Trolls World Tour (MOVIE REVIEW)
Runtime: 91 Minutes
Director: Walt Dohrn
Cast: Anna Kendrick, Justin Timberlake, James Corden, Ozzy Osbourne, Rachel Bloom
Trolls World Tour is a strange film, not in the sense that it is a sequel to one of DreamWorks’ slightly weaker efforts, but in how it’s being released amidst a global pandemic. Most likely to avoid having the film being delayed but also be able to make sure the film can be viewed by families in the most accessible way, Trolls World Tour serves as the first film made under Universal Pictures that is completely forgoing a theatrical release in favour of digital rental release instead. While it seems extremely ballsy for a studio like Universal to send a multi-million dollar studio project to Digital services, regardless of what the outcome might be, a new film is at least out to the public and up for critique. And in the case of World Tour, the film in many ways is as bright, colourful, musical and disgustingly innocent as it’s 2016 predecessor, and while there is plenty to like if you were a fan of the original film, there will be practically nothing else to offer unless you were already attached to these characters to begin with.
Trolls World Tour takes place after the first movie where after restoring peace to the land of the Trolls, Poppy is growing more accustomed to being queen of her kingdom whilst having help along the way thanks to Branch who secretly has started to grow romantic feelings for her. When news starts to roll out about Queen Barb, the leader of the Rock Trolls, destroying other clans to steal their music, Poppy learns that the trolls aren’t alone in this world and the land is divided into a bunch of different kingdoms based on the different genres of music that they play. Understanding that Barb is seeking the music strings of the other trolls to unite the world under only Hard Rock, Poppy and the rest of the gang go on an adventure to band together all the other clans to stop Barb and her evil reign.
In terms of trying to create a creative and unique sequel, in a few ways, Trolls World Tour does tick a lot of the right boxes. It does a lot of things right in terms of expanding the world far beyond what we knew before and having a legitimate reason and purpose for the characters to want to go out on a big wacky adventure to save their world. Much like the original, one of its strongest aspects is the way it approaches it’s world building and the thankful way of how it never takes itself too seriously. The film is animated really nicely, going to a lovingly handcrafted feel to its environments as if it’s made from a child’s scrapbook. It fits nicely with the film’s overall tone, being a jukebox musical, as for the most part, all it ever wants to do is be an entertaining riot. The film is littered with tons of songs galore, and when the aspect of the other Trolls come into play that all focus on their own genres of music, it’s definitely easy to say that there will be something for someone to like in terms of the music variety. It also very much gives the filmmakers at DreamWorks Animation the excuse to recruit perhaps the largest cast of musical artists in the world. This is including but not limited to…(DEEP BREATH)...Ozzy Osbourne, Mary J Blige, Kelly Clarkson, Red Velvet, Ester Dean, Jamie Dornan, Icona Pop, George Clinton, and MUCH MUCH MORE! Given the big cast the film has at its play to portray all of the different troll clans and their own respective music groups, it’s where some of the unfortunate issues that Trolls World Tour has started to seep in. It’s great that the film wants to expand its universe and tell a fun story based on the jukebox musical theme it went with last time, but combined with how it’s based on a toyline, along with how all the music artists here are just sort of an excuse to fill in a soundtrack, it does ponder some questions. Do these artist have any reason to be a part of this cast based on their fit for these brand new characters, or is it just an excuse to have them create songs that will be created to fill in a soundtrack that will be sold? Is there an actual creative reason for their participation in this project, or is it just to sell products and merchandising? It’s at that point where Trolls World Tour feels less like a movie, and more like a commercial, which feels strangely disingenuous for what is a kids film at its core. Not that any of the songs are bad, there are plenty of really good tracks that keep the film engaging from time to time, but when the heavily commercialised elements of the film start to take you out of the world it’s set in, that’s when you have to step back and wonder whether or not this was the right route to go down.
Aside from that pretty jarring issue, the film at its core is a pretty formulaic road trip movie from top to bottom. It more or less goes through the same general archetypes as with any films under this form of storytelling from the jump to different locations, the main antagonists always being on their tail, the main protagonists going through some ups and downs, and ultimately learning a powerful message that is the ultimate core of the movie. In World Tour’s case, the film is all about being more accepting of other cultures and understanding that being different is a great thing to help you stand out from the crowd. As Poppy and Branch go on their journey to reunite the trolls before Barb steals their music, the film goes out of its way to have its central characters learn of these other trolls’ cultures and how just because their music is different from their typical pop doesn’t mean that it's inherently bad. It’s about being more accepting of others around you and how embracing everyone’s different quirks and weirdness can help us to grow to become greater people. And though this message can be extremely preachy and drilled into the audience’s skull to an almost insulting degree, considering the far more inclusive world we live in today, it’s especially important to teach this message to children and this film isn’t a bad way of conveying this in a way that still keeps the film fast paced and fun. It also discusses the importance of listening to others when you might not be in the right mind or are unsure of what to do, and though the results of this can be quite mixed, it is perhaps a little admirable that World Tour is going out of its way to teach its younger demographic about these things. All of this does come at the cost of making the entire film completely predictable from top to bottom, it better than having the film basically be one giant Spotify Playlist masquerading as an animated film. It also sometimes doesn’t help too much when the film has a couple subplots which feel like they can disjoint the pacing sometimes along with a side story about how Branch wants to confess his feelings for Poppy, but for the most part doesn’t go anywhere nor feels important to the story.
Trolls World Tour is a fairly average sequel to a similarly average predecessor that will most likely get a massive amount of enjoyment from it’s younger target audience but admittedly not much else. The world building of the film and it’s important messages of unison and inclusivity are something that would be proven noteworthy for this type of film and there is a lot of fun to be had if you just let yourself get suckered into its sickly cute universe, but the heavily commercialisation makes the overall package feel less like a film and more like a product. A perfectly fine product, but a fairly un-descreet one. If you have kids, it’s going to be a great distractor during the pandemic, but if you are looking for anything else that might be a bit more enriching for older crowds, you might want to look elsewhere.
FINAL RATING: 5/10 (AVERAGE)
The world is as colourful and creative as ever.
Many of the song covers are very enjoyable.
Great messages about being more accepting of others and their cultures.
A very formulaic and predictable road trip plot.
The film can feel overly commercialised and disingenuous.
Might be an acquired taste given the highly positive and sometimes irritating vibes.