Neither my four-year-old daughters nor my 9-year-old son had ever heard of Troll dolls before watching the movie based on the toy, and while my son could care less, they are now atop of the twins’ Christmas list. I’m OK with that, because while the movie itself was mostly an ephemeral, 90-minute acid trip through a brightly-colored wonderland, it’s fitfully entertaining, often delightful, and it contains an impressively positive, appealing, easy-to-remember message.
The story is simple. A bunch of trolls live in a tree. Their lives consist almost exclusively of singing, dancing and hugging. However, Bergens — which look much larger and gloomier versions of Trolls — discover that the only way they can ever feel happy is by eating a Troll. The Trolls, to avoid being eaten on Trollstice, flee the tree and escape the Bergens.
Two decades later, a loud Troll party captures the attention of an exiled Bergen chef, she kidnaps several of the Trolls, and takes them back to Bergenville, where they are scheduled to be eaten by the downtrodden king and the miserable citizens of Bergenville.
The queen troll, Poppy (Anna Kendrick), recruits Branch (Justin Timberlake) to journey to Bergenville to rescue the kidnapped Trolls. Adventure ensues. Songs are sung, hugs are shared, and the Bergens — spoiler — eventually find happiness without the need to eat trolls.
“Daddy, the happiness was inside of them all along!” one of my daughters giddily exclaimed on the ride home, and that’s a great take home message for kids. They loved the movie and as they are the target demographic, that’s really all we can ask as parents. As an adult, it’s easy to tolerate: Much better than Smurfs and Alvin and the Chipmunks, but short of Frozen or The LEGO Movie. It’s best when it’s in song-mode, particularly when the songs are originals or more recent covers (it suffers some when it resorts to wedding DJ music, like “Celebration” or Lionel Ritchie’s “Hello” (as sung by Zooey Deschanel)).
Ultimately, anyone who has listened to top 40 music for the last six months knows exactly where Trolls is going to end, and that’s too its credit, because if you like this song and this music video, Trolls is going to be an easy movie to tolerate. I’ve voluntarily watched this video with my kids about 50 times in the last month, and their enthusiasm for it never wanes. It’s joyful as hell, and the movie’s climactic scene is every bit as jubilant.
That truck driver KILLS me every time.