STORY: Queen Poppy (voice by Anna Kendrick) is content with the rendezvous she and her fellow trolls are accustomed to in their pop kingdom ‘because trolls just wanna have fun’. But a world tour is underway, which also happens to be a façade for something sinister. Who is this hard rock queen Barb (Rachel Bloom) everyone’s dreading and is she really hoping to unify all the other trolls that have been living in isolation for decades? Only time will tell.
REVIEW: Poppy and Branch (voice by Justin Timberlake) are thick as thieves and have grown up to become wonderful trolls – she, the queen of pop kingdom and he, her favourite associate/ best friend. On a fateful day, as the troll gang is about to wrap up their morning charade, a letter drops from above, announcing that a massive world tour – titled ‘One Nation Under Rock World Tour’ – is being organised by the queen of rock, Barb. Rumour has it that Barb is ruthless and wants to snatch the strings away from all the five other dominant troll kingdoms – Funk, Classical, Country, Techno and Pop. But Poppy is a sweetheart and sees the good in people, which is why she embarks on a journey to help Barb reunite all the kingdoms that had parted ways generations ago owing to high levels of intolerance among the followers of various music formats. But the guitar-toting, kohl-rimmed-eyed Barb is in no mood for harmony and wants total domination instead. How will Poppy save her world and the worlds of all the others from the clutches of this ‘nasty’ leader?
As is the case with most animated-fantasy films, Walt Dohrn’s ‘Trolls World Tour’ is an optical delight and enhances the viewers’ level of engagement with all the visual mastery that’s on display, thanks to some top-notch visual effects, production design and art direction by an army of animators and artists (led by Timothy Lamb and Kendal Cronkhite). This genre is typically renowned for relying heavily on the classic good-versus-evil subject and this latest instalment of the original 2016 troll dolls franchise – ‘Trolls’ – is no exception. A dominating queen exhibiting dictatorial behaviour, whose deep-seated insecurities range from territorial tendencies to loneliness, bumps into a persona that’s a stark contrast to hers. And the morally-rich kid infuses self-righteousness in the deprived soul. That’s what all the animated movies are based on and is happening here, too.
The war among different music genres (and the inclusion of the relatively newer ones like K-Pop for instance) is an interesting deviation from the tried-and-tested methods of 3D adventure but the climax is scooped up in hurry: convenient, too idealist and perfect for a Utopian land. Having said that, exaggerated endings form the very essence of animated films, don’t they?
C’s for charming, and charming Justin Timberlake is. As Poppy’s pillar of strength and her silent lover, the singer-actor is magnetism personified. And adding to the loveliness of the plotline and the overall vibe of the movie is the ever-funny Anna Kendrick.As Poppy, she wears her heart on her sleeves and it is refreshing to hear her chirpy voice, especially when the flick starts to feel all too predictable. James Corden as Biggie is adorably snooty and brownie points for holding on to that Brit accent. Others who rock (pun very much intended) their colloquial accents are Sam Rockwell as Hickory-the-Yodeller and Saturday Night Live veteran Kenan Thompson as Tiny Diamond. Another musician who makes a brief yet impactful appearance is Columbian music sensation J Balvin. Rachel Bloom is the baddie Barb here and she matches up to the character’s level of obnoxity.
Theodore Shapiro’s music is of paramount importance in ‘Trolls World Tour’ – given the central topic circles around music and its genres – and he renders complete justice. It’s interesting to listen to the classical piece and the country one as well; but the most fascinating of them all is the pop mash-up (not revealing the names of the songs here for your sake, not ours) that the genre’s loyalists put up to defend their glee and ‘cheesy, repetitive’ lyrics.
The priggish undertone was one that revolved around inclusion and celebration of one another’s differences. At a time when the world is grappling with hate crimes and religious fanaticism, the thematic relevance of this instalment is on target.
Once again, ‘Trolls Word Tour’ reiterates what we have known all along but some of us chose to ignore or may have forgotten: music is the universal language of the universe.