Free Press Journal

Trolls is a joy-filled saga


Cast: Anna Kendrick, Zooey Deschanel, Justin Timberlake, Christopher Mintz-Plasse, Jeffrey Tambor, Christine Baranski, John Cleese, Russell Brand, James Corden, Gwen Stefani, Quvenzhané Wallis.

Directors: Mike Mitchell & Walt Dohrn

This 3D animated flick isn’t strictly for kids as you might think. OK, “Trolls” is populated by a host of adorable creatures (and some ugly too) all voiced by A-list music-makers with a soundtrack peppered with covers of super duper tracks from yesteryear (example, Simon and Garfunkel’s The Sound of Silence, Cyndi Lauper’s True Colours, Lionel Richie’s Hello) Which means this film will appeal to golden oldies. Or should that read oldie goldies? But music and loveable characters apart, the plot and above all, the moral/message is what makes Trolls, a stand-out.

The story goes something like this: Trolls are the favoured food of a monster race called Bergens, who strangely, inexplicably believe that only by eating Trolls will they be really happy. Who told them that? No one knows.

Unsurprisingly, the Trolls and their King Peppy (Jeffrey Tambor) flee to a far away refuge where, for very many years they lead sheltered lives filled with music, dancing and singing. This is something that peppy Troll Princess Poppy (Anna Kendrick) really enjoys; but alack and alas.

The activity willy-nilly brings the ogres to their very doorstep. So, Poppy is forced to seek help from perpetually morose, non-musical Branch (Timberlake) to save her friends. There’s a reason why Branch refuses to sing which is revealed in due course by screenwriters Jonathan Aibel and Glenn Berger.

Eventually, Branch sheds his grumpiness and taps a foot, but before that happens, viewers can listen to songs like “Get Back Up Again,” in which Poppy travels alone through a dangerous land and later, infectious numbers like “Move Your Feet” and “Sunshine Day” which move the narrative along.

The story takes an interesting turn in the Bergen capital, where the Trolls encounter a sad and lonely kitchen maid Bridget (Zooey Deschanel), who is besotted with King Gristle (Christopher Mintz-Plasse) Bridget belongs to the ranks of the enemy, but kind hearted Poppy refuses to escape without helping Bridget impress the object of her infatuation with a make-over: new hairdo, new clothes;
only thing, instead of a glass slipper, Bridget wears clodhoppers and leaves one behind in Cinderella-like fashion.

Now, the film delves into matters profound. Princess Poppy tells the Trolls that happiness is an inner feeling and not dependent on something you eat, or what you possess.

There are other salutary lessons too: about resourcefulness (this we see from the Trolls) never giving up, joy, hope and optimism (courtesy, Poppy) and self-acceptance (Bridget).

The vocal talent (an all star cast) gives life to the characters in Mitchell and Dohrn’s zesty, colour filled delight  but children will also learn about danger and malevolence (via the Bergen Adviser) and sadness (the reason for Branch’s surliness) and above all, bravery, courage, empathy, friendship and happiness.