Trolls are terribly overbearing creatures that enjoy three things: singing, dancing and cuddling. Sounds unbearable to sit through an entire film in the company of these fictional creations doesn’t it? Well, somehow, Mike Mitchell and Walt Dohrn have managed to craft a feature that is just self-aware and tongue-in-cheek enough that it’s let off the hook. But only just.
One day a year, the grumpy Bergens eat Trolls, for it’s the only way they can feel any semblance of happiness in their dull, miserable lives – until the Trolls escape, and form a new community as far away as they can. However, given their leader Poppy (Anna Kendrick) has an inclination to host elaborate, loud and colourful parties, their ability to blend in and go unnoticed is compromised, and eventually they are discovered by the Bergens, and a collective of them captured and taken back to the kingdom they had once fled from.
Poppy is hellbent to save her friends, and requires the help of Branch (Justin Timberlake), the one cynical Troll who was always against the parties, convinced it would lead to their demise – and he was right. But he decides to lend a hand nonetheless, and the pair set off to find their fellow Trolls and bring them back to safety, and away from the clutches of Prince Gristle (Christopher Mintz-Plasse). But to do so they need somebody on the inside – and that’s where the former’s housemaid Bridget (Zooey Deschanel) comes into play.
The reason Trolls works as a movie is because we adopt the cynical perspective of Branch, as he represents the adults in the crowd. It’s through his incredulous eye we watch on, able to find the humour in the absurd, over-the-top lifestyle the Trolls maintain. That’s not to say the parents will simply sit there sighing at everything, however, for the film does carry a positive message that can inspire us all: of finding the happiness within ourselves, and not feeling that we need any artificial substances to evoke pure elation, for it exists in us.
What Trolls is ridiculing – the singing, dancing and cuddling – are the same thing that the kids will take at face value, and love this film for, which isn’t an easy balance to get right. So as we sneer, they smile, and the film somehow manages to cater for both demographics, allowing us all to take something away – albeit completely contrasting – from the very same scene.