Animated movies are arguably hotter than ever, after all the last six years have produced the six highest-grossing animated films of all-time. Trolls, an animated musical starring Anna Kendrick and Justin Timberlake, looks to strike while the iron is hot.
Movies usually produce a line of toys, but every so often that formula is flipped. Much like the G.I. Joe action figures, Dreamworks new animated movie Trolls is inspired by the once uber-popular wacky-haired Troll dolls. Kendrick and Timberlake star as trolls Poppy and Branch, two complete opposites working together to save their friends from the troll eating Bergens.
“Trolls” leans heavily on its pop inspirations: bleeding into the cast, the music and the dialogue. It works better in some ways than others, but you can tell the writers put all their eggs in one basket. The pop-culture references spark genuine laughs and no one can deny the catchiness of Timberlake’s “Can’t Stop the Feeling”, but I’m old fashioned in my belief that pop music is not the right fit for a kids musical.
Dreamwork’s animated buddy comedy grows stronger as the film proceeds. The pop music is rather bland and forgettable off the top, but the movie really shines through its second half. A slow ballad, references to Adele’s “Hello” and “Can’t Stop the Feeling” are right fits for the film’s tone. The quality of the animation is unremarkable, considering the recent quality of Pixar movies, but Trolls had something there with the sort of-fabric themes they had running in the background.
The two lead voice actors tackle their performance in opposite ways. Kendrick relies on more traditional and theatrical voice-work, while Timberlake speaks in a conversational tone. On one hand, it is jarring to hear the “Suit & Tie” singer speak in a manner so different to the other characters. It does, however, juxtapose nicely with Kendrick’s style. It is also worth mentioning the strong supporting cast, highlighted by the likes of James Corden, Zooey Deschanel and Russell Brand.
I am obsessed with animated features and there are huge expectations on the heels of Zootopia and Inside Out. Both those movies were for children, but tackled huge themes like racism (Zootopia) and mental illness (Inside Out). Trolls tells a far more simple story, albeit an important one. The movie is a reminder that we often have the choice to be a happy, so long as we believe happiness is possible. It isn’t some magic elixir outside our reach, but something we must acknowledge from within.
Trolls isn’t the greatest animated flick, with hit-and-miss music and an over-reliance on glittery farts and cupcake poops. It t is a lot of fun, however, and teaches an imperative lesson children should learn and adults often forget: you can be happy.