“Trolls Band Together” is the cinematic equivalent to a massive sugar rush. The animation is so intense it will make your eyes water. When it comes to the story, it is a saccharine-infused jaunt. And the music goes past toe tapping to full foot stomping.
In an era where animation often goes to darker visuals and story, this unabashed explosion of anything and everything designed to make the audience smile is pure fun. It is the kind of film the entire family can enjoy.
This is the third film featuring the follicle-enhanced creatures and takes a nice change of direction. Two films of watching Poppy (Anna Kendrick) and Branch (Justin Timberlake) flirt and find friendship had gone as far as it could go on its own. Writers Elizabeth Tippet and Thomas Dam finally took the story in the one direction viewers were in sync to see – a look at a troll boy band.
Branch was once part of the hugely popular boy band known as the BroZone. As a child, he was ready to join his four brothers – Floyd (Troye Sivan), John Dory (Eric André), Spruce (Daveed Diggs) and Clay (Kid Cudi) – on their tour. A mishap where the band failed to find perfect harmony sent the Bros in different directions.
They must reunite to save one of the brothers from a pair of no-talent singers – Velvet (Amy Schumer) and Veneer (Andrew Rannells) – who are using troll magic to create their massive careers. Their draining of the troll magic will have a deadly impact if not stopped.
Branch and Poppy agree to go on a journey to find the other band members to save the day. That means facing several dangerous moments with courage and musical numbers.
The “Troll” movies have always had the right formula for entertaining children AND their parents. Everything from the colorful trolls to the fanciful backdrops are designed to grab and hold short-attention spans. The fact it is done in a fun way is one of the biggest perks of the franchise.
Primary entertainment for the adults includes the fun word play – especially when dealing with all the boy band jokes – and the music. Among the tunes in the film are “Sweet Dreams,” “9 to 5,” “Lonely People” and “Island in the Sun.”
Topping all those musical numbers is the performance of “Better Place,” the first original song from *NSYNC in more than two decades. One of the ultimate boy bands would have to be in the ultimate troll story about brothers in a band.
Getting the band back together does overshadow the best performance in the film. Kendricks brings an infectious energy to the role of Poppy that starts at a high level and only increases with each optimistic moment she faces. The fact Kendrick can also sing makes her a key element in making the film work.
Add to that the casting of Camila Cabello as Viva, the new person in Poppy’s life, and the added energy gives the movie another energy boost. Viva and Poppy could work if they ever got their own movie.
The performance by Kenan Thompson as Tiny Diamond also needs to be mentioned. The character is a one-liner machine firing off jokes just when needed. He is another major plus for entertaining young and old.
Generally, the third movie in a franchise – especially one that is animated – tends to show signs of cracks in the franchise. This is a welcomed change where “Trolls Band Together” is better than the two previous offerings.
The energy is higher. The music is better. And the animation is both vividly colorful and at times very original as it shifts from standard computer images to a trippy drawing style. Director Walt Dohrn (“Trolls,” “Trolls World Tour”) didn’t play it safe and the result is a joyous celebration of friendship, family and wild hair.
Everyone from boys to men should make plans to go see this animated offering as “Trolls Band Together” is currently in local movie theaters.
Trolls Band Together
Cast: Anna Kendrick, Justin Timberlake, Troye Sivan, Eric André, Daveed Diggs, Kenan Thompson, Kid Cudi.
Director: Walt Dohrn
Rated: PG for suggestive, rude humor, peril
Running time: 92 minutes.