Trolls are a happy group. They are always upbeat and singing. Bergens, on the other hand, are giants, never able to find true happiness. The only way they can experience happiness is by eating Trolls. The Bergens have an annual tradition where the entire kingdom gathers to have a Troll feast. King Gristle Sr. (John Cleese) is excited to have his son Gristle (Christopher Mintz-Plasse) eat his first Troll. As Chef (Christine Baranski) goes to fetch a Troll for Gristle, they discover the King Poppy (Jeffrey Tambor), king of the Trolls, has led the Trolls on a daring escape. With his son left disappointing, never to experience true happiness, King Gristle Sr. banishes Chef.
Twenty years after the escape, King Peppy’s daughter, Poppy (Anna Kendrick) is planning a huge celebration. It will be the biggest, loudest, wildest party ever. There is one Troll, Branch (Justin Timberlake), who is not happy. Branch warns Poppy against throwing the bash, afraid it will alert the Bergens of their location. Knowing Branch is a bit paranoid, and wanting to properly celebrate their freedom, Poppy throws the party anyway.
As luck would have it, the exiled Chef sees the celebration and captures a handful of Trolls. Chef takes her score back to King Gristle, in hopes of bringing happiness to the Bergens and regaining her former place in the kingdom.
Following in her father’s footsteps, Poppy sets off to rescue her friends before they are eaten. Seeing as Branch knows the Bergens better than any other Troll, he reluctantly accompanies Poppy on her quest. Poppy and Branch must not only rescue the other Trolls, but avoid becoming part of the feast themselves.
Though you may not recognize them at the time, the cast is packed full of big names. What I like about this is that you aren’t distracted by single voices standing out, taking you momentarily out of the movie. Trolls casts all kinds of stars from John Cleese, James Corden, Russell Brand, and Zooey Deschanel to Anna Kendrick and Justin Timberlake, who does surprisingly little singing. It almost seems Timberlake is trying to make you appreciate his acting skills while deliberately avoiding his most notable talent.
While the story has been told time and time again, it doesn’t feel old or overdone. What makes this work is the way the story is presented. Exposition and cut scenes are told through scrapbook pages. It helps pass the slower parts of the tale in an interesting way. Also, small details are not overlooked. If you pay attention to the background, you will notice that most of the surfaces are made of felt. It’s a little touch that adds depth, both literally and figuratively, to the movie. Bright colors and catchy songs performed more than ably by the cast help add to the experience.
The songs are perhaps where the movie really shines. Credit must be given to writers Jonathan Aibel and Glenn Berger and directors Walt Dohrn and Mike Mitchell. At several key moments in the film, they cleverly use songs to really punctuate what is happening on screen. And these aren’t just catchy pop tunes made just for the movie, they throw in some older classics that parents will enjoy.
Cute characters, bright visuals, a good soundtrack, and plenty of humor that can be appreciated by kids and adults alike, make Trolls an enjoyable movie. And at an hour and a half, it’s just short enough that it doesn’t over stay its welcome and younger kids won’t lose interest. Trolls makes for a good family movie day.