TROLLS BAND TOGETHER- Review – We Are Movie Geeks



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Though the end of the year is mainly the mainstay of serious and somber award-seeking films, there’s almost always room for family-friendly flicks. After all, there has to be a break from all the hectic holiday preparations, and what better way to relax than getting off your feet in one of those swell reclining plush multiplex chairs? So, the “mouse house” will arrive shortly with a slick fantasy fable, but how about their “major ‘toon rival”? Well, the fine folks at Dreamworks are completing a trilogy begun seven years ago when they put a new spin on a beloved baby boomer toy. Much of that spin involves music, as the lil’ critters interpreted classic (and some brand new) pop tunes. This makes their third outing feel a bit foreshadowed as those TROLLS BAND TOGETHER.

This new outing begins with a flashback to the final performance of the huge Troll boy band BroZone. After an attempt at the “perfect harmony”, the quintet went their separate ways. And now we’re back in that Troll kingdom nestled deep in the forest. Things are more hectic than usual as Queen Poppy (voice of Anna Kendrick) and “maybe” BF Branch (Justin Timberlake) are helping with the big wedding of Bridget (Zooey Deschanel) to the Bergen King Gristle (Christopher Mintz-Plasse). Just after the “I do’s” a stranger disrupts the proceedings. It’s none other than John Dory (Eric Andre), singer and manager of BroZone who’s also Branch’s big bro! What? Branch was part of that supergroup and was then known as “Baby Branch”! And what has prompted this reunion? It seems that brother Floyd has been kidnapped by the current “red hot” singing duo, sibs Velvet (Amy Schumer) and Veneer (Andrew Rannells). They’re keeping Floyd inside a near-unbreakable glass cage to “drink in” his musical talent. Ah, but his prison can only be shattered by that ole’ perfect harmony. Yup, it’s time to get the band back together, so the trio hit the road, along with Tiny Diamond (Kenan Thompson) to find brothers Spruce and Clay to save Floyd before his singin skills are completely drained.

The returning voice actors slip back into their established roles as though nary a day has gone by since the previous flick three years ago. Timberlake has a bit of renewed energy as he appears to be having loads of fun by satirizing his own boy band past while trying to deny his attraction to Poppy. As usual, Kendrick brings lots of energetic show-tune spirit to her and gets a chance to shine after meeting her new surprise BFF (and perhaps a tad extra) Viva who is given equally frenetic vocal life by pop singing sensation Camila Cabello (and they’re another terrific song duo). Much of the flick’s laughs are provided by SNL vet Thompson who peppered the story with snarky asides as TD (who still looks like Will Ferrell’s Harry Carey to me). His comic delivery is matched by the story’s villainous twosome with Schumer delivering her insults with a hissing sneer while Rannels conveys a sweaty desperate need to serve her as her bumbling bro. The movie also has a major role for the comic ‘force of nature” Andre but aside from being the “big boss” (and very bossy), he’s given little to do as Dory.

The directing duo of Walt Dohrn and Tim Heitz keeps the pace at a fever pitch while tossing in a near-endless stream of music standards and original melodies. And like the previous films, you could almost get a visual sugar rush from the candy-coated color spectrum paired with the shimmering “sparklies”. The CGI is top of the line, though they don’t take as many stylistic chances as Dreamworks’ Puss In Boots flick from a year ago. Happily, some classic 2D animation from Titmouse Studios sneaks in with some knowing psychedelic nods to Peter Max and that YELLOW SUBMARINE. Sure, the trolls are still “homely/cute” as they bounce into the camera for tight close-ups, but the filmmakers do a deep dive into some classic animation icons of the last century. With their rubbery limbs and big eyes, Velvet and Veneer could’ve sung with Betty Boop or Flip the Frog in the 1930s. And then there are the natives of Vacay Land who recall a Muppet spin on Dr. Seuss. Much of this is merely a bonus bit of fun for the adults as the kids are mesmerized by the catchy songs and bombastically energetic lil’ critters. It’s a haphazard plot structure (the Bergens have little to do), but adults can zone out (but try not to snooze) as those TROLLS BAND TOGETHER.

1.5 Out of 4

TROLLS BAND TOGETHER is now playing in theaters everywhere

Jim Batts was a contestant on the movie edition of TV's "Who Wants to be a Millionaire" in 2009 and has been a member of the St. Louis Film Critics organization since 2013.