16th Apr2020

‘Trolls World Tour’ Review

by Jason Brigger

Stars: Anna Kendrick, Justin Timberlake, Rachel Bloom, James Corden, Ron Funches, Kelly Clarkson, Anderson Paak, Sam Rockwell, George Clinton, Mary J. Blige | Written by Jonathan Aibel, Glenn Berger | Directed by Walt Dohrn, David P. Smith


Due to the COVID-19 crisis gripping the world, Trolls World Tour, the sequel to the 2016 Trolls film, was originally scheduled to be in theaters on April 10, but instead was released on Video on Demand as a 48-hour rental. It’s a chance the studio had to take, unless they wanted to delay releasing the film in theaters several months from now when movie theaters reopen. It’s also the only wide release film in the last month and since it’s a family film, should do quite well in terms of rental sales.

Disclaimer! The original Trolls is one of my least favorite animated films, along with Planes and the Emoji Movie, so my expectations for this film were extremely low going into the viewing. Much to my surprise, Trolls World Tour surpasses the original and is an average but enjoyable family film.

The Plot:

Our main characters from the original film, Poppy and Branch (along with the audience), discover their world is much larger than they originally imagined as their tribe is actually one of six different Troll tribes. The tribes each claim a different part of the world and are defined by their tribes’ music: Funk, Country, Techno, Classical, Pop and Rock.

When the Queen of the Rock tribe, Barb (not a very intimidating name), declares war on the other tribes in order to make rock music the only music in the land, she sets off to steal the source of each tribes’ music, a guitar string. If Barb steals all six strings and plays a chord on her guitar, all music but rock ‘n’ roll will be eliminated and the differences that define the Trolls will vanish.

Poppy and Branch set off with their friends to join forces with all the tribes in order to stop Queen Barb but along the way, Poppy learns that not all the tribes have the upbeat and positive outlook she displays. How Poppy and her friends adjust to this new world, a lot of singing helps, is key to saving the Trolls way of life and stopping Barb from making rock ‘n’ roll the only music in the land!

The Good:

  • No Bergens. The original villains in the first film, the Bergens, are nowhere to be seen (except for an after-credits scene) in the sequel and the film is better for it. The Bergens, despite being redeemed at the end of the first film, were really not redeemable characters and the reason the first Trolls film suffered. Luckily, the sequel focuses on the differences between the Trolls’ societies and not about the awful characters trying to eat our main characters.
  • Differences Matters. This isn’t going to solve the world’s problems, but Trolls World Tour does convey a good message that we should embrace the differences in society and not be scared of them. It’s a message that is referred to several times throughout the film, but the writers do a good job of not hitting the audience over the head with the message, thus allowing the message to come across organically. Despite my lukewarm feelings for this franchise, the importance of seeing characters of varying differences in film is something that is very much appreciated.

The Bad:

  • The Villain. The story of Barb attacking the other tribes and taking their strings is not bad in theory, but the villain is AWOL for the majority of the second act, which weakens her story. Barb is introduced in a very strong opening scene that is very reminiscent of opening scenes from the Marvel films as she lays waste to the Techno tribe and steals the first of the six strings she needs for her evil plan. Issues arise as we only see her take one more of the six strings from the tribes, and that is in a short flashback, as the film rather tells us that she has all the strings than show us. The film even sets up Barb’s army as a formidable force but unfortunately, we don’t get to see the strength of this army at any point in the film after the first act.

The Middling:

  • New Characters: Just like every sequel, new characters are introduced in Trolls World Tour and while some hit, Sam Rockwell’s Hickory and Kenan Thompson’s Tiny Diamond, there are a few misses as well, Kelly Clarkson’s Delta Dawn. Overall, it’s a mixed bag of success for the new characters but having the niche music (yodelers, jazz, teen bop, etc.) as the bounty hunters hired to track Poppy down is clever as well as Ozzy Osbourne playing Barb’s father, King Thrash. The only downside is realizing the hard rock legend that once bit the head off a bat is now voicing a Troll in a children’s film.

Final Grade: C (Average)

Trolls World Tour is a much better and more focused film than the original but it’s still far from a good film. The film will keep most kids attention as the animation is gorgeous, the selection of popular songs is chosen well, and the film seems to fly by in terms of time but overall, this is a middle of the road film for a middle of the road franchise. Parents looking for something new while staying-at-home could do worse with other animated features and renting the film for $20 (American) is still cheaper than taking the whole family to the movie theater.

You can catch Jason Brigger on the geek-centric podcast, The History of Bad Ideas, as new episodes are released every week at www.nerdly.co.uk or subscribe on iTunes, Stitcher and other podcasting apps. 
You can listen to their latest episode right here.

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