Trolls World Tour debuts on premium on demand services, and turns out to be really something of a treat – here’s our review.
Got to be honest, didn’t see this coming. The first Trolls movie I found to be a bright, bubbly, entirely functional piece of froth that didn’t do much for me, but engaged my kids for a little bit. Plus, y’know, we had to listen to that song on loop for a bit.
Trolls World Tour, then, didn’t come with expectations heavily raised. When it then introduced one of the standard animated movie hokum plot options, about he really likes her, she really likes him, but will they tell each other, I was all set to dig out my template three star family movie review and clock off early. It didn’t help too that the film appeared to be, well, trolling us all stuck in lockdown. There’s an ongoing theme of isolation, and at one stage, someone chucks three bog rolls at the screen.
But after an unsteady opening ten minutes or so, when someone births a baby out of their hair, the film finds a smartly-chosen path. The plot as such sees Poppy (Anna Kendrick) and Branch (Justin Timberlake) discovering that there are more trolls than they thought in the world. More to the point, there are six distinct tribes living independently of each other, each dedicated to a different strand of music. Each strand of music is represented by a coloured string. An Infinity Gauntlet of sorts, if you will.
The Thanos in all of this then is Barb, a hard rocking troll who seeks to gather the six strings from the six tribes (against their will, natch), and bring music and trolls together. Hot on her heels, then, are Poppy and Branch.
Reading back, that all sends a bit too dense and heavily plotted, but it’s lightly done, and delightfully, it turns out to be the ingredients for a road movie crossed with a light whistle stop tour of music genres.
And it’s incredibly good fun. The middle third of the film in particular, as Poppy and Branch go from tribe to tribe encountering their music, flies by. Furthermore, I did wonder if the film was going to stick steadfast to just six genres of movie when it threw in a line early on about how every other type falls between, but then it crams in as many as it can. On the quiet – well, not so quiet – it’s introducing the younger members of the audience to a range of music approaches. Plus it’s happy to throw in a classic movie reference or two as well, and there’s a real sense that lots and lots of people have put in a shift and a half here.
Visually, it’s as bright, colourful and E-number fused as the first film, but also, the animation I felt also had a little bit more of a stop motion flavour to it. That, whilst fully digital, it was drawing on the style of not just the original Trolls dolls, but the work of a company such as Aardman. One music sequence had a tinge of Muppets for me, too.
There’s a not too subtle moral message at the heart of it all that you can probably work out just by reading the synopsis, but still, it’s hard to be cynical about it. I’ve not seen it done quite so well in a family movie for a while, and given the very broad target age range for the film – a young-leaning U certificate right the way through to country music – it’s happy to wear that particularly sizeable heart on its very glittery chest.
It’s a smart piece of entertainment, this. That whilst the narrative heart and character beats may feel familiar, the coating of them isn’t. It’s hard to think of a recent family film in fact that’s managed to harness such a vibrant visual and audio style so confidently. And still have the courtesy to be off the screen in 90 minutes.
A very welcome surprise, this. Don’t groan when it kicks off with a skewed take on Girls Just Wanna Have Fun, arguably the weakest number in the film. Nor when it cuts off Spice Girls lyrics before it gets to the fruity bit. Instead, sit patiently for the moment when the movie hits the road. If you go with it, it’s not just the kids who are going to have a blast.
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