Friday, November 4, 2016 4:00 pm ·  0 Comments
I love animated movies. The best thing about the medium is you can create worlds impossible to create with traditional movie making – and you can make characters never before possible come to life. Dreamworks newest film, Trolls, does exactly that, and looks stunning. But with the freedom animation provides, it’s easy to get carried away.
If Trolls looks familiar, you may remember those strange Dutch toys designed by Thomas Dam. I guarantee you’ve never seen those long haired buddies like this before. These ones are obsessed with middle-school social culture and modern pop music.
Whether or not you enjoy watching Trolls is going to depend an awful lot on your tolerance level for this colourful cover album. There are some really funny scenes and the humour is similar to the very modest (and widely appealing) approach mastered by un-Disney animations like The LEGO Movie or Shrek.
There’s nothing wrong with this style necessarily (and by style, I mean the dreams and fantasies of most 8-10 year olds) so long as the movie has some narrative backbone to it. And this is the biggest problem the movie has. There’s loads of spectacle and catchy pop tunes, but the movie seems more like a Netflix kids show than a feature film.
First the movie is a fable; then it’s an adventure rescue story; then for 15 minutes it’s an indescribably dull Cinderella rip-off; and finally it’s a family drama. Whatever kind of movie it is, it changes constantly. It feels like watching a string of 11-minute episodes instead of a complete movie.
The screenplay feels that way too. Dialogue ranges from cheap and pandering to occasional heart and fun-filled joy. Clearly the appeal to Trolls is the bright, singing creatures. And boy are they bright…but they can sing too.
Sets, lights, effects, characters and animation all look dazzling on screen. It’s very pleasing to the eye, and the movie is crystal clear. The detail, warmth, and creativity used in the art for Trolls is reminiscent of the first time you read a Dr. Seuss book: it’s exciting, whimsical, and kind of fun to just hang out in.
The cast is enormous, with almost 20 recognizable names voicing the various trolls in the movie. Many of them are warm, energetic, and do fine with their voices. The trouble is, I can’t remember the names of any of them aside from the two main characters, voiced by the always charming Anna Kendrick and Justin Timberlake. I will say, credit is due to the mostly male writers for a story that focuses on a female protagonist, villain, and two of four other main characters.
Towards the end, I was finally bored of the cute characters, the schtick, and borderline annoyed with all the pop music romping about. The film is just 90 minutes, but boy does it drag on after the first 30.
Here’s what bothered me the most: there’s nothing cohesive, and nothing really entertaining in the whole movie. While none of it was bad, and the filmmakers clearly had loads of fun, the whole thing felt like a gentle diversion.
The only lasting impression I had was how weird some of the mechanics, music, and just about everything else was. But don’t worry – your kids will go nuts for this. All the children in the theatre were loving it. You’ll enjoy it more with some chocolate and a bottle of scotch when you get home. (Pre-drinking probably wouldn’t hurt, either).
You won’t be too disappointed, but save your animation dollars for a few more weeks until the much-buzzed Moana hits screens later this month. As for Trolls? The film’s theme of happiness stays campy throughout, but maybe it’s that positive attitude (instead of more 3D tricks) that make these creatures really pop.
2 out of 4 Stars
G, 93 minutes, Family Animation.
Directed by Mike Mitchell.
Starring Anna Kendrick, Justin Timberlake, Christine Baranski, and a dozen B-listers.
Now Playing at Film.Ca Cinemas, Cineplex Winston Churchill, and Cineplex Oakville & VIP.