Film Spotlight: Trolls

Animated flicks such as The Secret Life of PetsZootopia and Finding Dory currently sit on the list of the year's top-grossing movies. While Trolls might not make it into the Top 10, it's another solid addition to the list of the year's animated releases. Thanks to the star power provided by Anna Kendrick, Justin Timberlake, Zooey Deschanel and Russell Brand, among many other top-shelf celebs who provide their vocal talents, Trolls, a 3-D computer-animated musical based on the dolls of the same name, succeeds in entertaining both adults and kids even if it delivers its message with a heavy-handed approach. The movie opens areawide on Friday. 

The plot centers on the eternally optimistic Poppy (Kendrick) and the curmudgeonly Branch (Timberlake), two Trolls who team up after Chef (Christine Baranski) captures several of their Troll friends, including Troll Creek (Russell Brand). Poppy is on a mission to redeem herself after Bergen crown prince Gristle Jr. (Christopher Mintz-Plasse) and his father, King Gristle Sr. (John Cleese), banished her from the Bergens' village in the wake of the Trolls' escape during one of the annual Troll-eating rituals. 

Despite their very different personalities, Poppy and Branch set their differences aside as they head to the Bergens' village on a rescue mission. There, they befriend the shy maid Bridget (Zooey Deschanel) and make a deal with her. If she frees their friends, they will help her get a date with Gristle Jr., who has become king after his father's death. The Trolls give her a makeover in the process, and the date goes well even though Bridget flees into the night like Cinderella when it's over. 

On numerous occasions, the film's characters wax philosophical about the importance of finding happiness. That sentiment comes through in the cheery songs as well. Not that there's anything wrong with espousing the virtues of a positive attitude. Timberlake, who serves as an executive producer for the film's music and contributes the original song "Can't Stop the Feeling!," deserves credit for giving the soundtrack a contemporary feel and making the music, like the film itself, appealing to both adults and children.

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Jeff Niesel

Jeff has been covering the Cleveland music scene for more than 20 years now. And on a regular basis, he tries to talk to whatever big acts are coming through town, too. If you're in a band that he needs to hear, email him at [email protected].
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