Trolls: World Tour (2020)

“We need to sing them the most important songs in all history.” “Yes, but which ones?” “ALL OF THEM!”

Joel’s rating: 4 out of 5 musical strings

Joel’s review: OK, so, when I originally watched the first Trolls movie (Dreamworks 2016, not the old Sonny Bono one or the one with ‘Oh my gooooooooood!”), I wasn’t that impressed. I mean, it was colorful, bouncy, and entertained the kids, sure, but I watched it with a younger child and figured I wouldn’t ever watch it again unless I was, again, watching with a kid. It’s harmless fun but not my kind of viewing pleasure. And so, watching Trolls: World Tour, I was also watching with a child and didn’t expect a big difference.

I didn’t expect to enjoy it so much. I’m kind of shocked. Mind you, I like animation, but I’m a bit fussy on what I really like. I watch a lot, but there is a lot that I will only watch once out of curiosity and I doubt I will ever watch again.

Summary: Our village of Trolls from the first movie gets a message from Barb, Queen of the Rock Trolls (music style, not stone, but what a great pun!), voiced by Rachel Bloom . Poppy, Queen of the pop music trolls (voice by Anna Kendrick), is excited by the idea of other trolls in the world and exuberantly looks forward to meeting them, without realizing that Barb wants to eliminate all forms of music except for her own rock and roll. Some of Poppy’s friends, like Branch (her sometimes protector from the first movie voiced by Justin Timberlake) are not so sure of the situation, but Poppy is a bit headstrong and isn’t listening.

Trolls WT does have a few things I didn’t harmonize with, but most of them are small. Of course the plot is simple and there are a few moments of convenience to move the plot along. There are a few jokes that are aimed so much at little kids that I had to shake my head. And there is a little stereotyping within the different tribes of music trolls (Pop, Rock, Country, Classical, Techno, and Funk). None of that was very jarring for me though, usually a quick little thing and then the movie strummed along to the next scene.

But what did I like? Well, first, the film does not take any time getting to the plot. The assumption is that we know the main characters and that we’ve seen the trailers, so the opening scene immediately lays out Barb’s intentions and shows us both the antagonists and that there are other trolls in this universe. Quick and efficient! And because the film is about the music itself, the songs chosen do not seem as clunky as from the first movie. Within the world of these trolls, it makes sense. The movie even pokes fun at the idea a couple of times.

The textures of the animation are pretty incredible, too. Yes, lots of color and bright things, but as we drift away from the pop troll village, each area has it’s own feel to it, and in some cases looks like the fabric of the world is made from different stuff (especially the fabric of the country troll region… heh heh!). And a LOT of little in-jokes based on these different areas as well.

Characterization is good for what kind of film this is. I mean, it isn’t Citizen Kane, but it isn’t The Emoji Movie, either (oh crap, I named the thing that must not be named!). They even use an old trope that I normally despise in films but, since here they set it up right away and in a way that makes sense, it works. The voice cast comes off as phenomenal for the most part (somehow, I recognized Ozzy Osbourne as the voice of Barb’s elderly father). While we do see the six main music kingdoms, we also see some of the subgenres of music represented as well, partly as a joke but it also explains that any musical style you can think of likely fits in somewhere in the world, the kingdoms are just the largest and most influential.

One of the things that I appreciated though are the small gags, often visual, that can be found throughout the movie. A lot of times they aren’t emphasized, they are just there waiting to be noticed. For example, the elder rock troll former kind is given a drink box marked ‘Fiber’ at one point. A throw away gag but not the point of the scene, just a little extra that made me laugh. That is just one example, there are plenty to be found.

Just my opinion, Trolls: World Tour is a sequel that is far better than the previous film and definitely worth a watch. Far more than so many other kids CGI animated movies I have seen in recent years. It made me laugh more than once. What more can one ask of any movie?

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