Mild spoilers follows
The newest of DreamWorks animated offerings, Trolls is an interesting idea decently executed, but doesn’t come anywhere near the best of animated cinema.
Set in world so colourful that I assume the production design was done by a glue sniffing Salvador Dali fan, Trolls is about a persecuted minority forced on the run from an overwhelming government that wants to wipe them off the face of the map in the misguided belief that their lives would become happier.
That’s right people, it’s basically the Holocaust with better songs.
20 years after fleeing, the Trolls, led by Princess Poppy (Anna Kendrick) have completely forgotten about the threat and are content to sing, dance and generally telly tubby their way through life.
Alas the threat, known in the film as the Bergen (because I suppose Gestapo was too on the nose), find their village and kidnap several of Poppy’s friends.
Poppy must now team up with Branch (Justin Timberlake), a grumpy Troll that only cares about himself, and try to rescue her friends.
While it may seem I have been quiet flippant so far, one thing I do wish to congratulate the film on is the opening 10 minutes. Never, in my 30 years, have I seen a children’s film start by presenting the villains as sympathetic and in turn give them a logical reason for their pursuing of Trolls.
Too bad the film never really expands on this aspect, instead preferring to wallow in a variety of pop songs.
To be fair the music is good, with several remixes and a new hit from Timberlake, but what the music can’t make up for is something that Pixar is amazing at. And it can be said in one word… Consequence.
Taking an example from Toy Story and Finding Nemo, both films establish the danger very blatantly by showing the death of characters. In Toy Story we see Sid blow up an army solider, while in Finding Nemo we see the death of Nemo’s mother.
Both these scenes are fundamental to the storytelling because they establish the risks that these characters have to face to succeed in their mission.
Trolls, however, chooses to play it safe. With no character having to face dangers similar to the previous mentioned films, Trolls becomes a rather meandering story, satisfied to do only the bare minimum in breaking new storytelling ground.
Having said that, if you have kids under the age of 10 they’ll probably love this; but anyone older might want to look elsewhere.