‘So you’re going to scrapbook them to freedom..?’ – Trolls (LFF Review)

A troll/horse hybrid that poops cupcakes. A creepy cloud with limbs. A troll that likes scrapbooking. A peppy soundtrack full of classic pop covers. Lots of glitter and neon. If you’re not sold on these features then ‘Trolls’ isn’t really for you. But if your interest is still withheld then continue reading as there is far more depth to ‘Troll’s than first meets the eye. Whilst sickly sweet it also has a lot of heart and some important messages. Think ‘Inside Out’ on LSD…

20 years ago King Peppy (Tambor) saved his people from the Bergens – desperately sad creatures who eat the incandescently happy Trolls so they can feel just a small glimpse of joy. To celebrate the important anniversary Princess Poppy (Kendrick) organises the biggest, loudest, craziest party ever – ignoring grumpy Troll survivalist Branch’s (Timberlake) claims that it’s a really bad idea. He’s proven right as Troll Town is then discovered by bergen Chef (Baranski) who takes a handful of Trolls back with her to feed her next king (Mintz-Plasse). Poppy goes on a quest to save her friends and forces Branch to go along for the ride.

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Okay, so this isn’t quite the level of ‘Inside Out’. A) Few things are and B) this is far more ‘kid-friendly’ and yet ‘Trolls’ ends up being a rather winning watch. It’s gloriously colourful, simultaneously silly yet often deceptively clever and actually rather enchanting.  It shares the same theme, exploring the issues of happiness & sadness, yet is coated in far more sugar than last year’s modern classic. From the opening storybook (scrapbook) prologue opener it is clear what kind of world we will be immersed in for the next 90 minutes. There’s slapstick for the kids and some excellent gags for the parents. The brief Kubrick reference (a Bergen toddler on a tricycle shot in the style of ‘The Shining’) and a cover of Simon & Garfunkel’s ‘The Sound of Silence’ are just two examples of the well-executed ‘adult’ content. It’s tongue-in-cheek, self-referral and self-knowing enough not to be full of itself.

The animation is of an excellent quality with a superb amount of depth and detail. The voice cast is rather incredible and provide some genuinely memorable performances. Casting Kendrick and Timberlake as leads was a sure-fire choice for success with both providing likeable characters that are also very different. Whilst not exactly original in some ways – having an introverted male and hyperactive female is far too obvious – both do well in the roles and do end up having some unexpected moments.

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The soundtrack is alarmingly good and nowhere near as annoying as it threatened to be. Its tracks are well chosen and very well performed – although admittedly rather unsurprising considering the quality of its performers. The story does hit a lull mid-way through as it shifts from quest narrative to Cinderella story which leads to a bit of meandering. Aside from this the rest of the story is an absolute rave – full of bright colours, laughs and a whole lot of sparkle. Kids will love its vibrancy and most adults will be won over by its sheer audacity and knowingness. This film has its (neon-coloured with disco-light candles) cake and eats it too.

3.5/5

Dir: Mike Mitchell & Walt Dohrn

Scr: Jonathan Aibel & Glenn Berger

Cast: Anna Kendrick, Zooey Deschanel, Justin Timberlake, Jeffrey Tambor, Christopher Mintz-Plasse, Christine Baranski, James Cordon, Russell Brand, Gwen Stefani.

Prd: Gina Shay

DOP: Yong Duk Jhun

Music: Christophe Beck

Country: United States

Year: 2016

Run time: 92 minutes

Trolls is in UK cinemas October 21st