Let’s be honest, I was never a fan of those smiling, wild-haired plastic troll dolls when I was a kid, but I can say I like them a whole lot better than the “new and improved” 3D-animation monstrosities we see here.
Trolls opens in an oddly dark place, considering it’s aimed at kids. The trolls live peacefully in a special tree, hugging every hour, breaking into song and dance at the most inopportune times and scrapbooking incessantly.
However, once a year, ugly, unhappy monsters called “bergens” cook and eat the trolls, the consumption of which supposedly provides them a taste of happiness – the only way bergens believe they can be happy. It’s called “Trollstice” and to be honest, it’s pretty bloody grim. Thankfully, the trolls escape and fast-forward twenty years, they are celebrating loudly.
Unfortunately, the singing and general cheeriness attracts the attention of the banished bergen chef, who troll-naps several of our friends to win back her place in the bergen kingdom. Princess Poppy (Anna Kendrick) enlists the help of non-singing, non-dancing, love-hating Branch (Justin Timberlake) for a rescue mission.
What follows is a garish and glittery world (I concede, it does have incredible digital texture) and cheap covers of what are otherwise excellent pop songs. DreamWorks Animation’s Trolls offers kids a puke-inducing message: happiness comes from within. Or perhaps, my own cynical take: you only need love to be happy. Also, don’t get sucked in to the “if you loved Shrek …” propaganda. Shrek was structured, with a strong story, engaging characters and lots of humour that appealed to adults and children alike. Though it tries, hardly even any kids laughed during the session of Trolls I attended. Even its star-studded cast couldn’t save it.