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Blu-ray Review: Trolls World Tour

July 7, 2020

By John Corrado

★★★ (out of 4)

The movie that changed the world when it bypassed theatres and went straight to video on demand earlier this year, Trolls World Tour is now arriving on Blu-ray this week in a special Dance Party Edition.

The DreamWorks Animation sequel was all set to have a traditional theatrical rollout in April, but then COVID-19 happened and the theatres closed. So instead of pushing the film to a later release date, distributor Universal made the decision to release it straight to VOD for premium rentals.

The film was massively successful when it was released to homes over Easter weekend, becoming the biggest digital debut of all time and sending shockwaves through a film industry that has held steadfast to the theatrical window of roughly ninety days for ages now.

I say this all not only because it is interesting background information on Trolls World Tour that elevates the animated sequel into being a cool footnote in film history, but because the film’s success is indicative of its power to provide feel good entertainment to people looking for an escape in these trying times. Following in the footsteps of its successful 2016 predecessor, this is a fun, brightly coloured movie that features appealing characters and a good soundtrack, as well as a surprisingly resonant message about the importance of embracing our differences instead of simply trying to ignore them.

The story begins with the peppy and optimistic Queen Poppy (Anna Kendrick) and her more cautious friend Branch (Justin Timberlake) discovering that they are actually part of a much larger kingdom made up of six distinct lands, with each of them having their own unique tribe of trolls and their own music. Each tribe has their own special string representing a different type of music (pop, rock, techno, funk, classical and country), back from when all of the tribes used to live in harmony.

But Queen Barb (Rachel Bloom), from the Mad Max-inspired land of the Rock Trolls, wants to control the entire Troll universe by collecting the six strings, putting them together and playing a power chord to abolish all other types of music so hard rock can reign supreme. She has her sights set on conquering the Pop Trolls next, which sends Poppy and Branch out on a journey to save their kingdom. At first, Poppy thinks that Barb simply wants to be friends and have a big party. But as she comes to realize that this isn’t the case, her own view of pop being the only valid type of music also gets challenged.

The main message of Trolls Worlds Tour, which is essentially that different types of music represent different cultures and that it’s important to embrace different kinds of music and not just one because they all influence each other, is an important and actually very clever one. The movie goes way beyond offering a simplistic “differences don’t matter” message, which Poppy asserts early on, to say that, yes, “differences DO matter,” as Branch states later in the film, because they are what make us unique.

“Denying our differences is denying the truth of who we are,” a character says at one point, and this is actually a really important message to have right now. This is portrayed quite nicely through the allegory of different musical genres being allowed to exist alongside each other, and beyond the six main tribes, there are also K-Pop Trolls, Reggaeton Trolls and Yodelling Trolls, all of whom are fighting to be recognized with their own land.

On a deeper level, Trolls World Tour is essentially about what happens when one type of music (or culture) tries to suppress and take over all other styles of music (or cultures). The message is not that one is inherently “better,” but rather a powerful rebuttal to this very view, which is initially shared by both its protagonist, who loves pop and sees it as the superior form of music, as well as its antagonist, who views pop music as being inherently inferior to rock.

Barb wants music to sound brooding and angry. In Poppy’s mind, music is supposed to be upbeat and make you want to dance. For example, Poppy is confused when she hears a melancholic song performed by Delta Dawn (Kelly Clarkson) of the Country Trolls. Poppy responds in kind, leading to an amusing sequence wherein she performs a medley of what she considers to be the most important songs of all time, including “Wannabe,” “Who Let the Dogs Out” and “Gangnam Style.”

Director Walt Dohrn, co-director on the first film, does a fine job of balancing this message with the sillier and more trippy elements that we can expect from a Trolls movie. Like in the first one, there is a lot of fun interplay between Poppy and Branch, whose own differences nicely play into the plot, with Kendrick and Timberlake once again delivering a pair of very appealing vocal performances. There is a lot of visual appeal in the design of the different Troll worlds, with vibrant backgrounds that look like they were made out of physical materials like yarn, felt and other fabrics.

While Trolls World Tour doesn’t surpass its predecessor, it’s an entertaining sequel that does a fine job of building upon it. The film works as a fun jukebox musical, offering some reimaginings of classic songs (i.e., “Trolls Just Wanna Have Fun”), while also going beyond being a simple celebration of pop to offer a good message about the important role that all types of music play in terms of allowing us to express ourselves. This message, in and of itself, is something worth dancing to.

The Blu-ray also allows you to watch the film in a special Dance Party mode, featuring on-screen lyrics, prompts to get up and dance, and other pop-up surprises. Additionally, the bonus features include the new short Tiny Diamond Goes to School; a Trolls Dance Academy featuring brief video tutorials on six different types of dance (Pop, Waltz, Country, Funk, K-Pop, Reggaeton); and Trolls World Tourist Map, an interactive map of the six different territories.

This is followed by seven deleted scenes (Cooper’s Destiny, Let’s Go Save the World, Bicycle Built for Two, Breaktime, Meet the Bounty Hunters, Making New Friends, and Cloud 9) which feature intros by Dohrn, co-director David P. Smith and producer Gina Shay; Trolls Perfect Harmony, which looks at the film’s special musical guests including Anderson .Paak, Ozzy Osbourne, George Clinton and Mary J. Blige; and the three-part featurette Trolls World Tour Backstage (Opening Act, Headliners, and Encore!). Finally, the disc features a commentary track with Dohrn, Smith and Shay.

Trolls World Tour is a Universal Pictures Home Entertainment release. It’s 91 minutes and rated G.

Street Date: July 7th, 2020

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