Trolls World Tour (2020)
Director: Walt Dohrn
Writers: Jonathan Aibel, Glenn Berger, Elizabeth Tippet, Maya Forbes, and Wallace Wolodarsky
Starring: Anna Kendrick, Justin Timberlake, Rachel Bloom, James Corden, Ron Funches, Kelly Clarkson, Anderson Paak, Sam Rockwell, George Clinton, and Mary J. Blige
Plot: As the pop trolls learn that there are others like them for each musical genre, the leader of the Rock group plans to eliminate everyone else.
Review: I’m going to start this review off rather bluntly. I’ve avoided the Trolls franchise, very purposely, for four years now. It just looked like a collection of tropes that I hate in modern animation. Don’t give me pop songs just because I might recognize them and it worked in Shrek. Don’t talk down to your audience just because it’s mostly children. Don’t detract from your story just to make a “funny” poop or fat joke. Just make a legitimately compelling story with fun characters and have faith that what you’re doing will hit with kids (and, maybe, even adults if you’re lucky). And, now that I’ve finally witnessed them first hand, I’ve got to say… I wasn’t far off. I really, really wanted to like Trolls and Trolls World Tour. I did. I could feel myself being sucked in. But, they were just afraid to commit and I felt pushed away just as quickly.
I honestly do think Trolls World Tour could’ve been something special. There’s a lot of fun to be had here. Jumping from genre to genre and seeing how they visually represented and personified each type of music was really entertaining. I loved the opening sequence where Rock and Techno collided. I thought the characters were fun, the visuals were neat, and the music was really, really good. The deeper we got into the different lands, the more delighted I was. Who doesn’t want to see an Ozzy troll or Sam Rockwell as a cowboy centaur? Then, they got surprisingly political. I wasn’t expecting morals like how just because we’re different doesn’t mean we can’t get along, the importance of embracing culture, and not whitewashing our past. Somehow the sequel to Trolls ended up being one of the more political movies of 2020. Not that it’s a bad thing. In fact, if it had kept the tone relatively serious, I’d probably be praising World Tour right now.
But, as in the first one, every deep meaningful quote about needing to listen to all voices to make the world a better place is quickly followed by a llama pooping out a birthday cake, candles, and flames to light those candles. Come on, Dreamworks. Way to kill a vibe. Have a little dignity. Kids can follow some surprisingly complex stuff. Look at movies like Zootopia and Inside Out. Those deal with super important, complicated issues and don’t feel like they pull any punches. Sure. There’s comedic elements in both, but there’s never anything that detracts from the morals or emotional stakes. Is it unfair that I eventually compare every animated flick to Pixar? Probably. Am I going to stop? Probably not.
The only other complaint I have about Trolls World Tour actually relates to the lead characters. They were, without a doubt, my least favorite part of this ensemble. By “leads” I’m referring to almost everyone from the first movie. The Pop trolls. Like I said earlier, I really enjoyed seeing the different visual styles of all he different tribes. Rock was all badass. Country was western. The classical guys looked like Beethoven. However, the pop… well, they just looked like generic trolls, not unlike the type you’d see on Lisa Frank merchandise in the 90s. Now, I’m not saying that’s bad. That aesthetic worked in the first movie. But, it doesn’t really represent a certain genre of music. It’s just happiness. Not necessarily pop. In fact, it’s almost like they were never created to represent a genre of music but just music in general. And then had to be retrofitted into something they weren’t intended to be in order to force out a sequel. Weird, right? I don’t know. Maybe it’s a minor gripe. But, it definitely bugged me. I think it would’ve been more believable if they just made this it’s own thing and not a sequel to Trolls. But, then, you’re missing out on that sweet, sweet IP, so who am I to say.
Overall, I’d put World Tour about on par with the first one. It has a better story for sure, but that just makes it falling flat even more disappointing. I don’t know if I’d remember anything about this franchise other than the Justin Timberlake song if Universal wasn’t constantly shoving it down our throats to make another buck off of the younlings entertained by the bright colors. Out of all of the properties that Dreamworks has franchised, I definitely think Trolls is the least special. The movies aren’t bad. But, I wouldn’t say they’re good either. They’re inoffensive, kid stuff. And, that’s alright I guess. It’s just disappointing to the rest of us.
Also, this movie maybe killed theaters forever, so that’s definitely a demerit.
TL;DR: Trolls World Tour has a really good, interesting premise, but buries it in poop jokes and glitter.
Review: 6/10 (Ok)