We live in a time when studios turn out movies based on any zeitgeisty craze in order to make the big bucks regardless of whether it’s a good idea or not (Emojimovie anyone?).
This year we see the revival of Trolls, the ugly, punk-haired toy that adorned pencils and pockets in the early 90s, but their debut on the big screen is courtesy of the creators of Shrek, which bodes well, and thankfully the result is a vibrant, fun and cheeky movie that even big kids should enjoy.
The story is a classic rescue mission, with our two heroes, the ebullient Princess Poppy (voiced by Anna Kendrick) and the sullen Branch (Justin Timberlake), setting off to Bergen Town to save their friends from its ogre-like inhabitants, who think that the only way to be happy is to eat the little critters.
Along the way they encounter singing plants, carnivorous creatures and floating eyeballs in a colourful, nightmarish place that could be twinned with Tim-Burton-ville or the animated Wonderland. Trolls fart glitter, crap cupcakes and burst into scenario-appropriate song – with Timberlake displaying his eclectic tastes as exec music producer on the film.
Yet even though there’s oodles of glitter, singing, hugging and scrapbooking, don’t dismiss this as saccharin kiddie fare; directors Walt Dohrn and Mike Mitchell – whose resumes include SpongeBob SquarePants – have admitted to drawing from the humour of Monty Python And The Holy Grail and The Mighty Boosh, so there’s enough wit and surrealism to keep older folk entertained too.
The animation itself is impressively detailed, giving a lo-fi, tactile look to the characters, in keeping with the original toys, while the song choice and vocal performances (especially Zooey Deschanel’s rendition of ‘Hello’) will tug you in all the right directions despite yourself.
As Branch says, “Life isn’t all cupcakes and rainbows,” but Trolls might just change your mind, if only for 92 multi-coloured minutes.