The juvenile humor and dazzling use of color in “Trolls” makes it fancifully designed to entertain the young. There are a few elements – from the trippy psychedelic look to retro selection of music – that may lure adults, but those are not plentiful enough to give the film a broad, all-ages appeal.
“Trolls” is based on the line of toys, also known as Dam dolls, that are best known for the wild locks of hair that stand straight above their heads. The dolls have been around since 1959 and have spawned a variety of videos and games.
The big-screen version has the trolls living in hiding after years of being eaten by a group of monsters known as the Bergen, who believe the only to truly feel happiness is to eat a troll. The tranquil life of the trolls is disrupted when a handful of them are kidnapped and put on the menu for King Gristle (Christopher Mintz-Plasse). It’s up to the spunky Princess Poppy (Anna Kendrick) to save them. She enlists a gloomy troll named Branch (Justin Timberlake) to help her in her rescue mission.
The quest turns into a road trip full of flashy images and music, with the trolls performing classic tunes such as “The Sound of Silence,” “Hello,” “True Colors,” “September” and “Can’t Stop the Feeling!”
The classic tunes get a nice punch from the solid voice casting. Anna Kendrick continues to show off her musical skills while Zooey Deschanel and Gwen Stefani also shine. It’s a little strange that Timberlake was cast to play a troll who refuses to sing because of a family tragedy. But, he makes the most of his limited musical moments.
Christine Baranski brings a fun wickedness to her role as Chef and Russell Brand is on target with his voice work for the very spiritual Creek.
Directors Walt Dohrn and Mike Mitchell have infused the film with a such a downpour of color and glitter it’s as if a crafts store has exploded. Most of this flood comes in the form of the wild hairdos that the Trolls can make grow, shrink and change color as needed.
If only the story was as explosive as the visuals. The thin script often goes on pause to present another musical number in a blinding color. It’s a design that will entertain youngsters but eventually grows old for more mature viewers.
There’s nothing particularly great or awful about “Trolls.” But, compared to recently animated releases like “Storks,” “Finding Dory” or even “The Secret Life of Pets,” “Trolls” lacks the broad humor and smart writing to give it the same wide audience.
The overall design of the film is as frazzled as a troll’s hairdo. Because of that, the animated movie will be hair today and gone tomorrow.
Cast: Anna Kendrick, Justin Timberlake, Zooey Deschanel, Russell Brand, Gwen Stefani
Directors: Walt Dohrn, Mike Mitchell
Rating: PG (rude humor)
Opens: Friday, Nov. 4