Francesca Rudkin is an entertainment reviewer for NZ Herald.

Movie review: Trolls

The Trolls are led by King Peppy (Jeffrey Tambor) and his daughter Poppy (Kendrick).
The Trolls are led by King Peppy (Jeffrey Tambor) and his daughter Poppy (Kendrick).

If you take anything out of this perky family animation, it's the power of song. As Pharrell Williams did with Happy in Despicable Me 2, Justin Timberlake gives Trolls the catchy theme song Can't Stop the Feeling, which will have you smiling and, if you're an 8-year-old, dancing out of the theatre.

It's a brilliant ploy, as althoughsweet, feel-good and glittery, this isn't the most adventurous or imaginative adaptation of a toy craze. If you're unfamiliar with Trolls, all you need to know is they're colourful little creatures, originally from the 90s, with crazy sticky up hair and who like nothing more than singing, dancing and hugging. They're also fond of scrapbooking.

A scene from the animated film, Trolls.
A scene from the animated film, Trolls.

The Trolls are led by King Peppy (Jeffrey Tambor) and his daughter Poppy (Anna Kendrick), the happiest troll ever born, and they live deep in the forest, hidden from troll-munching monsters, the Bergens. That is, until Poppy throws the biggest dance party celebration ever - with eye-catching fireworks - and gives away their location to a disgraced and ostracised Bergen chef, voiced by Christine Baranski.

Chef is the Smurf's Gargamel of the Troll's world, and after capturing a bum belt full of Trolls, she redeems herself in the Bergen world by bringing King Gristle jnr(Christopher Mintz-Plasse) his first taste of troll. You see, the Bergen, which, as my son pointed out, look like they'd walked out of The Boxtrolls movie, believe they can experience happiness only by eating a happy Troll.

Combined with upbeat music (there's something for most generations) and eye-popping animation, Trolls may be too schmaltzy for some, and that's where Branch (Timberlake) comes in. A pessimist, Branch is a survivalist who spends his days preparing for the return of the Bergen rather than hugging on the hour, and reluctantly joins Poppy on her quest to save the kidnapped Trolls.

A scene from the animated film, Trolls.
A scene from the animated film, Trolls.

Although the story isn't original (Shrek, Cinderella and Cyrano lend their influence), the design of the craft-loving Trolls is refreshing. They've been crafted out of tactile art supplies such as felt, and give us a break from the standard glossy animation.

This is the kind of film that will cheer up post-election America - one character farts glitter while another poops cupcakes. Okay, so maybe it will cheer up just the kids. But it will at least give adults a chance to explain who Paul Simon, Lionel Ritchie and Earth, Wind and Fire are.

There's little memorable about Trolls, but you got to hand it to these weirdly happy little people - they sure know how to put a smile on a kid's face.

Verdict: A fun mix of music and animation.

Cast: Anna Kendrick, Justin Timberlake
Director: Walt Dohrn, Mike Mitchell
Running Time: 92 mins
Rating: G

- TimeOut

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