Trolls (2016) ☆☆1/2(2.5/4): They sing, dance, and hug a lot….

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Animation feature film “Trolls” is as bright, fluffy, and chirpy as it can be during its 92-minute running time, and that is all. While it serves us with not only many colorful sequences which will exalt young audience but also frequent musical sequences which may delight you to some degrees, that does not wholly compensate for its predictable story and thin characterization, and the overall result is a mildly entertaining animation film which will soon be forgotten not long after you walk out of the screening room.

The setting of the story is pretty simple to say the least. Once upon a time, there were a bunch of Trolls living in some forest, and these tiny, furry creatures look quite cuter, prettier, chirpier compared to those big, ugly trolls from other fantasy tales. Looking variously colorful in their appearance, they love to sing, dance, and, above all, hug together, and everything looks happy and cheerful in their little world as Princess Poppy (voiced by Anna Kendrick) and other Trolls are eagerly waiting for their upcoming evening celebration party.

We learn that there was a dangerous time when they became prey to ugly, miserable creatures called the Bergens. Because eating the Trolls can make them feel happy, the Bergens captured and locked the Trolls together in a cage for eating them on a special day called ‘Trollstice’, but the Trolls managed to escape from the cage as led by their heroic king, and then they eventually found a remote safe spot in the forest where they have happily lived together for next 20 years.

While Poppy and others believe that they can continue their happy and joyful life as usual, Branch (voiced by Justin Timberlake) has been constantly concerned about the possible intrusion of the Bergens into their hidden place. Looking sullen, pessimistic in his gloomy appearance, he certainly looks far less bright and cheery than his fellow Trolls, and he does not care much about getting along with them as occupying himself with preparing for the worst situation. In fact, he does not even sing or dance, and he does not like hugging either.

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Unfortunately, Branch’s worry turns out to be right when Poppy and other trolls inadvertently draws the attention of Chef (voiced by Christine Baranski), a vicious Bergen who was once in the charge of preparing the Trolls for Trollstice in Bergen Town but was then banished due to the Trolls’ escape. After a number of Trolls are consequently taken away by Chef, Poppy decides to go to Bergen Town alone for rescuing those unfortunate Trolls, and Branch finds himself becoming her reluctant companion.

As they bounce along their journey together, the film keeps everything light and sweet. Besides the fluffy landscapes decorated with several weird creatures including big, furry spiders and a talking cloud, there is also a couple of musical scenes to lighten up the mood further, and Anna Kendrick brings considerable spirit and energy to her plucky character while Justin Timberlake is grumpy enough to be her good counterpoint.

The film also has some fun with how unhappy the Bergens are in their moody town, which makes a nice visual contrast to the bright, colorful world of the Bergens. Usually lurching like zombies, they look so glum and depressed in their perpetual unhappiness, and it is rather amazing that they have managed to live for years without committing suicide.

Not long after going inside the palace in Bergen Town, Poppy finds an unlikely ally in Bridget (voiced by Zooey Deschanel), a shy, introverted Bergen who has worked as a maid in the palace. When it turns out that Bridget has carried a torch for King Gristle Jr. (voiced by Christopher Mintz-Plasse) for a long time, Poppy decides to give some help to Bridget, and Bridget is glad to get an opportunity she never imagined before. With a little more colorful appearance to hide her real identity, she successfully approaches to the young king, but then there eventually comes a point when she has to go back to her plain position, and we accordingly get a blatant variation of that famous certain object in “Cinderella”.

trolls03While I was mostly entertained by all these things in the film, I was also disappointed with how safe and predictable it is especially during its climactic part. We already know that Bridget will make a right decision when Poppy and other Trolls are about to be served in front of Chef and other Bergens. We can clearly see from the beginning that Branch will be the one who will support and energize Poppy in the most hopeless moment, and we are not surprised at all when he finally sings in front of Poppy and other Trolls. After all, how can we possibly expect less than that from Timberlake?

Packaged with numerous songs, the soundtrack of the film is fairly good and Kendrick and Timberlake handle their respective songs well, but I must say the songs in the film are not as catchy as those wonderful songs in “La La Land” (2016). In case of “La La Land”, I have often hummed its songs for weeks since I watched it. In case of “Trolls”, I do not remember any of its songs particularly although I watched it during last night, and I do not even consider buying its soundtrack to bring back my memory of them.

“Trolls” is not entirely without charm and appeal, and I am sure that most kids will love its bright color and fluffy style, but it is not as memorable or distinctive as other recent animation films “Zootopia” (2016), “Moana” (2016), and “Kubo and the Two Strings” (2016), all of which I would wholeheartedly recommend instead. Believe me, you can have a more meaningful time with any of them.

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