backdrop for the film’s most touching sequence in the finale.
With a heartfelt message about finding genuine happiness instead of just superficial moments, the feel good tone of Trolls is pretty undeniable. This is an entertaining and often enjoyably weird animated drug trip, filled with catchy songs and delightful voicework by Anna Kendrick and Justin Timberlake. I was amused, and the film left me with a big smile on my face, which is sometimes all that matters.
The “Party Edition” Blu-ray also includes a selection of deleted scenes with introductions by directors Walt Dohrn and Mike Mitchell, as well as the featurettes The Potion for Stop Motion, which explores the highly inventive mix of materials that were used to craft the handmade scrapbook-style scenes in the film, and a look at the overall animation process in Creating Troll Magic.
There’s also the short pieces Travel Through Troll Village and Inside the Bunker, which show different environments in the film with Cloud Guy acting as tour guide, and a bit entitled Troll 2 Troll, featuring Poppy and Branch debating “big questions.” The sparkly lettering on the cardboard slipcover is also a nice touch, all adding up to a solid and worthwhile release that is sure to delight fans.
Trolls is a 20th Century Fox Home Entertainment release. It’s 92 minutes and rated G.