[REVIEW] ‘Trolls World Tour’ or Isn’t All Music Fun?

If you’ve been a fan  of this blog for some time you know that I tend to be a tough sale when it comes to DreamWorks and in particular their comedies. For every Mr Peabody and Sherman that’s hilarious there are tons that fall flat. 2016’s Trolls is an interesting entry in their canon because while it didn’t work for me as a whole it did have a number of elements. I particularly loved the animation and music including the very catchy song by Justin Timberlake ‘Can’t Stop the Feeling’.

What I didn’t like in Trolls is the annoying characters and the oddly fascist message. Everyone in the land of the trolls must be the same. They must all like the same activities, music, colors etc. They are all even forced to hug at the same time every day. If they refuse to participate they are pronounced Scrooges and exiled. It seemed bizarre to me in this day and age to send a message about conforming to fit a crowd rather than increasing tolerance of all.

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So now we have the sequel Trolls World Tour, and I’m happy to say they fix this problem…ALMOST! Indeed, most of the world building and lore of the first movie is abandoned for a new dynamic where they are surrounded by nations of music. Poppy’s land is of course pop music and then there is Rock, Country, Classical, Techno and Funk.

Here we have the same problem of everyone having to like the same kind of music and my hope was by the end of the journey Poppy and company would learn to enjoy different music from each land. Unfortunately they don’t go that far. There is tolerance on a macro national level but not on an individual learning to appreciate all kinds of music level. (What a good lesson that would have been for kids…)

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The villain trying to take over all of trolldom is Queen Barb (Rachel Bloom) and she wants everything to be rock. Her evil plan is to gather the strings of all the lands for mass musical takeover. I think there is more of a rebellious streak in punk or heavy metal but it was fine (although when the strings are played/destroyed it’s not exactly a Thanos-level moment!).

I really enjoyed the animation in each musical world with the textures of the felt and hair. There are even sequences where they use 2D animation techniques to tell stories in a scrapbook, which of course I loved.

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In addition, going to see all the different musical lands was fun and well done. I can make nitpicks like why is Kelly Clarkson voicing the country troll Delta Dawn? If there was ever a part screaming for Reba McEntire this was it. She even has red hair! The funk world was particularly interesting as they have a musical montage that explains how the other music especially pop has misappropriated the work of POC songwriters for decades.

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They try to make room for other types of music beyond the 6 lands with bounty hunters of regaeton, kpop and yodeling but there are still obvious omissions like blues, salsa, broadway etc.  Nevertheless, kids will have a lot of fun with the music and will be no doubt dancing along to the songs watching at home. Unfortunately It seems like most of the cover songs were outdated. For example, in the pop covers they have songs like ‘Can’t Touch This’ from MC Hammer and ‘Wannabe’ by the Spice Girls. Surely they could have gotten something more recent?

Sadly the new songs aren’t much better. In fact, they are entirely forgettable, which is disappointing. I don’t know if they were trying too hard to match the appeal of the first film but the new songs pale in comparison.

All in all, Trolls World Tour is harmless for kids. It has some beautiful animation and sweet moments but it could have been much better. I so wish they had shown Poppy and Branch embracing all different kinds of music in the end and everyone being richer as a result. As it is, the world of Trolls ends pretty close to where it began, which is not what you want in a quest movie. The message is still you have to think like everyone else or there is a problem, and I don’t like that!

4.5 out of 10

Frown Worthy

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Trolls Review

trolls-2016-movie-1Today I got the chance to see the latest film from Dreamworks, Trolls. This is a film I wasn’t looking forward to as the trailers had been frankly terrible (need I remind you of the twerking troll that we can never forget…). But, I always try to go into films with an open mind, and this was no exception. So what did I think of Trolls?

Well, it’s not awful but it is very uneven.

trolls-movieBased on the old toys from the 90s, Trolls is a simple story geared towards little children. It is about Poppy (Anna Kendrick) the happy troll and Branch (Justin Timberlake) the grumpy troll who must work together to save the rest of the trolls from the evil bergens.

Along the way they sing pop songs…this is where some of that unevenness comes in. A few of the songs work like the catchy Can’t Stop the Feeling but most are complete throw-aways and most aren’t very long. For example, they sing Sound of Silence or September for under a minute, which feels weird to have all these abbreviated numbers. Trolls isn’t a very long movie and it felt like the songs were often there to puff up a weak script.

trolls4Once Branch and Poppy get to the bergen village the movie changes from a road trip to a Cyrano de Bergerac story where Poppy and the trolls work to help a scullery maid named Bridget get the self confidence to court the Bergen prince. This part I didn’t really enjoy very much and I particularly found Bridget to be an annoying character very badly voiced by Zooey Deschanel.

trolls3That said, there was a cheerfulness to Trolls that was infectious and made me smile. There were some nice moments of heart between Branch and Poppy and overall I think little kids will be entertained.

