TROLLS (Movie Review)

***1/2 out of ****
Rated PG

(for mild rude humor)
Released: November 4, 2016
Runtime: 92 minutes
Director: Mike Mitchell
Starring:  Anna Kendrick, Justin Timberlake, Zooey Deschanel, Christopher Mintz-Plasse, Christine Baranski, James Corden, Jeffrey Tambor

Available to rent through Amazon Video and buy on Blu-rayDVD and 4K. Proceeds from purchases made through these links go to support this blog.

An Honorable Mention on My Top 10 List For 2016

This may be The Cutest Movie Ever.

Okay, it is The Cutest Movie Ever. But even if it’s not, Trolls is unmistakably a cinematic joy machine that genuinely elicits the most sincere forms of hyperbole. Granted, I’m not able to actually quantify if Trolls is the cutest most adorable movie ever made of all times ever and ever that’s totally my new favorite, but it sure feels that way.

DreamWorks Animation has taken these creepy pop culture tchotchkes and transformed them into kitschy candy gnomes that harmonize catchy tunes, spreading love and happiness wherever they go. The explosive color palette is the incarnation of their bliss, all embodied by these endearing little munchkins that thrive off of singing, dancing, and hug time.

I mean…right?!

But alas, it’s not all glitter and rainbows in this enchanted land. There are bigger, uglier, nastier creatures called Bergens who barely have a paradigm for happiness. They believe joy is restricted to brief fleeting moments that, worse yet, are only achieved by eating an actual Troll alive and whole! It’s enough to make you projectile poop frosted cupcakes! (Yes, one Troll does.)

When a group of innocent Trolls are endangered by the evil Bergen Chef, super positive Troll leader Poppy (Anna Kendrick) teams up with super cynical loner Branch (Justin Timberlake) – the one desaturated sourpuss of the whole clan – to go on a journey to confront the threat once and for all.

But for reals, guys, Trolls is a movie that on the surface seems easy to dismiss (even if you like it), and no doubt some will. But this is more than just a trifle. Sure, it doesn’t have the thematic complexity of Pixar or Disney at their best (looking at you, Inside Out and Zootopia), but a movie that achieves both this high level of artistry and all-consuming satisfaction should not taken for granted.

The film’s vibrant hues are the most obvious virtue, but even there one shouldn’t underestimate the precision of talent on display – led by director Mike Mitchell (big shout-out to him) – and how that cornucopia is used, distributed, and combined. It’s not just the colors that make us feel good but how they’re designed to do so. This is such a gorgeous movie to bask in.

An even more difficult needle to thread (and no, I’m not referring strictly to the felt-fabric scrapbook vignettes, which are totally awesome) is the level of pure elation this whole experience creates, and to such an infectious degree.

Yes, the addictive Timberlake-produced soundtrack that mixes classic covers with new tunes sure helps (especially the self-esteem power anthem “Get Back Up Again”), but they’re the funky icing to this sumptuous cake of emotional glee. The key ingredients here consist of vocal performances of boundless merriment and a truly smart, hilarious script that never once falls back on DreamWorks’ Animation’s historical punny crutch of pop culture references.

Yet even in its uninhibited delight, Trolls is not a shallow purveyor of the sad-averse dysfunction that Inside Out so rightly indicted. There are also moments of beautiful tenderness and real grace, showing in poignant fashion that joy isn’t a willful ignorance of reality; rather, it’s an overwhelming transformative power.

It’s a given that kids will love Trolls, but it will be a favorite of adults too, and not because of some “sophisticated edge” of mature humor to satiate them. On the contrary, adults will love how Trolls celebrates innocence, particularly in an age when so much of kids entertainment seems hell bent on undercutting it. And that, perhaps, is the thematic depth of Trolls; innocence isn’t just for kids, it’s for everyone.

But enough about dumb messages! OMGosh you guys, I can’t even with how much I love this movie! Trolls is totally the new comfort food, y’all, for adults as much as kids. I’m talking to you curmudgeons, too. Yes, I know you’ll sit there resisting the manifest charms and waves of euphoria that wash over you because you think that’s what you’re supposed to do when you’re adulting, but don’t! Like Poppy tells Branch, “Just stop resisting it.”

Seriously, in the future, when people of all ages are sad, they’ll say to each other, “I need to be happy. Let’s watch Trolls again!”

My goodness, I just want to eat this movie up! But be warned: you may not be able to resist hugging each other when the credits roll. Don’t fight it. Embrace the moment, and each other. Look, I can’t promise you that Trolls will give you all the feels, but it’ll definitely give you the feels that you want to feel. Indeed, the movie’s big hit song isn’t just irresistible, it’s also scientifically (and magically) true:

You can’t stop the feeling.

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