When the Trolls movie was announced no less than 100 years ago, the skeptics among us saw it as a flagrant scheme to shill a certain toy again. Its existence came bundled with eye-glazing buzzwords like "franchise potential" and "brand synergy." But wait! Trolls is so much fun! And oh my goodness, did it make me happy!
The movie is indeed based on the dolls created by Danish woodcutter Thomas Dam, with their squat noses and colorful tufts of hair. Here, they are happy all the time, dancing and singing and hugging like they're living in a nonstop sober rave. It's in stark contrast to the Bergen, manic-depressive ogres who only experience happiness when they pop trolls like Prozac on a holiday called Trollstace.
When Princess Poppy's (Anna Kendrick) best friends are captured and added to the menu, she enlists Branch (Justin Timberlake), a doomsday prepper troll with an almost obsessive knowledge of the Bergen, and sets out to rescue them. It's a story of the power of positivity and doing what's right. Also, it's a story about farting glitter.
Everything in Trolls is overwhelmingly cute. The trolls are adorable, from their spiked neon hairdos right down to their little troll butts, and their world is a techno-colored delight, like Avatar if it was custom-ordered off Etsy. I can't imagine why this wasn't released before Halloween, because every kid would have dressed up as a troll. (Not just the Timberlakes.)
The cast proves less insanely random than it appears on paper -- can you imagine another movie starring Justin Timberlake, Quvenzhané Wallis, and Christine Baranski? Kendrick is given more to do as an animated troll than in all of The Accountant. Zooey Deschanel steals each and every scene she's in as a snaggletooth scullery maid named Bridget. I still have no idea who Gwen Stefani played.
Poppy's anthem, "Get Back Up Again," is bound to be the new "Let it Go." It may not be as innately catchy, but the sequence in the movie is so fun that kids will be obsessed with it. (I'm realizing it's stuck in my head all over again as I write this.) Even Timberlake's "Can't Stop the Feeling," which you have heard a gajillion times by now, feels as wonderful as the first time by the time it rolls around.
At the risk of using the word "cute" until it means absolutely nothing, Trolls is so darn cute and clever and unabashedly silly. There is plenty of giggle-inducing body humor for kiddos -- trolls poop cupcakes when they're scared! -- as well as genuine laugh-out-loud moments for parents. (Or, ya know, adults who want to see the Trolls movie). I challenge any Bergen in the audience to not feel happy by the end.