It’s very similar to Angry Birds Movie, so if you liked that than you will love Trolls. The message is a little better but the plots are very similar.

The voice casting was uneven. Like I said, I hated Zooey Deschanel but Anna Kendrick and Justin Timberlake were fine, and they certainly have the singing chops for the roles.

characters_bergens_birdgetUnfortunately the biggest surprise for me was the uneven animation. I love the felt feel to the character design on the trolls but did not like the design of the bergens. I know they are supposed to be the bad guys but I had a hard time watching them.

Most of the animation had a Lisa Frank 90s bright colors feel but then there were sections where the rendering felt cheap and surprisingly weak. Parts reminded me of low-budget fair like the Tinkerbell movies.

So, Trolls is passable entertainment. If you have small kids they will probably like it. It has some nice animation. It has a few fun songs but it also has some poor animation and annoying songs. It has characters I liked and didn’t like. It’s just a mixed bag movie if I ever saw one.

It’s certainly a million times better than last year’s Home so there is that to be grateful for.

Overall Grade- C

Check out my youtube review

Moana and Trolls Trailer Reviews

So today and yesterday we had 2 new trailers drop for Fall animated films, and I thought I would give you my quick thoughts. Let’s start with the trailer I’m most excited about for Disney’s Moana:

I personally don’t know how you walk away from this trailer and not be excited. Moana seems like a great well-rounded character. I love her character design and that she looks like a normal young lady. However, she is not the cliched warrior woman although clearly with that spear she can be fierce. I also love the way she stands up to Maui in the boat! The film looks like such an epic adventure with battles, sea travels, diving into the realm of monsters that all looked awesome.

It also looks very funny without being too modern and cheeky. The music sounds great. The visuals look breathtaking. I can’t wait!!!

On a less enthusiastic note. Let’s talk about the new Trolls trailer:

I’m not going to parse words I hate this trailer. I hate the way it is hiding behind the voice talent. I really don’t care who is voicing your characters. Don’t sell me on them. Sell me on the characters they are voicing. It shows a lack of confidence on your film if you are leaning so hard on the vocal talent.

I hate how much of the story it gives away. I hate how saccharine the story looks and it all feels so boring and bland. It’s not good when the main quote from your film is “this is a story about happiness”. How profound…

On the plus side, Trolls looks like it will entertain small children and the color palate is very appealing. The original song is catchy but the jukebox songs I’m not sold on.

I hate to say it but I’m getting Strange Magic vibes from this trailer…
I’m really bummed to because I really liked the 2nd trailer. Hopefully the movie will surprise me and be great like Kung fu Panda 3 or Lego Movie that also had trailers I hated.

What do you think of these trailers? Do they sell you on the films? Do you agree with my takes?

The Tale of 3 Terrible Trailers

After an epic day yesterday I wasn’t going to post today but we got a new trailer from Dreamworks and I couldn’t hold back my feelings.  Dreamworks released their trailer for the Fall release of Trolls and what a stinker of a trailer it is!  Don’t get me wrong, the movie could somehow be good (I didn’t like Peanuts or Lego trailers and loved those films) but everything from the dancing, to character design to everything looks awful.

It’s extremely frustrating when I know Dreamworks can produce quality work (seeing Kung fu Panda 3 tonight which has great buzz so I’m excited!).  The Panda and Dragon films are quality franchises and they’ve made amazing stand-alone films like Rise of the Guardians, Prince of Egypt, Spirit: Stallion of the Cimmaron.  Even Mr Peabody and Sherman I really enjoyed but then they squander all that talent on twerking dolls and annoying alien movies.  Why Dreamworks?  Why?

Unfortunately that wasn’t the only terrible trailer to come out for 2016 animated film.

We got a new Angry Birds trailer this week and it looks awful too.  I actually thought the teaser looked ok, better than expected, but this longer trailer looks at best on a Rio level of quality.  The battle between the pigs and the birds just doesn’t look good to me!

And then we got a Secret Life of Pets trailer and it was also very disappointing.  I was actually impressed with the teaser trailer enough to put it on my anticipated of the year.  Boy is that out the window with this new trailer.  I was so deflated to see Kevin Hart is the lead of the story and it is about organizing pets in some kind of rebellion.  That is such a tired concept and I am so sick of Kevin Hart.

So, needless to say my anticipation level for 2016 animation just sunk a little lower.  It could be a rough year folks!  At least we have Zootopia, Moana, Finding  Dory and Kubo and the Two Strings to look forward too.

And as I said there are bad trailers for good movies so we will see!

Am I being too tough on these 3 trailers?  What did you think?

Here is my youtube review of these trailers: