Taking advantage of ODEON‘s kids club means that our daughter can see fairly new films and it doesn’t cost an arm and a leg! With the added bonus that all other people in the screen are with children and they don’t care if someone makes noise or has to go out to visit the little girls room during the film, it makes for an enjoyable cinema experience.
Obviously being a kids club, the films showing wouldn’t necessarily be the ones I would pick but it doesn’t mean they’ll be bad. So this weekend we saw DreamWorks’s Trolls. My memory of the Trolls franchise stems entirely from owning a couple of the figures when I was a kid. The Spaceman Troll and Easter Bunny Troll were the ones I had, both with the stereotypical huge colourful plume of hair and over-exaggerated cute features.
When this film was announced I assumed it was another based on something popular 25 years ago, aimed at children but trying to rely on the nostalgia factor that only their parents would have. Needless to say I had no intention of seeing it. But I do have to say I’m glad I did!
The Trolls themselves have been updated, much more colour, many different looks but most importantly all very marketable. The plot of the film boils down to Poppy, the happiest Troll ever born, heading out on a mission to rescue some of her Troll friends after they are captured ready to be eaten by the miserable Bergens. The ‘bad guys’ believe that eating Trolls is the only way they can be happy so they celebrate an annual festival filled Trollstice where they devour the colourful creatures.
There are no surprises in the core storyline, the heroine sets out on a journey she is not prepared for on what is sure to be a suicide mission, is aided by the reluctant and only miserable Troll, Branch, and adventure ensues. Dicing with death, bonding through shared experiences and finding an ally in an unexpected place are all things we have seen before but there is something different about this film.
Firstly, the songs are great. I knew music was going to feature heavily in the movie but the seamless mix of existing, well known tunes with original songs was fantastic. If you don’t end up tapping your feet at some point during the film then you have no musical bone in your body. Since returning from the cinema I have already re-watched some of the songs on YouTube. The songs wouldn’t be as good if it wasn’t for the visuals they go along with them.
Particularly with Poppy’s song as she sets out on her rescue mission, it’s a happy song about not giving up but what you are watching is a vulnerable creature coming so close to death on numerous occasions, even to the point of being eaten by a few strange animals! I felt a smile creep across my face as I realised this film could actually be enjoyable.
Secondly, some of the themes and events in the film are a lot more adult than you would expect. The humour especially is quite often more mature than the target audience of the film. While all the kids were transfixed by the bright colours and funny faces, I was laughing at the sarcasm and general wit that some of the lines were drenched in. Also I don’t care how old you are, a Troll farting glitter will always be hilarious.
There are very dark aspects to the film as well. The threat of death is always there for the Trolls and when the Bergens are after them, it is such a contrast to the bright and cheerful aspects. Branch, is miserable and refuses to sing and dance like a normal Troll because his Grandmother was eaten by a Bergen when he was singing, and we even have a turncoat Troll who sells the others out to save himself! If you pay attention to what’s actually happening you’ll see it’s not actually much of a kids film!
It is a weird film for sure, with some scenes looking like they were thought up in the midst of a drug fueled fever dream. I found myself shaking my head to check that what I was seeing was actually happening. But just like the songs, it’s the weirdness that sets this movie apart from similar properties.
Of course there is a happy ending with the Trolls showing the Bergens they can be happy all the time and Branch finds his happiness and love with the help of Poppy. The Chef Bergen gets thrown out of the city along with the Troll Traitor and they all live happily ever after. While there is very little originality in the writing and the story is fairly disjointed, I still enjoyed the film. Do bear in mind that I am a know for enjoying traditionally bad films ( 2003’s Daredevil for example), so take my review with a pinch of salt.
The voice talent involved is great with most of the actors suiting their characters well. Anna Kendrick and Justin Timberlake voice Poppy and Branch respectively. They have great chemistry which is more than can be said for Zooey Deschanel and Christopher Mintz-Plasse who are the vocal chords behind Bridget and King Gristle, this believe it or not is he main romance of the film but it wasn’t entertaining or interesting.
Christine Baranski, Russell Brand, James Corden and Gwen Stefani all lent their voices to characters as well as John Cleese, Jeffrey Tambor and Kunal Nayyar. the voice cast is impressive and used well, although if Russell Brand is going to be in a film they really need to think of another way to write him instead of the hippie/arrogant character that he is in real life, it’s boring.
So as you can tell I enjoyed this movie, but not because it’s a good film, as it isn’t. I am definitely not part of the target audience but there was plenty that I could take away having enjoyed. It’s probably not a film I would go out of my way to see again but the fact that it was completely different from what I was expecting added to my enjoyment. Lastly, the reference to the original toys at the beginning of the film was very clever!
If you see this film on the TV when channel surfing one day, give it a watch, it’s inoffensive and fun but not one that will stick with you. Hug time!!! (That’s a reference to the film I realise people will only get if they’ve seen it, but never mind)
Trolls gets another 3 beans out of 5 on the Geekstalk.
Seen the film? What did you think? Let us know in the comments below.