Friday, March 31, 2017

Family Movie Night: TROLLS

Welcome to a new installment of FAMILY MOVIE NIGHT, where we give our recommendation on a family-friendly movie to enjoy.  This week we review the 2016 toy-based animated film...TROLLS.

The animated film is back. In the last several years we have seen a strong push to create good, original content in the realm of animated films. This has been seen in recent Disney/Pixar films such as FrozenTangledBig Hero 6Inside Out, and Zootopia. Sensing the rise in interest of animated films, companies like DreamWorks are also trying to revamp their own movies. The problem that DreamWorks has faced in the past is that they might hit a great film (see: Shrek), but they beat the horse until it’s dead and then keep beating it (see: Shrek 2-4 and the various holiday specials, an announced fifth film, the spinoff Puss In Boots, and an announced sequel for that as well). This year is proving to be no different for DreamWorks with their recent endeavors into Trolls.

I’ll start off by saying that Trolls is super fun. There’s some good music, fun dances, jokes that’ll make even adults smile and laugh (cause holy smokes! hidden adult humor alert), and some good animation and colors. I watched it with my fiancee who is a huge Disney-head and we enjoyed parts of the movie. I would expect that young children would love it though. And why wouldn’t they? Bright colors and dancing, potty humor, and cute Trolls singing and dancing are kind of a hit with kids. “Can’t Stop The Feeling” was made by Justin Timberlake for this movie, and it succeeded both for the film and outside of it in pop music charts. The movie is sweet too and has a bit of an endearing love story. 

However, despite some of the great parts of the movie, Trolls falls hard in some places. I can’t help but think that this movie was made primarily to sell toys. While I didn’t expect the plot to be deep and convoluted, I was expecting some more nuanced themes. There were problems of quickly glossing over issues and not explaining them, especially at the conclusion of the movie when the bad guy Bergens were redeemed. 

The primary theme that was created in the movie was happiness and how it is achieved, and it was clever to make the Bergens believe that the only way for them to achieve this happiness was through eating the Trolls. There was a real opportunity to have a teaching moment for young children about what true happiness is, and instead of that, it was portrayed that they could just sing and dance and be happy. While that’s great, it’s certainly not the answer to the problem. It would have been nice to see some development there.

Overall, as I said, Trolls is fun. Lots of toys are being sold, and kids enjoy the music. However, I think we will see some of the same problems we have seen with other DreamWorks movies. Trolls 2 is already scheduled for April 2020. What separates DreamWorks and thus Trolls from Dinsey/Pixar is that Disney/Pixar takes their stories and then goes into the deeper nuances of the plot and uses it as a teaching moment—DreamWorks is still struggling with that.

Wesley's Score: 5.5/10

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