Trolls (2016)

(On Cable TV, July 2017) Colorful and peppy to an extent that it becomes a plot point, Trolls is the kind of cookie-cutter kids’ animated film that now seems to come out monthly. I’m not complaining: The overall quality of such films have been relatively high, they do entertain the kids and they usually feature two or three standout sequences that are worth a look. And while I haven’t warmed up to Trolls the way I’ve liked even middle-ground recent efforts such as Sing or Storks, there’s still enough here to justify a distracted look. “Adapted” from the mini-dolls, Trolls does stake out a relatively terrifying premise in establishing a universe in which trolls are considered joyful delicacies by the joyless Bergen monsters. Thus threatened with consumption, our dancing-and-singing heroes are left free to run, befriend and compromise. The plot is simple, but what makes Trolls pop is the relentless assault of colours and bouncy songs, many of them reinterpreting pop hits. (The two big exceptions, “Can’t Stop the Feeling!” and “Get Back up Again” are singles-grade pop hits on their own.) Any movie that starts with Earth, Wind and Fire’s “September” (which begins by mentioning my birthday) is gold in my book, and while Trolls later goes the easy way by reinterpreting pop songs downtempo, the rest of the film can be listened to easily. Producer/voice-actor Justin Timberlake has much to do with this quality of the film (“Can’t Stop the Feeling!” became an authentic radio hit). The colour and rhythm eventually become part of the plot, but don’t fret: everything gets better by the end. Trolls is not a great movie, it’s not even a great kids’ movie, but it’s adequate enough, and its soundtrack means that you can, in fact, listen to the film while doing something else.

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