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  • Jared Huizenga

'Trolls' an Unexpected Source of Fun

Back in the '90s, two trolls called my bedroom their home. There was one on the shelf, wearing some sort of sports jersey. The other lived in my desk … with a pencil lodged in his posterior.

If you'd told me at that time – or really any time since then – that trolls like those would become the basis for a movie, I would've laughed at you. If you elaborated on that and told me that movie would be good, I'd have been concerned for your mental well-being.

But, we're here at the end of 2016 and DreamWorks Animation has brought us the very fun, very entertaining “Trolls.”


The overly cautious troll, Branch (right, voiced by Justin Timberlake), shows off his fear bunker to optimistic troll, Poppy (voiced by Anna Kendrick), in DreamWorks Animation’s ‘Trolls.’ (Photo courtesy of DreamWorks Animation.)


Trolls are a rather happy clan. The really like singing and dancing. In fact, the only thing they seem to enjoy more is hugging, which they do every hour on the hour. That perpetual state of happiness eventually comes with a cost.

The Bergens are as unhappy as trolls are happy and they discover that the bite-sized trolls are not only delicious, but they're the only things that can bring a smile to a Bergen's face. So, they decide to keep the trolls captive and once a year feast on them. Until one year when King Peppy (Jeffrey Tambor) leads his fellow Trolls on a daring escape.

For years the Trolls live without fear of Bergen attacks and grow so comfortable in their perceived safety that they throw huge, loud parties and elaborate celebrations. The primary party planner is the king's daughter, Poppy (Anna Kendrick).

The only Troll that doesn't believe in their safety or in the parties they throw is Branch (Justin Timberlake), who could just as well be called “Doomsday Prepper Troll.” Branch's biggest fears are confirmed when Poppy's party draws the attention of a Bergen and several Trolls are kidnapped.

Poppy – and a very reluctant Branch – must now make their way back to their former home to save their friends, while simultaneously keeping themselves alive and trying to play matchmakers for a Bergen scullery maid named Bridget (Zooey Deschanel), who has fallen in love with the young Bergen King Gristle (Christopher Mintz-Plasse).


Young Bergen King Gristle (voiced by Christopher Mintz-Plasse) is smitten by the newly made over Bergen scullery maid, Bridget (voiced by Zoey Deschanel), in DreamWorks Animation’s ‘Trolls.’ (Photo courtesy of DreamWorks Animation.)


A month ago, my expectations for this movie were really, really low. The trailers did very little for me, the idea seemed a bit silly – even for a kids movie – and the only thing I found redeemable about the plot summary was the cast list (those above plus Gwen Stefani, Russell Brand, James Cordon, John Cleese and many others).

But after seeing the film, I was actually quite impressed with most aspects of it.

The story is silly and fun, but has a ton of heart; the animation bright and vibrant; and the voice cast lived up to how good it was on paper. Sometimes the jokes are of the “low hanging fruit” variety, but they serve their purpose and elicit chuckles around the theater.


Troll princess Poppy (voiced by Anna Kendrick) bursts into song in DreamWorks Animation’s ‘Trolls.’ (Photo courtesy of DreamWorks Animation.)


In a normal year, I think it's safe to say that “Trolls” would be in serious contention for a Best Animated Feature Oscar. Unfortunately for DreamWorks, 2016 isn't a normal year in terms of animated films. With “Kubo and the Two Strings,” “Zootopia,” and “Finding Dory” virtually guaranteed three of the five slots, and other strong contenders like “Sausage Party,” “April & the Extraordinary World,” “Miss Hokusai” and “Moana” making a lot of noise, it could be a tough road.

That, however, isn't a slight against this movie though. It's fun, it's family-friendly, the animation is solid, and, yes, that Justin Timberlake song we've been hearing for months plays a pretty prominent role.

★★★1/2 of ★★★★★


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