Made in a studio, straight to your laptop, really? This is what AMC theaters are so whiny about right now? It would be understandable if the feud went all over a feature worth watching, but Trolls World Tour? A loud, colorful ninety-minute music video? One that is more or less inspired off a toy? Yes, a toy. From over sixty years ago. You may say that toys are a big deal, especially when it comes to bringing people into movie theaters (or in this case, Video On Demand purchases). I get it, as my young days were full of a hundred different McDonalds Happy Meal toys. I know how a toy’s identity becomes whatever you decide when playing with it, but I also know that imagination in playtime is hard for a child to achieve if the toy is based on a movie character, and even harder still if the toy is based on a movie character based on a toy. (Whew!)
Nowadays, the flashy colors of light-up action figures and Barbie playsets are no longer a toy seller’s haven, as now, it’s all in pixels. Think of it like the countless times the story of Cinderella has been adapted over the centuries to fit the time and culture. 200 years ago, it could be tailored into a social commentary about female domestic oppression. In 2015, it could be a giant ad for a sparkly blue ballgown. The mindset about toys in this movie isn’t about adapting to the times, as the glass slipper here simply alters a few popular song lyrics as a way of staying recent; but really, it just consists of changing the “girl” to “troll” in “Girls Just Wanna Have Fun.”
This revisited world, however, steps it up from before, including the fun subcultures that even depicts some of those trolls with centaur bodies. Beyond just the pop trolls, other lands have trolls singing country, classical, techno, etc., similar to the elemental nations of Avatar: The Last Airbender. DreamWorks’ version even has its own Fire Nation knockoff: the rock n’ roll trolls, whose queen plans to make her music the only genre. Yet because of the feature’s overall weak adaptation to the present, the queen’s motive suffers from boredom. Essentially, she wants the sacred six strings to play a strum that will turn the nation into a unified body of rock n’ roll trolls.
Facing against this queen is Poppy, who now must assume her own royal responsibilities over the other pop trolls. The problem though is that she’s too naïve to embrace a proper mindset, as she ignores others who see the trolls’ clear differences, she thinks there’s no differences between them, that deep down they’re all the same. So with that, there’s one extreme from Poppy, and another extreme from the rock n’ roll queen, setting up a solid attempt at encouraging unity to children.
Here’s a big issue with that though: the hypocrisy. When Poppy and the gang reach the town of country singers, they’re shocked by how sad their songs are, so they counteract the atmosphere with what they call the most important songs ever. These include “Wannabe,” “Gangnam Style,” and “Everyday I’m Shuffling.” Seriously! What a foolish mockery! DreamWorks has no right to pretend that modern artists set the standard for good quality, especially over what their target audience’s parents, grandparents, and great-grandparents listened to!
Oh, yeah, and Branch is there too… sort of. Poppy maybe helped him develop his inner troll in the last movie, except his arc this time around is demeaned to the level where he must confess to Poppy his true love! Gasp! How original! Now, in complete fairness, these love/hate feelings he has toward Poppy peak well with the touching “Perfect For Me” sung by Justin Timberlake and Anna Kendrick, but that one slow meaningful moment of sabbath isn’t enough to redeem the six-days-worth of labor the rest of the loud runtime bestows.
Nothing seen here is an original idea, there’s constant plagiarism left-and-right, including a bland desert shot similar to Lawrence of Arabia. The closest it gets to original is the trippy imagery; some could actually find it funny though, particularly when looking at the laughably bad shots of photoreal animals pasted in. But most may find it weird, such as the unsettling presence of musical cattails. An argument could be made though that some parts of the visual game are stepped up, such as a vibrant neon underwater setup as “One More Time” plays, or a dance-battle between the sexes, which both mentally prepare the viewer for a more effective climax than what most kids’ media accomplishes.
It’s certainly worth knowing that one of the co-directors, Walt Dohrn, of the first Trolls, was a writer/director from the legendary first three seasons of SpongeBob Squarepants. That piece of experience helps create the sensation of being back in those grade school years, even if the yarn environment still looks like a cotton candy birthday cake that acquired diarrhea after a Taco Bell sprinkles meal. Yeah, the animation looks ugly, but it’s more importantly inconsistent: a live balloon and a live pennywhistle each move to a stop-motionstyle not seen in any of the troll characters, and one shot of a troll fist bumping the sun unintentionally happens twice between edit cuts. So this finished product deserved to ultimately be called, “sloppy,” like any art project a kindergartener brings home for the parents to just pretend they love, then quietly throw away when the kid’s not looking. It’s obvious that the five or so writers behind this were not on the same page when coming up with the line of logic.
It’s really best not to idolize toys, especially those that set unrealistic body standards; while the Good Luck Trolls dolls are not by any means guilty of it, the movie based off them, and the toys based off the movie based off them, are used as tools to increase the studio’s popularity by teaching kids that today’s musicians are better than the old classics. That’s not bringing differences together, that’s drifting diverse sides apart. So save those twenty dollars for a better use, and hopefully, Trolls World Tour will not make a profit the size of China.
If there is a specific movie you’d like to see graded, or if you are interested in guest blogging for my site, please email me at Trevor@TrevorsViewOnHollywood.com for your recommendations.
Have a great weekend, and happy watching!
Lawson, Richard. “Sorry, Parents: Trolls World Tour Is Going to Ruin Your Life.” Digital image. Vanity Fair. Condé Nast, 10 Apr 2020. Web. <https://www.vanityfair.com/hollywood/2020/04/trolls-world-tour-streaming-on-demand-review>.
Trolls World Tour. DreamWorks. Web. <https://www.dreamworks.com/movies/trolls-world-tour>.