Some months ago, I wrote an article about the teaser for DreamWorks’ latest animated feature Trolls. As I stated in the piece, I thought the teaser made the upcoming feature look terrible, because it featured colorful trolls twerking and doing the whip. Now that the film has been released, however, I’m surprised to say that dreadful teaser didn’t do this movie justice. Sure, the film still has some of those aforementioned cringe-worthy moments that prevent it from being a fantastic feature, but Trolls is a lot better than I expected it to ever be.
Trolls is the 33rd animated featured created by DreamWorks Animation. Anna Kendrick stars as Poppy, princess of the trolls and future successor to the throne. While the trolls have always tried to live happy, carefree lives, they’ve also been running in fear from a bigger, grumpier breed of trolls known as the “bergens.” After twenty years of safety from the threat of bergens, the trolls throw a giant party to celebrate, despite the paranoid troll Branch’s (Justin Timberlake) warnings. When the bergen stumble upon their party, a small group of trolls are stolen away to be eaten, and Poppy drags the reluctant Branch alongside her to try to save them.
Trolls has to be DreamWorks’ best example of their animation talents. Not only are all the scenes and characters lively and distinct, but the fuzzy texture they incorporated into their animation can be sometimes breathtaking. For example, there’s a scene where Poppy is wrapped up in spider’s web, and it’s designed to look like yarn. It was so incredibly crafted and detailed that I genuinely second guessed myself if they had used stop motion alongside the CGI. It’s also one of the few animated movies that actually gets better when you see it in 3D. It never relies on the 3D gimmick in a cheap way, like throwing shots things in your face. Rather, seeing this film in 3D helps the already excellent animation style pop out even further. After all, who wouldn’t want to reach into this movie and give all that fuzz a feel?
And let’s not forget the talented leads. Anna Kendrick and Justin Timberlake work wonders together, and their film chemistry shines brightly on-screen. With Kendrick giving a great performance as the upbeat, silly Poppy and Timberlake working well as the grumpy Branch, we get a great pair of likable lead characters to command most of the film time. So, it’s a nice added bonus that these pair of trolls are also very funny together, easily providing the best jokes this movie has to offer. And lastly, the cover songs incorporated into the film’s run time allow for the singing talents of Kendrick and Timberlake to come to the forefront and exemplify their vocal expertise. Sure, not all of the song choices are great, but when they get it right, they get it really right. Kendrick’s cover of “The Sound of Silence” and the duet performance of “True Colors” especially stuck with me after exiting the theater.
However, while the teaser ultimately didn’t do this film justice, it did foreshadow some more painfully pandering moments you should expect going into Trolls. The film tries too hard to indulge younger audiences with butt jokes or forcefully incorporating modern slang into side character’s dialogue, like “yolo” and “sick burn.” Which is a shame, because this film could have felt a lot more timeless if it hadn’t tried so hard to feel relevant, as it only comes off as embarrassing and detrimental.
Lastly, the film also decides to take a strange right turn about half way through the run, by focusing on a forced romance between two bergen characters. Sure, you could say it was a way to make the bergens more identifiable, but we already got them from the film’s introduction. We see that the bergens only want to achieve happiness, and wouldn’t kill the little trolls if they didn’t genuinely believe it was the only way to be happy. So really, the romance felt like little more than added fluff to keep the film rolling on longer than necessary.
Yet, while Trolls definitely has its problems, the positives outweigh the negatives to create an ultimately fun experience. Kids will have a good time watching it, and even adults going in will appreciate the music choices and the beauty of the animation. So even if Trolls is far from DreamWorks Animation’s best as a whole, I stand by the statement that this film could indeed be their best in terms of their animation style.