I have a favourite troll in this movie. The forever grumpy, forever alone Branch (Justin Timberlake, who is also executive music producer) is sarcastic and perpetually pessimistic – so much so that he’s kind of grey in the face, unlike the other trolls who radiate happiness and glow with all the psychedelic colours one can conjure up in a drug-addled brain.
Ever since they escaped the clutches of the troll-eating Bergens many years ago, the trolls have been living in an idyllic paradise of their own where party invitations spew glitter and group hugs are exchanged on the hour like clockwork.
No exceptions, unless you are Branch.
The trolls are the happiest creatures the world has ever known and they derive such joy from their hourly hugs that the only thing stopping them from hugging more often is that it would get in the way of their singing and dancing.
How (sickly) sweet is that?
Enter at your own risk; this is a crazy, colourful world from the creators of Shrek where a hippie spiritual guru (Russell Brand), singing plants, floating eyeballs, a walking, talking cloud (Walt Dohrn), and a creature that poops cupcakes all manage to coexist very happily.
Trolls is an ecstatically upbeat movie fuelled by a perpetual sugar high, hyperactivity and giddy exuberance. It is painted with all the colours of the rainbow, and then some. Its mantra must surely be happiness, singing, dancing! Sparkles! Glitter! Hugs! More glitter!
There is even a troll, aptly named Guy Diamond (Kunal Nayyar), who walks around without clothes and farts glitter, I kid you not.
Despite all this, or perhaps precisely because of it, Trolls somehow works.
Everything I thought would set my teeth on edge was exactly what made this DreamWorks animated film so darn lovable.
My favourite part? Whenever the trolls burst into scenario-appropriate songs. Trolls features some original numbers by Timberlake, plus several evergreen hits rearranged and sung by members of the cast. TImberlake’s vocals never really struck a chord in me until now.
In Troll Village, there is a song for every occasion and it is over-the-top dramatic and cheesy, but so spot-on that it makes you laugh and want to sing along. It is the soundtrack of their lives that you wish could be yours too.
Trolls is presented as a rescue mission story, led by the very pink and eternally optimistic Princess Poppy (Anna Kendrick) with an initially reluctant Branch, who is forced to tag along.
Their troll friends have got into a bit of a pickle and are now being kept under lock and key in Bergen Town, counting down the days till their demise.
The Bergens are counting down the days too, but with glee, because it is only once a year, on Trollstice, that they party hard and down a troll or three. These comically pessimistic creatures believe that the way to true happiness is by swallowing a troll and having it bounce around in their tummies.
There’s no one looking forward to Trollstice more than Prince Gristle (Christopher Mintz-Plasse), who has waited his entire life for this moment – but distractions of the romantic kind happen along the way (Zooey Deschanel’s scullery maid Bridget dispenses a learning chapter or two of her own), complete with Cinderella-esque moments and important lessons on love, life and the power of great hair.
And boy, is there a lot of hair in this movie. You can’t have a Trolls movie without the hair, and it certainly doesn’t disappoint. Their trademark bright and billowy crowning glory is taken to even greater heights here (Spontaneous growth! Weightlifting! Tarzan-worthy swinging!) and is truly a force to be reckoned with.
So go on and find your happy place in Trolls. It is a hoot and a half!
(Note: A Cantonese-dubbed version featuring Hong Kong’s Gin Lee and Phil Lam is also showing in cinemas.)
Director: Mike Mitchell
Cast: Anna Kendrick, Justin Timberlake, Zooey Deschanel, Christopher Mintz-Plasse, Kunal Nayyar, Walt Dohrn, Russell Brand