Saturday, 22 October 2016
Review: DreamWork's 'Trolls' is a Flawed But Charming Movie
Trolls is DreamWorks Animation's CGI take on the troll dolls (aka good luck trolls), a toy brand created in 1959. Trolls made brief appearances in the Toy Story movies, but here they are given their own musical, with Anna Kendrick and Justin Timberlake starring, and Mike Mitchell (Shrek Forever After) and Walt Dohrn directing. Read our spoiler-free review to find out how well the film works.
As it turns out, the film is very loosely based on the toys it took its inspiration from; beyond a vague likeness, the iconic colored hair and a cameo of the dolls, there's nothing linking Trolls to the brand. The story is really a fantasy mixed with a fun musical. In it, the Bergens - big and atrocious monsters - think that eating the delicious trolls is the only thing that can bring them happiness.
When her best friends get captured by one of the Bergens, Princess Poppy (Kendrick) decides to go to Bergen Town to save them. She manages to enlist paranoid troll Branch (Timberlake) on this perilous journey.
Trolls is a very flawed film. The character design goes from cute to awful (granted, the Bergens are meant to look bad and this is kind of the point, but still…), the plot is kind of all-over-the-place, with twists that pop out of nowhere and secondary characters who suddenly become main players in the story.
And yet, it is kind of good. There's an energy to Trolls that makes it very hard to dislike. The world created around the trolls is inventive, colourful and full of weird/crazy life; the pace rarely slows down and the jokes are sometimes very funny - the Cloud Guy scene being a priceless example of that.
Where the movie really shines though is in the musical segments. Trolls reprises some famous songs (Simon & Garfunkel's The Sound of Silence, Lionel Richie's Hello, Cyndi Lauper's True Colors…) and does it pretty well, though the best musical moment might just be an original song - Get Back Up Again - where Poppy miraculously escapes death time after time while singing that everything is okay. It's all silly, but good fun.
The unstoppable optimism in Poppy's character is pretty nicely balanced with the cynical behaviour from Branch, and the duo is a really enjoyable one - not unlike the relationship Joy has with Sadness in Inside Out. In the end, it takes a bit of everything.
Among the generic-meh-mediocre-okay CGI films we've had these past months (Storks, The Secret Life of Pets, Angry Birds…), Trolls is probably the most pleasant one. It's a long shot from being perfect, and far from even competing with the best animated films of this year, but it's charming, has a decent story and wonderful production design. Things could have been much worse.