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Trolls World Tour is a Waste of Time: Movie Review

Photo: Dreamworks Animation | Photo: Dreamworks Animation
Photo: Dreamworks Animation | Photo: Dreamworks Animation

Trolls: World Tour’s tour around the world to living rooms and availability to download and stream is a disappointment. While the image is glossy and amusing to look at, the actual entertainment value of the film is next to none.

Production values are very high; the animation is clean and the music and score is well produced. The problem is none of it has any dramatic value or coherence. That makes all the pop music and glitz without substance.

Both the opening scene’s mash-up and an ensemble parody partway through are particularly bad. They have some nauseating rhymes and lyrics - one proves we really didn’t need a Cyndi Lauper cover called “Trolls Just Wanna Have Fun”.

The cover songs have no relevance to what’s happening in the story - so it’s a desensitized concert inside a badly written kid’s movie. This means adults are going to be bored out of the minds. It’s only 90 minutes but it feels twice as long.

What is the film actually about? Now that Poppy (Anna Kendrick) is queen of the trolls, she’s learned there are actually music-themed tribes. Now, she must warn and unite the other musical tribes before evil Queen Barb of rock (Rachel Bloom) destroys all music except her own.

Photo: Dreamworks Animation | Photo: Dreamworks Animation | Dreamworks Animation
Photo: Dreamworks Animation | Photo: Dreamworks Animation | Dreamworks Animation

This isn’t the first time director Walt Dohrn has taken a Dreamworks concept one film too far. Aside from anonymously co-directing the first Trolls, he was the lead story artist on 2010’s Shrek Forever After. That was another film with a scattershot premise. But that one wasn’t self-aware of its ridiculousness and at least tried to tell a story.

There are two or three moments of cleverness, but they get overshadowed by mean stereotyping. The heartfelt country music scene is quickly ruined by offensive humour belittling farmers and rural towns. And I’m saying this as someone who isn’t a fan of most country music.

Many of the jokes are shallow and juvenile - but on adult topics and music references that wouldn’t be understood by kids. If it’s meant to be colourful, beguiling entertainment, there needs to be some kind of plot.

But the pandering, modern humour plays into the most selfish and lazy tendencies of modern culture. It’s annoying to watch a bad influence of kids. Having a conflict between the main characters friend-zoning each other, for example, is a terrible thing to teach kids.

The final half hour offers some balance, including an attempt to teach a lesson about differences and similarities. That mutual respect is what empowers communities, and as the Funk King says, “Denying our differences is denying the truth of who we are.”

Photo: Dreamworks Animation |  Photo: Dreamworks Animation
Photo: Dreamworks Animation | Photo: Dreamworks Animation

THAT is what great music is about - the collective power of collaboration is sincere and innovative. Bad music is when it’s just trying to sell records and glorify people’s bad habits, or worse, the ones trying to make themselves look cool. Sadly, that’s the tacky vibe Trolls: World Tour carries nearly the entire film.

The icing on the cake is seeing grammatical errors on set decor on screen. That’s just shoddy filmmaking, and in animation, is inexcusable. (One of the benefits of watching a film at home is the ability to pause and rewind. I did so to make sure I wasn’t just seeing things.)

Now is a great time to pioneer the concept of creating new cinema while we’re all staying at home. It’s too bad that Trolls: World Tour, the movie testing the process, is so bad to see.

Trolls World Tour

4 out of 10

PG, 1hr 30mins. Animated Family Musical Adventure.

Directed by Walt Dohrn.

Starring Anna Kendrick, Justin Timberlake, Rachel Bloom, James Corden, Ron Funches and Sam Rockwell.

Now available for Rental on various services. Opens June 6th at Oakville's 5 Drive-In.