Verdict: It’s fun, happy, and cheesy – like many other kids’ movies.
Shrek was not your typical kids’ movie. The ugly, scary ogre actually turns out to be the hero, and the princess does not end up with a prince, but lives as an ogre happily ever after. Shrek broke free of the tropes Disney had created in the kids’ animation film industry, and was still a huge success. Soon after, Disney came under fire for perpetuating stereotypes, an image it has strived to change ever since. Trolls, the new animated comedy by the creators of Shrek, sadly brings back the old tropes. There are the Trolls – your kind, fun-loving, perpetually happy, good guys, and the Bergens – ugly, distorted, miserable creatures, who want to eat trolls, so they can be happy, too.
The characters of the movie are fairly typical. The good guys sing, dance, and hug all day. Several years ago, their king freed them from the Bergens, who would eat them on a special day every year, which they called the Trollstice. Ever since, they moved to a secret location, where no Bergen could find them. Or so they thought. When Princess Poppy (Anna Kendrick) grew up and threw the biggest celebration the trolls have ever seen, they attracted the attention of one particular Bergen – the Chef (Christine Baranski) who was banished during the escape of the trolls. Chef gets her revenge when she gatecrashes the party, steals some trolls like she were picking up nuts from the floor, and marches off to Bergen Town. Now, it is up to Poppy and the little angry troll Branch (Justin Timberlake) to save
their her friends and teach the Bergens the secret to true happiness.
The first half of the movie is an audiovisual delight for kids. It is resplendent with happy songs, colorful animation, fun-loving Trolls, and plenty of laughs. Everyone comes to love Poppy and her happiness is contagious. It is only in the second half, when you meet the Bergens, that you realize that the movie is really about them. They are unhappy because they have been told by generations of their elders that the only way they can be happy is if they eat trolls. The Bergens do come to realize later that the happiness they seek is inside them. They were the more realistic ones, and definitely funnier than the Trolls, who get annoying after a point of time. The short romance between Prince Gristle Jr. (Christopher Mintz-Plasse) and ‘scullery maid’ Bridget (Zooey Deschanel) can even make an adult smile.
What does not work for the movie is that it is trying too hard to be funny. In its efforts to be culturally diverse, the writers forgot that the different accents of the trolls also make no sense, since they all live together in one tiny place. Yet, even with its cheesy ending, the constant singing, and the eye-rolling action, the movie leaves you with a positive feeling, and as you look at your watch (or your phones) to check the time, you too, would wish for that hug at the end of every hour.
Why You Should Watch This Movie:
Your kids will love it. While they are young, let them enjoy their world of music, dance, hugs and happiness, like the trolls. Meanwhile, you can connect with the Bergen inside you. Just make sure you don’t eat your kids!