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Review: Trolls World Tour (2020)

Trolls World Tour (2020)

Directed by: Walt Dohrn and David P. Smith

Premise: A sequel to the 2016 film. Poppy and Branch (voices of Anna Kendrick and Justin Timberlake) discover that their village is one of several Troll communities, each defined by a genre of music. The queen of rock (voice of Rachel Bloom) sets out to destroy all other forms of music.

What Works: The Trolls films are an adaption of the plastic dolls. The toy line didn’t really suggest a story the way G.I. Joe or Transformers did but the filmmakers have managed to create a coherent and fun picture. The sequel picks up with Poppy now the queen of the pop village in which life is built around singing and dancing to bubble gum music. They discover that there is an entire world of other troll villages, each with its own musical style. Meanwhile, the queen of hard rock decides she is going to unite the various troll villages by capturing their magical harp string and then use it to forcibly covert all trolls to hard rock. This story is an allegory about multiculturalism; the different musical genres are stand-ins for entire cultures and Trolls World Tour is about two competing ideas of bringing people together: homogenizing all cultures into one versus mutual coexistence with everyone retaining and sharing their ways. This idea isn’t deeply disguised and children ought to recognize the point as easily as their parents. About halfway through the movie this idea is complicated in a way that is admirable and adds a little nuance to the movie. Trolls World Tour impresses with its music and its design. The music consists of covers, with multiple songs strung together in medleys, and the music is impressively arranged and matches the visual style. Trolls World Tour has a zany and high energy look. What’s especially impressive are the troll villages. Each location has a different visual design that is appropriate to their musical genre.  

What Doesn’t: There is a difference between a family film and a children’s movie. Trolls World Tour is a children’s picture. It’s primarily designed to appeal to the youngest viewers and it doesn’t offer a whole lot to older audiences. With its social message about tolerance and diversity, the movie feels like a special episode of a cartoon in which the characters learn an important life lesson. The diversity message of the movie is simplistic. The ending of the picture is somewhat of a copout that resolves the conflicts of the story without any sacrifice or decisive choices. Given that World Tour is primarily intended for children, the simplicity is appropriate for the picture. But that’s also what keeps it a children’s picture instead of a family film.

DVD extras: There are multiple blu-ray releases of Trolls World Tour. The “Dance Party Edition” includes a commentary track, featurettes, deleted scenes, and a dance party mode.

Bottom Line: Trolls World Tour is a nice and inoffensive children’s picture. The movie’s message isn’t very challenging but it is well intentioned. World Tour ought to keep children entertained with its mix of high energy songs and zany visuals.

Episode: #816 (September 6, 2020)