Film: “Trolls”; Directors: Mike Mitchell, Walt Dohrn; Cast: Anna Kendrick, Justin Timberlake, Zooey Deschanel, Christopher Mintz-Plasse, Christine Baranski, Russell Brand, Gwen Stefani, John Cleese, James Corden and Jeffrey Tambor; Rating: ***
Directed by Mike Mitchell and Walt Dohrn, “Trolls” is a colourfully vibrant, adventure, fairytale, based on the long-haired cherub dolls of the same name, which were created in 1959 by a Danish woodcutter and fisherman, Thomas Dam. These dolls are known as “Good Luck” dolls and have been a fad ever since.
The narrative begins in a staid format with the opening of a storybook, giving us an insight into the Troll universe. It tells us how the Trolls, who lived in a perpetual state of happiness in the middle of the woods, were now living in fear of their sworn enemy, the gloomy and miserably unhappy creatures called The Bergens.
It was after The Bergens discovered that they could feel happiness by eating a Troll, they caged the Trolls in a tree and conducted an annual Troll-eating ritual called the “Trollstice”.
During one such Trollstice festivities, Troll King Peppy (Jeffrey Tambor) leads the Trolls to escape and go into hiding, thereby depriving the Bergen crown prince Gristle Jr (Christopher Mintz- Plasse) of the taste of his first troll.
Furious with the chief Chef (Christine Baranski) under whose charge the Trolls were kept, the Bergen King Gristle Sr (John Cleese) banishes her.
Twenty years pass. The Trolls are still in hiding, till the Troll Princess, Poppy (Anna Kendrick), decides to throw the biggest, loudest rave party in celebration of their independence, thereby attracting the attention of the Bergens.
With a bunch of Trolls kidnapped, what follows is pure adventure with Princess Poppy along with Branch (Justin Timberlake) the understated neurotic Troll, rescuing everyone and returning home safely.
With pop music that includes recognisable pop tunes like “Move Your Feet” to Lionel Ritchie’s “Hello” to Justin Timberlake’s “Can’t stop the feeling” and Cyndi Lauper’s “True Colours”, the film is truly a pulsating, musical fare. Also with fast moving pranks and lessons about happiness, the film is enchanting and real.
The direction is crisp and taut. Visually, the animation design seems inspired by the old 1970s cartoons.
Nevertheless, the film is a riot of colours. The frames sparkle like a rainbow. With their colourful, fluorescent, candy floss like hair, the Trolls are a delight to watch and they are aptly contrasted with the ugly teeth jutting monsters – The Bergens.
The characters are aptly voiced by the ace star cast, but it is Timberlake as Branch, Deschanel as the scullery maid Bridget — the love interest of Price Gristle — along with Kunal Nayyar as Guy Diamond and the character Cloud Guy, who stand out among the few.
Overall, “Trolls” is infectious, as it is not too preachy while balancing the universal truth about happiness. It will appeal to children and adults alike.
By Troy Ribeiro