Blu-ray Review: Trolls

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Lovers of digital animation will likely find plenty to enjoy in Trolls, a dazzlingly colorful, visually inventive animated film now available on Blu-ray (also 4K UltraHD, DVD, Digital HD) via Fox/Dreamworks Home Entertainment. Thematically the whole happy-go-lucky affair is really lacking, but that should only be a deterrent for adult viewers. Kids will be enthralled with this music-packed, lighthearted confection. And there's lots of fun tunes.

Trolls brings those little dolls with the poofy hair that were so popular in the early '90s to vivid, ever-cutesy life. In the world of Trolls, these adorable creatures are full of positivity. They're all living peacefully in a magical wooded area, perfectly hidden from their eternal adversaries—the Bergens. They're unsightly, mean, and derive happiness from devouring trolls. During a huge Troll celebration that involves lots of sparkly lights and shock waves, the Bergens are alerted to the Trolls' presence. The 20-year Troll-free drought endured by the Bergens is about to end. A particularly nasty Bergen tromps into Troll-land and snatches up a number of the little delicacies. 
trolls 1.jpg Mostly Trolls is about music. It helps that the Trolls who are sent to rescue the captives, Princess Poppy and Branch, are voiced by Anna Kendrick and Justin Timberlake (respectively). Kendrick is a capable vocalist and, of course, Timberlake has plenty of chops. The plot entanglements aren't worth giving a great deal of thought to—this is a carefree ride that doesn't stand up to critical scrutiny. It's fun for kids primarily. Even the most open-minded and accepting of parents may wish they were watching a comparatively multi-layered animated film like Finding Dory or Zootopia.

The coolest aspect of Trolls (besides the animation itself) is its soundtrack, spearheaded by the Oscar-nominated, Billboard chart-topping Justin Timberlake smash "Can't Stop the Feeling!" With Gwen Stefani and Zooey Deschanel onboard in the voice cast (Stefani is Suki, the Trolls' community DJ, while Deschanel is the only sympathetic Bergen, Bridget), there are plenty of opportunities for good music. How about Lionel Ritchie's kitsch classic "Hello" sung by Deschanel? Cyndi Lauper's "True Colors" as a duet between Timberlake and Kendrick? "Mo' Money Mo' Problems" as a cast showcase, including Stefani and James Corden (playing a Troll named... Biggie)? These tunes are consistently the highlights of Trolls, which at times almost feels like a series of interrelated animated music videos. 
trolls 2.jpg Fox/Dreamworks' Blu-ray, the "Party Edition," offers three viewing modes: just the movie on its own, a "sing-along" version, and an interactive "Party Mode" that includes all sorts of extra tidbits triggered by clicking onscreen icons. Again, great stuff for younger viewers. There's also a half-hour or so of various featurettes, including a number of deleted scenes. "The Potion for Stop-Motion," "Travel Through Troll Village," and "Creating Troll Magic" are among the bite-sized featurettes directed at kid-level.

All things considered, Trolls is not a classic by any means. But it is quite fun to take in on a purely visual level (the budget was reportedly $125 million and it looks it). Get it for your kids—it's practically guaranteed to be rewatched numerous times.

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Chaz Lipp writes for The Morton Report.

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