Directors: Walt Dohrn and Mike Mitchell
Starring: Anna Kendrick, Justin Timberlake, Zooey Deschanel, Christopher Mintz-Plasse, Christine Baranski, Russell Brand, John Cleese, Gwen Stefani, James Corden
Written by: Jonathan Aibel, Glenn Berger, (story) Erica Rivinoja and (based on the Good Luck Trolls) Thomas Dam
Running Time: 92 mins
Release date: 21st October 2016
Before the main feature started, there must have been three (I wasn’t paying too much attention) adverts in which parents who had spent their hard-earned cash taking their little blighters to the cinema along with feeding them an assortment of sugary confectionary to keep them quiet (surely the opposite effect would occur?), would now have to spend even more money on the merchandise that Trolls would produce. Three different troll characters who talk, sing and generally annoy, could be purchased. This led me to believe that I wasn’t so much going to sit through a movie, more an extended product placement. I was right.
The Trolls, a tiny group of happy-go-lucky creatures with massive woolly hair, have escaped the clutches of the Bergens, creatures who eat Trolls in order to be happy. When Princess Poppy, the leader of the Trolls, throws a party, she sends a signal to their position in a hidden forest, where Chef Bergen can find them and return to her homeland to feed her captives to her King. Poppy manages to escape but her friends don’t and so with the reluctant help from Branch, a grey Troll, they have to enter Bergen Town to rescue her friends.
For 90 minutes we get a multicoloured explosion of smiley, happy characters singing a succession of pop tunes while the usual mix of slapstick, overplayed one-liners and glitter escaping from Troll’s behinds, all really amounting to nothing much. In fact, the plot seems to run out of steam with at least 30 minutes still remaining, for them to introduce a Cinderella-esque subplot to stretch out a film that seemed too long in the first place.
Okay, so I may sound a little down on this but my cynical self cannot help it. The odd joke worked and I did spend most of the film trying to guess the voices, which was distracting enough but still I felt like every kid who was sitting in that packed screening was just starry-eyed for one of those creatures at Christmas.
Dreamworks, who produced this, haven’t had the best career in animation, with only Shrek and How To Train your Dragon managing to rise above mediocre. This one is a slight improvement on, say, The Croods but only just. It is bright and colourful like you’ve been thrown into a giant jar of pick and mix, then shaken violently. The voices, ranging from Justin Timberlake to John Cleese are fun too, while the choice of classic pop tunes mixed with modern tracks like the infectious Can’t Stop The Feeling are enjoyable enough but when a film zips through its main plot so fast that it needs to tack on something else to extend it, you feel that this isn’t really a work where love and attention have been paid, like you would find in a Pixar movie.
Trolls isn’t terrible but then it isn’t that great either. It did make me smile in places but I just don’t like the sensation I get that I am watching a money making machine desperately trying to get those who have paid to watch a movie to dig deeper in their pockets. You could say that about all movies. It’s just not done so blatantly as this.