Parents need to know that "Trolls" is a cute, colorful adventure movie inspired by the tall-haired troll dolls that first became popular in the 1960s. It centers on peppy troll Princess Poppy, who teams up with grumpy pessimist Branch to rescue her friends from the troll-hungry Bergens. Along the way everyone learns lessons about inner happiness, never giving up, and being proud of who you are. Everything has a fuzzy, felted look to it, which softens some of the danger and peril. But little kids are still likely to be scared by the greedy, hungry Bergens. And they may well hide their eyes when Poppy and her friends flee from danger and have several narrow escapes. There's also a sad moment when Branch remembers losing someone he loved. Two of the Bergens flirt, striking some "sexy" poses and exchanging a couple of mild innuendoes. Bodily function humor includes the projectile-glitter farts of Poppy's sparkly friend, Guy Diamond, whose glittery buttocks are also visible. Expect a few uses of "OMG"/"oh my gah" (the ending of the word is left undefined) and "stupid"/other insults. But in the end, what you'll remember are the great songs, the strong themes of friendship and empathy, and the fun characters.
WHAT'S THE STORY?
As Trolls begins, viewers learn that it's been 20 years since the cute, colorful, tall-haired creatures fled the mean, miserable Bergens, who can only feel happiness when they eat trolls. Led by Princess Poppy (voiced by Anna Kendrick), the trolls have long forgotten to be afraid of the Bergens and now enjoy a carefree life full of rainbows, parties, and songs. But when one of Poppy's parties gets especially loud and glittery, the exiled Bergen Chef (Christine Baranski) tracks them down and captures several of Poppy's closest friends. The plucky princess is determined to fix her mistake and rescue her pals - but to do it, she'll need the help of pessimistic Branch (Justin Timberlake) and, eventually, a poorly treated Bergen named Bridget (Zooey Deschanel).
IS IT ANY GOOD?
Make no mistake: Kids are going to love this movie. Trolls is cute, it's colorful, it has tons of catchy songs, and the messages are positive and easy to understand (happiness is inside everyone, if you know where/how to find it, and you shouldn't have to change who you are to get someone to like you). Grown-ups might wish for a little more of the depth and nuance that Pixar has spoiled us into hoping for in animated movies. (And were the glitter farts really necessary?) But sometimes it's nice to just enjoy a sweet, fun kids' movie - especially one that's full of songs you can't help singing along to.
Good thing, since there's a lot of singing. Musical numbers are used both to move the story along (for example, Poppy's never-give-up anthem, "Get Back Up Again") and to provide hits of visual/audio sugar (Timberlake's insanely catchy "Can't Stop the Feeling"). And classics like "The Sound of Silence" serve as clever punch lines for jokes designed to appeal to the adults in the audience. Also clever? The many creative ways the trolls use their magic hair, from creating a staircase in midair to whipping back hungry predators. There's so much to look at and listen to in this confection of a movie that you won't be bored - just know that the soundtrack may be stuck in your head longer than the script.
RATING AND CONTENT
Recommended for age 6 and older
Educational value: 2 out of 5
Positive messages: 4 out of 5
Positive role models: 4 out of 5
Violence and scariness: 3 out of 5
Sexy stuff: 2 out of 5
Language: 1 out of 5
Drinking, drugs, and smoking: 0 out of 5
Consumerism: 1 out of 5 (Are products/advertisements embedded? Is the title part of a broader marketing initiative/empire? Is the intent to sell things to kids?)
Theatrical release date: November 4, 2016
Directors: Mike Mitchell, Walt Dohrn
Studio: Twentieth Century Fox Film Corporation
Genre: Family and Kids
Run time: 92 minutes
MPAA rating: PG
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