One of the first major 2020 cinema releases affected by the COVID-19 outbreak, Trolls: World Tour was released by Universal as a VOD rental just weeks after cinemas closed. While the film unfortunately didn’t see a global release, the fun and enjoyment can be experienced at home just as well. Trolls: World Tour is the perfect antidote for children looking for a new film to amuse them, and for families to come together to enjoy.
In this sequel to the 2016 film Trolls, Queen Barb of the Rock Tribe (Rachel Bloom) wants to unite all the Troll tribes’ music including pop, funk, classical, techno and country. Queen Poppy (Anna Kendrick) and Branch (Justin Timberlake) of the pop tribe venture to meet Queen Barb and help unify the Troll kingdom by bringing all the music together again. But Queen Barb has a far more dastardly scheme in mind, and the entire Kingdom is in peril. It falls to Poppy and Branch and their allies including Biggie (James Cordon), Delta Dawn (Kelly Clarkson) and Hickory (Sam Rockwell) to save the kingdom and unite the Troll tribes before it’s too late.
Anna Kendrick and Justin Timberlake grab you from the start with a big musical number, full of visual gags and cute Trolls a-plenty. Yet before all of this, we are introduced to the big baddie of the film. Not a Troll eating Bergin, but one of their own. A Troll. A Troll who wants to take over this bright, vibrant world with hard, heavy rock! It’s not the most dangerous sounding of plots, but it certainly allows this family film to become a jukebox of fun.
From the opening minutes of Trolls: World Tour, you are reminded why the original stood up so well with audiences young and old. The colours and textures burst from the screen with so much energy, bling and detail that you’re instantly taken into a new toe-tapping musical adventure. Poppy and Branch return for another adventure, this time traversing many different realms of the as-yet-unseen Troll kingdom which is made up of different genres of music. Each realm has unique sounds, looks and Trolls which allows director Walt Dohrn and the backing of DreamWorks Animation to fully crank up the fun.
The animation is where Trolls: World Tour soars as much, if not more, than the original. So much attention to detail goes into every scene and sequence, with something to see and chuckle at every few seconds. Textures, sounds, and colours burst from each realm to represent individual personalities and tribes. The new realms allow much more variation in proceedings than we were treated to before, fusing musical genres into the style and sounds of the animation that our heroes experience.
Being a film based on music, the pop culture references are thin, but the jukebox hits are high. With leading performances from Kendrick and Timberlake backed up by veterans of music such as Kelly Clarkson, Mary J Blige and Gustavo Dudamel, rest assured that each song and musical number has a unique touch. Each Troll adds a bespoke spin to their tunes, relating to the story and the characters themselves, keeping things fresh and amusing as possible. And as expected, the musical numbers showcase more screen-popping colours, textures and silly animated humour.
But away from all the fun, glitter, music, candy and silliness lies the real point to all of this – the morality and theme of unity, equality and acceptance. Together, they learn to enjoy everyone’s differences, and make lots of new friends in the process. The idea of being who you were born to be, but living in unity and sharing with others echoes through the music and characters. Lots of new realms and characters mean lots of diversity, personality and a moral message. The musical strings that are the MacGuffin here represent a unique interest or way of life – taking them all away means taking away what it means to be, well, unique. This is what our heroes are out to do – unite everyone and live in peace, harmony and understanding. Enjoy everyone’s differences and make lots of new friends in the process. The morality of this may go over the heads of many young viewers, but they’ll still take away a good understanding of friendship from it all.
Trolls: World Tour could be looked on initially as a lazy idea that hops from one song to another, but it’s much more than that. It uses music as a tool for both comedy and morality. With a strong voice cast bringing a real diverse group of Trolls to life, it adds lots of new lore to the franchise without repeating anything from the original film. It keeps emotions to the forefront, to balance out the humour, but always keeps spirits high and toes tapping for an enjoyable 90 minutes of Troll-tastic entertainment.
Directed by: Walt Dohrn, David P. Smith
Written by: Jonathan Aibel, Glenn Berger, Maya Forbes, Wallace Wolodarsky, Elizabeth Tippet
Cast: Anna Kendrick, Justin Timberlake, Rachel Bloom, James Corden, Ron Funches, Kelly Clarkson, Sam Rockwell, Mary J. Blige, Kenan Thompson
Poppy and Branch discover that there are six different troll tribes scattered over six different lands. Each tribe is also devoted to six different kinds of music — funk, country, techno, classical, pop and rock. When rockers Queen Barb and King Thrash set out to destroy the other music, Poppy and Branch embark on a daring mission to unite the trolls and save the diverse melodies from becoming extinct.