The effervescent glitter sprays, catchy songs, and continued visual neon kaleidoscope of trolls are a smidgeon overwhelming, yet the heart of “Troll World Tour” has a weighty underlying message. Against this backdrop, ‘being different and liking or not liking different components of life is okay’— in fact, those differences should bring everyone together. A world where everyone is the same becomes a dull shade of gray, as strikingly portrayed during a scene in the movie. In addition, a new troll, Tiny Diamond, a rockin’ ‘boss baby,’ voiced by Kenan Thompson, steals the show.
Anna Kendrick (Poppy) and Justin Timberlake (Branch) reprise their roles in the sequel to “Trolls” (2016), the animated musical that earned three Oscar nominations for DreamWorks Animation. Not to be forgotten is the hit song, “Can’t Stop the Feeling,” sung by Timberlake, while paving the way for, “Just Sing,” written by Timberlake, Ludwig Göransson, Max Martin, and Sarah Aarons. The terrific, toe-tapping finale song features the voices of the “Trolls World Tour” cast. Including Grammy-winning stars, Kelly Clarkston, (Delta Dawn), Mary J. Blige, (Queen Essence), and Ozzy Osborne, (King Thrash). In speaking of music, there’s plenty to enjoy, starting with Daft Punk’s “One More Time,” followed by the Scorpions’, “Rock Me Like a Hurricane,” to Cyndi Lauper’s renamed, “Trolls, they Wanna Have Fun.”
The story directed by Walt Dohrn, who served as co-director on “Trolls,” centers on Queen Poppy’s discovery that their kingdom is one of six Troll tribes. Each tribe is loyal to six different kinds of music: Pop, Funk, Country, Techno, Classical, and Rock. And of course, the hard-rock royalty, Queen Barb (Rachel Bloom), and her father King Thrash (Ozzy Osbourne) have an evil plan; to extinguish all of the other kinds of music, force all trolls to pledge ‘rock’ alliance, paving the way for their absolute reign.
In recognizing the fact that the “Troll” movies are rare breeds in today’s filmmaking—they adhere to the fact that the movies are based on a small toy troll doll–while magnificently retaining the child-targeted script and audience. I applaud Universal in doing so, as that’s what truly makes these movies so special. Too often, studio greed expands the reach veering into PG-13 territory.
Queen Poppy sets out on a colossal task to unite the music tribes to enjoy each trolls’ music in perfect harmony. Clearly an opposite mission to insensitive Queen Barb, who rules with an ‘Off with their heads’ attitude. Kids will enjoy hearing the different styles of music in the lands, and may just learn something about the varied beats. While streaming at home, kids can tap a tambourine, keep rhythm with a drum, or a clang a classic cowbell for that matter.
Along the way, Queen Poppy and Branch, with their friends — Biggie (James Corden), Chenille (Caroline Hjelt), Satin (Aino Jawo), Cooper (Ron Funches), Guy Diamond (Kunal Nayyar), and Tiny Diamond, encounter what seems like a gazillion new trolls, — having countless laughs, sugary sweets, pinkie promises, and glitter explosions along the way.
The opposite demeanors of Queen Poppy and Branch continue—she the huggee, smiley, upbeat, ‘life is a bowl of cotton candy,’ to Branch’s dower, Eeyore sulk, ‘the glass is half empty,’— although a milestone occurs, Branch lets his feelings be heard. Saying to Poppy, “You never listen to me!” A great teaching moment as eventually, Poppy realizes that a good Queen should listen; after all, friends should listen to each other’s advice and perspectives.
Adults, the payoff occurs at the end of the film, with the grand finale song, “Just Sing,” that surely will be recognized during awards season, your youngsters can sing along and dance on their toes as home viewing is the only option. And parents, another reward, not only did you endure this kid-geared audience film, you’ve created a heartfelt memory with your child that is now, finally over— until the next time they beg for it.
Fun Fact: The Troll doll was invented in the 50s by the Danish woodcarver Thomas Dam, he opened a factory, made them out of plastic and marketed them as the “Good Luck Trolls” they were sold to kids.
Cast: Anna Kendrick, Justin Timberlake, J Balvin, Rachel Bloom, Flula Borg, Kelly Clarkson, James Corden, Ester Dean, Jamie Dornan, Gustavo Dudamel, Ron Funches, Caroline Hjelt, Aino Jawo, Kunal Nayyar, Ozzy Osbourne, Anderson.Paak, Anthony Ramos, Sam Rockwell, Betsy Sodaro, Karan Soni, Kenan Thompson, Charlyne Yi, with George Clinton and Mary J. Blige
Director: Walt Dohrn
Co-director: David P. Smith
Screenwriters: Jonathan Aibel, Glenn Berger, and Maya Forbes & Wally Wolodarsky and Elizabeth Tippet
Run Time: 1 Hour 30 Minutes