Mostly inoffensive but rarely doing more than the passable minimum to entertain the young’uns, Trolls trades on gaudy, auto-tuned renditions of classic pop hits and colourful visuals while touting little in the way of memorable characters or plotting.
The Bergens are a race of creatures who believe that the only way they can find happiness is by eating Trolls, and after Troll princess Poppy (Anna Kendrick) accidentally causes a number of her pals to be captured by a Bergen, she must team up with a grumpy Troll “survivalist”, Branch (Justin Timberlake), to save them before it’s too late.
Trolls sits squarely in that wide pantheon of animated movies that aren’t overly annoying and yet don’t do much to spike adult interest either. Kids may go for the spry musical renditions and bright colours, but sadly there’s very little of invention or interest residing underneath the hood.
How much adults will enjoy Trolls will largely depend on how much they dig the musical covers throughout, which are predominantly of the saccharine bubblegum variety and don’t really make the most of either Kendrick or Timberlake’s undeniable vocal talents. It’s also worth mentioning that older viewers might take umbrage with the altered design of the Trolls themselves, which aside from their fluffy, backcombed hair-dos don’t really resemble the source inspiration much at all.
As for the gags? They at least move thick and fast, intermittently raising a smile and proving obnoxiously hyperactive, though there’s one killer, out-of-nowhere sex joke that easily steals the movie and is thankfully subtle enough that a child would never even begin to understand it. For the most part, though, it’s incredibly middle-of-the-road fare as far as humour, character development and emotion go, despite its clear attempts to try and make the audience feel something by film’s end.
It’s easy to see why Trolls will probably be a big hit for DreamWorks, with its broad palette strokes and appealing style, but given the potential to expand the Troll mythos into something much more subversive and intelligent, such as happened with The Lego Movie in 2014, this feels like an incredibly safe, dispassionate missed opportunity.
Trolls is in UK cinemas October 21st and US cinemas November 4th