“Trolls” Movie Review

Posted by Michael Parsons on November 3, 2016 in / No Comments


To keep her diminutive fluorescent-haired race from being devoured by big lumbering Bergens, a young, bubbly Troll named Poppy embarks on a journey to save her friends and put everybody in a fantastic mood. Directed by Walt Dohrn and Mike Mitchell (both involved in the “Shrek” franchise), this movie has fun to spare, though it might’ve spared a little bit more( or perhaps saved it for the sequel). There are a lifetime of antidepressants packed into this 90 minutes of rainbows and pop-music, like “Beat Bugs” on steroids, and little Poppy is handing out the pills.

Gee whiz, if I could only measure the brain stimulus in my 4-year-old whilst absorbing “Trolls”, it would probably look something like an EKG machine hooked up to a car battery. I heard nothing from her about the film for almost a week, until yesterday on the way to school she asked, “Dad, can we see that “Trolls” movie again?”. Did it take that long to sink in? I’m praying we receive an end-of-year screener from the studio.

The flick is an undeniable blast for a spell, but never has something so clever, creative and colorful become such a chore to sit through. Energetic and joyous to a fault, Dreamworks’ newest animated feature is perhaps something to be watched in segments; the color palette alone will make trolls-movieeverything outside of the theater look drab. So over-the-top that overload would be an understatement, it almost perpetuates ADHD in the target audience.

Only a select few talents could lend their voices to these characters. Those being Anna Kendrick as the insufferably upbeat Poppy, and Justin Timberlake as the diametrically opposed Branch, a Troll who lost his flare as a kid and is now a cynical sourpuss. For the Bergens, consuming a troll is not only a rite-of-passage, but believed to be the only source of happiness for these hopelessly downbeat creatures (a segment set to the tune of Gorillaz “Clint Eastwood” is perfect).

The trolls escape, and with nary a troll soul to be found,  young Bergen King Gristle (Christopher Mintz-Plasse) is deprived of this ritual and doomed to a perpetual funk. You don’t throw a party in a foxhole, warns gloomy Branch, but Poppy can’t resist–jackpot for the Bergens, who crash the celebration and make off with a few of their bright-haired buddies.

With the proliferation of PG-Rated animations hitting the big screen, it’s hard to gauge what is entirely friendly for the tykes, and on the upside, “Trolls” will delight most under the age of 10 without scaring the crap out of them. There are plenty of musical numbers and about a thousand cutesy bits that I can barely discern enough to explain for the purposes of a review. By the time the credits roll, it’s all become a bit hallucinatory (our screening was in 3D–this is one of the few that I would actually recommend putting on glasses for); it’s an explosion of florescence with a vibe so overwhelmingly and hyperactively positive that it almost masks a dopey storyline.

– M. Parsons

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Michael Parsons

Father. Realtor®. Movie nut. After pestering my parents for their commentary on “Star Wars” when I was four years old, my mind went into a creative frenzy. I’d imagined something entirely different than the actual film, which I didn’t end up seeing until its 1979 re-release at the Uptown Theater in Washington, DC. This was my formal introduction to the cinema.

During that long wait, which felt like an eternity to a child, my mind was being molded by more corrosive stuff like “Trilogy of Terror” and “Rosemary’s Baby”, most of which I’d conned various babysitters into letting me watch on television ( I convinced one poor lady that “Jaws” was actually “Moby Dick”).

The folks were pretty strict in that regard, so the less appropriate it was for a kid to watch, the more I was fascinated by it. Horror staples like “Halloween” and “Friday the 13th”, as well as lesser-known low-budget fare like “Madman”, “Sleepaway Camp” and “Pieces” all ended up sneaking their way into the VHS on a regular basis.

Since then, I’ve developed an obsession with the entire film industry. Even though I watch and review a wide breadth of films these days, my appreciation for the campy, poorly lit micro-budgeters still lends itself to my evolving perspective on movies just as much as the summer blockbusters and Oscar contenders. As I recall my trips to the movie theater, I realize that this stuff is about much more than just a fleeting piece of entertainment.

A couple years ago, I was finally given the opportunity to lend my opinion on films to a publication, The Rogers Revue, with a subsequent run at Reel Film News. It's been both a privilege and a gateway to what we’re doing now. Most of my experience has come from interviewing independent filmmakers, who consistently promote innovation. The filmmaking process is grueling and relatively unforgiving.

Fellow film enthusiast Eddie Pasa and I have created DC Filmdom as a medium for film reviews, discussion, and (inevitably) some debate. And so, the creative frenzy continues.

(Michael is a member of the Washington, DC Area Film Critics Association).

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