“Trolls” certainly is a movie. It has a beginning, and an end, and it has merchandise potential, as well as franchise potential. It has a lot of really marketable broad characters, and ugly villains, and a pop soundtrack that can be sold in Wal-Mart and Itunes. One character poops cupcakes, another spews glitter so the action figures sell themselves. The cast is popular, the characters are lovable enough for birthday parties, and the plot is simple enough to where it audience only has to be required to remember the songs that are sung by each character. Plus the characters never stop talking, despite journeying through a vast and unusual fantasy land, because if they keep talking, it keeps the kids in the audience alert and out of their popcorn and bags of candy.
Years before the movie began, the evil Bergens realized that they could acquire moments of happiness by eating the happy, dancing, and joyous trolls that lived in nature. So they trapped them in their tree and gather to eat them every year for “Trollstice.” One year the trolls finally escape their tree prison and make their way to freedom leaving the Bergens without happiness. The Troll Village is now run by the troll heir apparent Poppy, a happy female troll who loves to sing, dance, and celebrate with everyone. Her friend Branch is a grouchy and overly paranoid troll who hides in his hole and is afraid the Bergens will invade their village any day. One night during a massive celebration, the Bergens pariah “Chef” discovers the village and kidnaps a group of them to take to the king for a feast. Poppy and Branch now head to the Bergens village to save their friends. But then Poppy realizes that the Bergens female Bridget is in love with the Bergens King Gristle.
So Poppy helps her try to win his heart. “Trolls” watches like it was written by a committee who tried squeezing in three stories at once. It meanders and is literally all over the place with its narrative while also blatantly ripping off “The Smurfs” in the process. It tries to conceal its flaws with a lot of random gags and loud covers of pop music, but none of it allows for a coherent and cohesive animated movie. And the first person to say, “But Felix, this movie isn’t meant for you, it’s for kids!” will get a vicious dose of the Five Point Palm Exploding Heart Technique. A movie so loud and distracting should not be so lauded. “Trolls” is not a movie so much as it is a distraction with big colors and loud music, with absolutely no substance. It has some ideas to sneak in about the pursuit of happiness and how it can be obtained through the small parts of life, but that’s lost in a haze of endless palaver that counts as a screenplay.
The cast is great but they have almost nothing to do here save for fitting the requirement for singing the pop covers that are sprinkled throughout the movie. There’s not a lot of good writing here that allows us to understand the characters, so they emphasize their feelings through trite songs like Lionel Richie’s “Hello,” and Mama Cass’s “Dream a Little Dream of Me.” There is no heart or any kind of emotion behind the tale of “Trolls.” It’s just so much goofy and simplistic ideas about happiness, and being happy, and preferring happiness over misery, trying to look for happiness in life, etc, etc, that the target audience won’t take anything away from it when the film has drawn to a close. It’s a grating, obnoxious, and just unpleasant attempt to revitalize an IP. I’ve already reminded myself to skip “Trolls 6: The Wrath of Chef.”