Film Review: Trolls

Promotional poster for "Trolls." (Photo from Trolls Facebook page.)

Promotional poster for "Trolls." (Photo from Trolls Facebook page.)

Dreamworks is a company that’s brought countless animated classics such as “Shrek,” “Kung Fu Panda,” and “How to Train Your Dragon” and can be rivaled with Disney and Pixar in terms of quality. Their latest film, “Trolls,” hit theaters this weekend, starring Anna Kendrick and Justin Timberlake. Is this an instant classic, or one their projects like “Shark Tale?”

Trolls are small creatures that like to sing, dance, hug, and live in complete harmony with one another. They’re discovered by Bergens, creatures that believe that the only source to happiness is to eat a troll, so every year they hold a festival in which they eat the trolls. The king of the trolls is able to save his tribe by going underground and hiding far away from the Bergens.

Twenty years later, with no sign of any Bergens, Princess Poppy (Kendrick) invites the entire village to a party celebrating their big escape. One of the trolls named Branch (Timberlake) is an outcast as he doesn’t do anything that the normal, happy trolls do and is always paranoid about a Bergen coming to take them all away.

During the party, a Bergen comes in and steals Poppy’s friends away, making her to give chase after them alongside Branch. The rest of the journey is nothing but catchy songs, lots of energy, and learning about finding one’s happiness.

Dreamworks is normally able to make their films work phenomenally well, incorporating a fantasy-like setting with modern day talk and memorable characters. “Trolls” is sadly not one of those films.

The elements are there, but not used effectively. The story feels too hollow to make a full feature length film. It’s based on the Good Luck Trolls dolls, and it feels like they’re pushing to sell toys rather than tell a good story. If the script was just able to be entertaining for both kids and adults, then we’d probably be seeing the film in a different light.

The voices, while fine for the most part, are never able to give the characters their own identity. Kendrick, Timberlake, and nearly all of them are so recognizable to where it’s impossible not to be unaware of their voices. Animated films typically face this obstacle with their well known celebrities in trying to voice their characters.  

The last ten minutes are probably the worst part of the film. It feels like there wasn’t any effort put into it and they thought just putting in a catchy song to have everyone dance to and then just end it would be enough.

Fortunately, there are some positives.

Something to immediately compliment the film is its animation. It’s very vibrant with its colors and probably one of the most colorful animated films I’ve seen in awhile. They’re able to use warm and cool colors cleverly with both the environment and characters, which does help with the overall message of the film (even if it’s obvious from the very beginning).

Even with the film feeling really light on storytelling, there are a few scenes that do feel genuine. One of the scenes includes the song “True Colors,” a song originally sung by Cyndi Lauper, and is a very nice scene. The other song numbers are usually fun to watch as well, mostly to see the creative aesthetics from the animators.

The music is worth noting since this is an animated musical. Timberlake is the music executive producer and he does a good job creating some catchy and upbeat tunes based on popular songs that will most certainly stay in viewer’s head for long after they have left the theater (They’re still in my head). One of the songs is bound to be Oscar nominated.

In the end, I love a lot of people in this film, but the film just didn’t work. It felt like the soundtrack had more effort put into it than the actual story and characters. It’s not awful, nowhere near Dreamworks’ worst films, and it does have a good message for kids. If a catchy soundtrack and all these celebrities are enough for a view, then by all means see it. It’s cute, but don’t expect a whole lot.

I’m glad I saw it, I just don’t think I’d see it again.