“Trolls World Tour” stars Anna Kendrick, Justin Timberlake, James Corden, Ozzy Osbourne, and Rachel Bloom. Released on April 10, 2020, the film has Poppy and Branch setting out to save the world from a power-hungry queen of rock.
The film is directed by Walt Dohrn and David P. Smith, and it is a sequel to the 2016 animated film, “Trolls”. Running out of options for your kids to do during quarantine hours? No need to worry, because we got a couple more family-friendly films this weekend, and guess what? They’re available to watch at home, but I’m pretty sure that you all knew that already. One of those “on-demand” films is surprisingly a follow-up to one of DreamWorks Animation’s successful films. You read that right. Poppy, Branch, and the rest of the gang are heading to your homes to spread some love and music this weekend. Originally, it was set to hit theaters this month, but because of the COVID-19 outbreak, Universal and DreamWorks Animation decided to release the film both in theaters and on demand, a strategy that has been used for lesser-known films from smaller studios. Clearly, this was their back-up plan since the pandemic began, but with all of the theaters being closed down right now, the film is going to have to settle with just the “on-demand” release. Given how popular this adorable, music-obsessed franchise is, it’s no surprise that the folks from DreamWorks want to keep on milking it until it’s all dried up. I thought “Trolls” was a solid reintroduction to Thomas Dam’s Troll dolls that’s filled with imaginative animation and likable characters, and I also thought that the Netflix show, “Trolls: The Beat Goes On”, was surprisingly a nice little distraction for people who happened to enjoy the 2016 film, mostly young kids. So I was very interested in seeing if the sequel can maintain the franchise’s rhythm without missing a single beat. With that in mind, let’s turn up the jams and find out if this film’s worth spending money on.
Set after the events of the first film, the story once again follows Poppy (Kendrick), the queen of the pop Trolls, and Branch (Timberlake), the over-cautious and good-hearted survivalist pop Troll, as they continue to bring peace and harmony to their homeland. They later discover that there are other types of Trolls scattered across six different lands with each of them devoted to a different kind of music: Pop, Funk, Classical, Techno, Country, and Rock. It’s every music fan’s dream come true. The musical world is suddenly threatened by the villainous Barb (Bloom), the queen of the Rock Trolls who plots to eliminate the competition so that rock n roll will reign supreme. With the fate of all music kind at stake, Poppy and Branch must travel across the world to unite the other Trolls and upstage Barb. This is another sequel that expands on its predecessor’s lore and introduces new allies and foes for the main characters to encounter. The first “Trolls” film brought us a colorful, arts-and-crafts-like fantasy where miniature creatures sing pop songs and spread good cheer. “Trolls World Tour” took this idea from the original and stretched it out even further by inviting other types of music to join in on the fun. So if you enjoy listening to any kind of music, whether it’s Pop, Country, or even Rock, this film is exactly what you need to get your body pumping. It is also a respectable way to introduce the young kids to these types of music without having to worry about the explicit lyrics and sexual references that we listen to nowadays. But aside from that, how is the actual film itself? Was it worth spending twenty dollars on? More importantly, will the kids enjoy it? Allow me to answer those questions with another question. Did you enjoy the first “Trolls” film? If your answer is yes, then you might enjoy this one as much as you did with its predecessor. If not, then its frenetic soul might leave you with a pretty bad headache. “Trolls World Tour” is more of the same in terms of the kid-friendly energy and the jukebox musical elements, but much bigger and way louder, but in the midst of what’s happening outside right now, it’s a decent little time-waster. There were a couple of small plot elements that managed to squeeze their way into the film’s 90-minute storyline. In addition to Poppy and Branch setting out to unite the different Trolls, we have Poppy trying to be a good queen, we have Branch attempting to confess his love to Poppy, and we have Cooper (Ron Funches) searching for the truth about who he really is. It’s a lot to take in when you merge those elements with its energetic pacing and an overabundance of corny cliches. Speaking of pacing, this film moved at a pretty fast pace compared to its predecessor in my eyes, which is fine for keeping the kids’ attention, but to me, it kind of ruined the film’s momentum as well as its chances to provide an experience that combines memorable storytelling with imaginative visuals. Despite those noticeable mistakes, I was able to appreciate “World Tour” for being a fun, vibrant, and heartfelt ball of fluff just like I did with “Trolls” less than four years ago. Similar to its predecessor, the film relied on likable characters, a talented voice cast, the animation, and its happy-go-lucky messages to provide some enjoyability for the young kids and their parents, and just like before, they were barely able to overcome its problematic narrative. While the overall plot is basic to a fault, its themes about appreciating others’ differences have a voice that deserves to be heard, especially during this day and age. Whether you like the film or not, you cannot deny this type of voice. The film’s characters were once again likable and they’re wonderfully voiced by their respective voice actors, especially Kendrick and Timberlake as Poppy and Branch respectively. I also thought the new characters were fun to watch as well, including the film’s new antagonist Queen Barb which I thought was a bit better than the villain from the first film in my opinion. Barb is the type of villain who shares the same goal as the hero, but is doing it for the wrong reasons. I like these types of villains because they don’t paint themselves as bad guys, they paint themselves as people who misunderstood the situation. She’s not a perfect cartoon baddie, but I was impressed with her personality regardless. Rachel Bloom had the opportunity to provide a sense of humor and energy into Barb, whether it’s by talking or singing rock n roll songs, and she pulled it off quite well. As for the film’s animation, it’s exactly what you’d expect from a CGI cartoon about trolls singing jukebox songs. It’s creative, radiant, well-detailed, and offbeat. The animation team really went "full commando" in making this world look like it came out of a huge arts-and-crafts project, and the character designs for the Trolls were very distinctive and ingenious. I also have to mention the film’s trippy sequences, which were completely bonkers. The terms “sugar rush” and “acid trip” made love to one another and gave birth to a baby, and that baby is “Trolls World Tour”. I know that sounds unusual, but that’s just how I describe my experience watching these kinds of scenes.
Overall, “Trolls World Tour” has enough heart and energy in its musical soul to entertain plenty of fans of the original, even though its storytelling failed to get the rest of the crowd all pumped up. While I do feel that it’s a tiny step down from its predecessor when it comes to the plot and the pacing, I had a nice time watching it at home due to its fun-loving characters, its animation style, its positive energy, and its relatable messages. It doesn’t reach the same heights as the other DreamWorks Animation sequels that I loved like “Shrek 2” and “Kung Fu Panda 2”, but it does reach the same heights as the other sequels that didn’t suck, so I’m considering that as a win. This is another suitable option that I would recommend to kids and their parents if they have nothing to watch.