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So as you know, I stopped writing lengthy reviews on this site this year, keeping the blog as more of a film diary of sorts.  Lo and behold,...

Thursday, August 03, 2017

Movie Review - Trolls

Trolls (2016)
Featuring the vocal talents of Anna Kendrick, Justin Timberlake, Zooey Deschanel, Christopher Mintz-Plasse, Christine Baranski, Russell Brand, James Corden, Jeffrey Tambor, and John Cleese
Directed by Mike Mitchell
***This film is currently streaming on Netflix***

In all of my 2016 viewings, animated films have been decidedly lukewarm, failing to truly excite or entertain in any magnificent fashion.  Color me surprised, then, by my reaction to Trolls, a colorful, finely animated, nicely voice-acted, incredibly fun romp.  And the fact that it's brought to us by Dreamworks -- an animation studio that often leaves me disappointed -- is even more flabbergasting to me with Trolls undoubtedly being my favorite animated film the studio has released thus far.

The tiny elf-like creatures known as the Trolls are an incredibly happy group, prone to singing, dancing, and hugging every hour on the hour.  The Bergens, on the other hand, are human-sized goblin-like folks who live in a perpetual state of disappointment, unable to find happiness.  Years ago, however, the Bergens discovered that eating a Troll can provide a feeling of happiness and, because of this, the Bergens rounded up all the Trolls and caged them in a tree in a courtyard in Bergentown.  Every year on Trollstice, the Bergens allow themselves to eat one Troll and be truly happy for a few hours, and this year young Prince Gristle (Christopher Mintz-Plasse) is going taste his first Troll, feeling contentment for the first time.  The Trolls, however, have finally had enough and plan an elaborate and successful escape from Bergetown thanks to King Peppy (Jeffrey Tambor) and his daughter Princess Poppy (Anna Kendrick).  For years, the Trolls lived a blissful Bergen-free life, but following a raucous singing party, the Trolls are discovered by Chef (Christine Baranski), a Bergen banished from Bergentown following the escape of the Trolls.  Chef catches several of the Trolls and takes them back to the now King Gristle, but Princess Poppy along with the help of the only sad Troll around -- Branch (Justin Timberlake) -- set out to save their friends from digestion.

Sure, all of that sounds ridiculous and as I typed it, I couldn't actually fathom how I could've possibly enjoyed this silliness, but Trolls tells its upbeat story well and embraces the sheer frivolity.  The peppiness of the trolls is surprisingly enhanced by well-known pop songs as well as some pleasantly ear-catching original numbers sung by the likes of Anna Kendrick, Justin Timberlake, and Zooey Deschanel all of whom -- as well as the rest of the vocal cast -- create believable voices for their characters.  Animation-wise, I found the computer animation to carry a slight Claymation tone and the environments which the Trolls and Bergens inhabit feel decidedly unique -- bright, cheerful, and arts-and-crafts-like for the Trolls and pointy, dark, and gloomy for the Bergens -- lacking the somewhat generic habitats we sometimes see in the cinematic animation landscape.

Pixar often aims for the heart, but Trolls doesn't even attempt that instead aiming for a visceral euphoria via its music, color, and pleasantly engaging (though simple) story.  While Trolls doesn't attempt to be deep or emotionally-investing in a Pixar-like way, it's fun...and sometimes that's enough.

The RyMickey Rating:  B+

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