Since we last saw the land of Trolldom, newly crowned Queen Poppy (Anna Kendrick) has been trying to figure out how to be a good leader, and Branch (Justin Timberlake) has been trying to figure out how to tell her that he maybe wants to be more than friends. But now, Pop Village is threatened by Queen Barb (Crazy Ex-Girlfriend’s Rachel Bloom), leader of the Rock Trolls. She wants to steal the 6 musical strings which each represent one of the six types of music: pop, rock, country, techno, funk and classical. If Poppy and Branch can’t unite all types of Trolls in harmony Barb will destroy all music except for rock.

Trolls: World Tour is glittery fuzzy-felt family fun. In this world, non-stop happiness equals good and getting turned into rock zombies with “tattoos everywhere but our faces in case we still need to get office jobs”, equals bad, although this is fair enough when your target demographic hasn’t left primary school. Trolls: World Tour does lack some of the emotional nuances of the first film, which taught us that it’s ok to be happy and sad because it’s all part of being human (or Troll). The life lessons of this instalment don’t really go beyond a few inspirational truth bombs like “denying our differences is denying the truth of who we are”.

The Trolls’ world has grown in this film, but for the story and character development, it is too big. A lot of the new Trolls are given very little personality beyond their music genre tropes (leader of the Country Trolls doesn’t have much to say but does display a ginormous bright pink Dolly Parton hair-do). Queen Barb has the familiar villainous look, but after all “rock is evil” is hardly a groundbreaking idea. The big baddie is given some distinction because it seems that all this anger could actually stem from her insecurities. *Gasp*, could this be something for Barb and Poppy to bond over which will help them accept their differences and unite all Trolls in one big multi-genre rainbow-themed party? Who knows.

One advantage of world-building is the new voice cast which includes Sam Rockwell, Mary J. Blige, Kelly Clarkson and AndersonPaak, whose expositional bop as Prince D of the Funk Trolls is a definite highlight. The films biggest achievement is producing an ear-worm more persistent than the first instalment’s ‘Can’t Stop the Feeling’. God speed to anyone trying to get ‘Just Sing’ out of their heads before the end of the Coronavirus lockdown.

The animation is distinctive and creative. We see hills made of felt, deserts made of glitter and volcanos spewing rainbow lava. At times it does get a bit weird. A Troll made entirely of silver glitter gives birth out of his hair and it is implied that Biggie’s (James Corden) pet Mr Dinkles has a death wish. At one point there is even an attempt at cutting social commentary: “That’s not what it said in our scrapbooks.” “Scrapbooks? Those are cut out and glued in glitter by the winners.” 

Overall, Trolls: World Tour is a psychedelic 90 minutes too tame to make an impact, but at least we got a “rad medley” along the way.

2 stars

Image: Movie DB

Rachel Towers is a screen contributor at Forge Press.

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