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TROLLS – Sparkle Motion

trolls_movie

Directed by Walt Dohrn, Mark Mitchell
Starring Anna Kendrick, Justin Timberlake, Zooey Deschanel

Remember when Trolls were not just creatures in a Steve Jackson film, or basement dwellers that have found their way onto the internet? Kind of…..? Well Dreamworks does. Hence the newest blindingly bright kid’s film, Trolls, hits the screen.

It is said the Bergen (a dour traditional troll-like creature) will never know happiness unless they eat a Troll (think of a smurf on Ecstasy) . Fortunately the Trolls fled the Bergen kingdom 20 years ago, and have set up their own ideal society. A society based on parties, scrap-booking, singing, and an hourly hug break. A society that is completely unprepared when a Bergen finds them one night and captures many of their citizens. Now it is up to princess Poppy (Anna Kendrick) to sneak into the Bergen village to rescue her friends, but to do that she needs the help of the one troll that has been preparing for this his entire life. That is, if she can lure Branch (Justin Timberlake) out of his underground bunker first.

This film looks like a Care Bear over dosed on cuteness and exploded on screen. Colourful seem like understatement here for the initial setting of the Troll village and the forest. Yet the aesthetics grow on you, as they perfectly realise the children’s felt story book quality of the film. Buoyed by a plethora of popular music from the 80s and 90s (aimed squarely at the parents), Trolls should entertain both the younger and older crowd, with some smart story telling and decent comedic approach. It may look like all hyper-kinetic sugar coated fun, but there is just enough substance here to prevent audiences slipping into a diabetic coma.

Trolls contains the usual smattering of positive child friendly moral messages you would expect. Primarily that your pursuit of happiness should not trump the basic rights of others. Basic stuff, but not bad to drill in from a young age.

Yet smartly enough, it also plays against many of those tropes in showing that positivity alone is not always enough. One hilarious number (Get Back Up Again) has Poppy setting off on her quest full of determination and blind optimism, only to end up poisoned by berries, entangled, and surrounded by monstrous spiders by the end of it. By contrast Branch catastrophises and looks at the worst case scenario, willing to shut himself in a bunker and drink his own sweat rather than risk. Trolls rejects both extremes and proposes a middle road of hoping for the best and planning for contingencies. Both learn from the other and come to a concord, and that is a lesson easily overlooked.

Nothing new or original here, but solidly entertaining nevertheless. Both Timberlake and Kendrick retain a sense of humour about their characters, and are not above a little self parody in search of a laugh. A film aimed squarely at the younger demographic, but is at least merciful to the adults dragged along.

DAVID O’CONNELL

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