The trolls live in constant fear of being eaten by Bergens, a race of much larger beasts who want to gobble them up to absorb their cheerful essence. When a number of trolls are kidnapped during a party, their leader, Princess Poppy (Anna Kendrick), sets out to rescue them.
Fuzzy-headed residents of many a ’90s school desk, Thomas Dam’s ugly little Good Luck Trolls don’t have much backstory to bring to the screen. The LEGO Movie showed that lack of in-built narrative can be an opportunity to let your imagination run wild, but this aims lower.
Too often, Trolls is happy to just be cute. Cute is nice enough, but clever and funny are better.
A creative team that has worked on various Shreks and Kung Fu Pandas has put together a plot that is just about good enough to get it from beginning to end without confusion, but doesn’t hold anything in the way of real surprises. The Trolls are a happy, clappy, huggy band who live in a tree in the middle of a town occupied by much bigger, even uglier monsters who believe the only way to experience happiness is to eat a Troll. Talk about your bad neighbourhoods. The bare bones of this story give every scope for taking absurd flights of fancy with the comedy, and the few times it decides to do that it bursts into life. Too often, though, it’s happy to just be cute. Cute is nice enough, but clever and funny are better.
The voice cast lifts it. Anna Kendrick, as the young leader of the Trolls, knows how to do adorable without being overly saccharine, and Justin Timberlake plays it pleasingly low-key as the most cynical of the Trolls. Much of the rest of the famous voice cast — James Corden, Gwen Stefani, Russell Brand — are there to add name recognition, rather than any real character. To dislike something this permanently upbeat would be hard. It’s too… pleasant to really annoy. It’s funny enough to induce smiles if not laughs, and sweet and likeable, if nothing more.
For all its awkwardness and fluff-brained logic, Trolls' enthusiasm is infectious.