Review: ‘Trolls’ Are The Smurfs For This Generation

Genre: Animation | Comedy | Adventure Directed by: Mike Mitchell, Walt Dohrn Starring: Justin Timberlake, Anna Kendrick, Zooey Deschanel Written by: Jonathan Aibel, Glenn Berger (screenplay), Erica Rivinoja (story), Thomas Dam (created)
Genre: Animation | Comedy | Adventure
Directed by: Mike Mitchell, Walt Dohrn
Starring: Justin Timberlake, Anna Kendrick, Zooey Deschanel
Written by: Jonathan Aibel, Glenn Berger (screenplay), Erica Rivinoja (story), Thomas Dam (created)

Synopsis: After the Troll Village is invaded, it’s up to Poppy and Branch to save their fellow Trolls from the Bergens. 

Remember those little creepy troll toys with long colorful hair? Well they have are now moving off the toy shelves and onto the movie screens. We are in an era where the most obscure characters get solo movies. Doctor Strange is coming out and even Marvel fans are pondering who he is. Heck, The Angry Birds got a movie and they started out a frickin’ phone app game! Now it’s turn for the Trolls to get the big screen treatment and it’s well deserved. Trolls is a hit off the bat.

THE GOOD:

After getting the first look of the troll and their interaction, the first thought that jumped to my mind is that they are the new age Smurfs. For most kids who didn’t grow up with the Smurfs and are vaguely aware of them, they are the lovable and cute little blue “trolls”. The similarities between the Smurfs and Trolls are evident. They are joyful little characters that live in a forest and their own little world. Each of them has a unique trait and personality. There are so many Trolls and Smurfs that you can’t keep track. They also have a female character that’s a central figure in their community (Poppy and Smurfette). Ok, enough about the Smurf and Trolls comparisons, but they are there, so Smurf fans will definitely get a kick out of it.

What makes the Trolls so fun are their individual personalities. There is the Troll that has a gummy as his companion. There is the glittery troll. The list goes on and on, the point is that kids have plenty of trolls to pick from as their personal favorite. As if they didn’t have enough things going for them, the trolls can sing and they are quite the huggers (each one is equipped with a ”hug watch” that notifies them when it’s time to hug).

Poppy is the fearless and upbeat Troll
Poppy is the fearless and upbeat Troll

Much credit goes to directors Mike Mitchell and Walt Dohrn who put together a great story and tell it in such an innovative way. This film is as much of a musical as it is an adventure comedy. The music isn’t just inserted to get a few happy moments for kids to sing along to, but every songs is a crucial extension of the plot. The songs are used as an expression from the characters. The neat part of it is that they use popular songs from different decades, for example Lionel Richie’s ”Hello”, sung by Zooey Deschanel. All the mainstream hits are sung by the voice actors of this movie, and they sound great. It’s just such a creative and nice touch that the adults will surely appreciate. I’m not crazy about musicals, but the songs in this film are spot on in every sense.

The look of the Trolls is not only unique, but they are developed so precisely. The animators do a phenomenal job of detailing the characters. If you pay attention to the skin of the trolls it’s not some smooth bland texture, instead it’s this slightly furry skin that’s reminiscent of a slightly furry winter mitt. It looks like it’s more of a combination of a material then skin. I thought that was such a neat subtle addition that separates the trolls from just another animated character, it gives them a distinct appearance.

The Trolls have a very distinctive look
The Trolls have a very distinctive look

The voice cast is endlessly talented and make outstanding contributions, Justin Timberlake and Anna Kendrick particular. Timberlake voices Branch, the skeptical and outsider Troll. You wouldn’t even know it’s Timberlake voicing the character as he immerses in the role, which is outstanding work from him. Kendrick voices the heroine Poppy and gives her a lot of personality with her voice work. I was very impressed with the signing by these actors.

At the heart of a movie is a story with a lot of heart. The Trolls preach love and affection with their pledge to give out hugs. It’s common for any movie, especially an animated one to go with the good versus bad narrative. I mentioned the Smurfs earlier and they had a distinctive villain in Gargamel, but in the Trolls the “villains” are actually likable and endearing. King Gristle is misguided, not necessarily bad. He has good intentions, but is guided through on a wrong path. The key character is Bridget, she’s the link between the Trolls and the “villainous” Bergens.

The positive message of the movie
The positive message of the movie

THE BAD:

As relevant as Poppy is to the Trolls and Bridget is to the story, it would be nice to see a few more female Trolls for the kids to be able to connect with. This is something that can be tweaked moving forward. It’s good to have a variety of male and female characters in the diverse world of Trolls.

The end of the movie did leave a bit of a question mark regarding the next chapter in the Trolls saga. While it shouldn’t be overly difficult to create a continuing world for the Trolls, the story is wrapped up nicely. The huge advantage the filmmakers have with these Trolls is a blank history they are in full control of creating, which leaves them with potentially endless possibilities for the franchise.

THE VERDICT:

The Trolls went from bizarre dolls to endearing animated characters with a lot of personality. While the hair is what still makes them distinguishable, it’s their personalities that make them shine brightest. A talent voice cast with creative filmmakers and designers puts this budding franchise in great hands moving forward. Trolls are fun for the family, kids and adults will find a variety of elements to enjoy, from songs to the witty dialogue. This is one of the surprise animated movies of the year that’s enjoyable with a sweet message. Trolls are not ugly anymore, they are cute and funny little creatures that will warm up your heart, even if you’re a Bergen.

Rating: PG

Runtime: 1 hr 32 min

Release Date: Friday, November 4, 2016 (USA)

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Overall
8.6/10
8.6/10
  • Acting - 9.5/10
    9.5/10
  • Cinematography - 9/10
    9/10
  • Plot/Screenplay - 8/10
    8/10
  • Setting/Theme - 9/10
    9/10
  • Buyability - 9/10
    9/10
  • Recyclability - 7/10
    7/10
  • Fun/Entertainment - 9/10
    9/10

About Jim Alexander

When it boils down to it, Jim's passion is entertainment. Aside from being an avid sports fan, that follows all things NFL, NBA, and Soccer. He currently resides in the suburbs of Chicago. At the core of his interests...movies! Whether trying to catch the newest flick coming out this weekend, or the latest On Demand release, to heated debates with his friends and colleagues about the most recent "Box Office Blunder". The passion for movies lies deep within him. When he isn't writing, he immerses himself in his other interests; Acting and Radio Broadcasting. Follow Jim on Twitter @JimRko.

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