As dispiriting as Hollywood’s ongoing plundering of any possible game, toy or vaguely familiar pop-culture product as movie fodder may be, it’s a relief when any such example proves to be at least somewhat inspired. In this animated tale, those fuzzy-headed, goofy-faced trolls inhabit a world where they’re forever on the run from the Bergens, creatures who believe that the only way they can feel happiness is by eating the happy little trolls. Anna Kendrick (as a troll princess) and Justin Timberlake (as her prickly companion) headline, and the most pleasant surprise is that the decision to make this a sort of jukebox musical — with renditions of “September,” “True Colours” and Lionel Ritchie’s “Hello” among the offerings — results in something considerably livelier and less dire than Strange Magic. But the most interesting touch is visual, as director Mike Mitchell (Shrek Forever After) builds a world of textures that suggests, without ever explicitly saying, that that these creatures all exist as human playthings. While the plot revolves around familiar “the real happiness was inside you all along” platitudes, Trolls at least delivers it with some tactile charms (92 min.).
Director: Mike Mitchell and Walt Dohrn
Producer: Gina Shay and Dannie Festa
Cast: Anna Kendrick, Justin Timberlake, Christopher Mintz-Plasse, Russell Brand, Zooey Deschanel, Jeffrey Tambor, Christine Baranski, James Corden, Kunal Nayyar, Ron Funches, Icona Pop, Quvenzhané Wallis, John Cleese, Gwen Stefani and Ricky Dillon