The creators of Shrek have delivered a delightful animated film that is fun for all ages. With an old-school music playlist that brought me back to my Bat-Mitzvah days (“I’m Coming Out, “Celebration,” “Move Your Feet” etc.) and a colorful collection of overly optimistic Trolls that are determined to help others find their own happiness, we’ve got a dance-friendly message of love.
TROLLS stars Anna Kendrick, Justin Timberlake, Christopher Mintz-Plasse, Russell Brand, Zooey Deschanel, Jeffrey Tambor, Christine Baranski, James Corden, Kunal Nayyar, Ron Funches, Icona Pop, Quvenzhané Wallis, with John Cleese and Gwen Stefani. Each Troll has its own, rich identity, with my personal favorite covered in glitter. Director Mike Mitchell and co-director Walt Dohrn deeply researched Troll lore for the film and adapted it to fit a modern day story. “We were fascinated by how these creatures were originally scary-ugly and evolved over time into being cute-ugly,” says Mitchell. “In the 1970s they became a symbol for happiness.”
The film almost immediately presents its conflict when the Trolls’ unhappy neighbors, known as the “Bergens,” attempt to capture and eat the Trolls as a mode of achieving their own happiness. Though they initially escape from the Bergens, their new location is found after they throw a loud, celebratory party. When Poppy’s (Anna Kendrick) friends are caught and whisked away to Bergen Town, she becomes immediately determined to bring them back to safety, and she enlists the help of her neurotic Troll friend, Branch (Justin Timberlake) who seemed to have missed out on the Troll happiness gene. As Poppy and Branch journey into the Bergens’ dangerous world, they help one another keep their resolve in trying moments.
The film is good, but it brought a few existential questions to the surface, which proves that I probably need a vacation. First, the idea that happiness comes from within rather than anything external (such as eating a Troll) made me ask whether it’s a poo-poo on taking medication for depression. Maybe we need to eat a Troll or two after exploring other failed options (that’s a joke . . . kinda). Second, I understand Branch’s character is a foil for Poppy, but his hue looks too close to the Bergens and it doesn’t make sense that he’d be unhappy. After all, he’s still a Troll. Perhaps one can be happy AND neurotic, but Branch just looked depressed, which goes against Troll lore. Lastly, the film made me think of an Eeyore meme, which said:
“One awesome thing about Eeyore is that even though he is basically clinically depressed, he still gets invited to participate in adventures and shenanigans with all of his friends And they never expect him to pretend to feel happy, they just love him anyway, and they never leave him behind or ask him to change.”
I understand that if the Bergens are trying to eat the Trolls, then it makes sense to help them change, but its just a thought.
It should be noted that I saw this movie with children, who were engrossed from start to finish and endlessly praised the music while exiting the film. It’s family-friendly, it’s entertaining, and the colors could make anyone happy.