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On a scale from Smurfs to The Lego Movie, this sits bang in the middle.
By Sarah Ward
December 04, 2016
By Sarah Ward
December 04, 2016

Trolls brings its tiny, brightly coiffed creatures to the screen with plenty of baggage. You might have played with the toys that the film is based on. You probably don't have particularly fond memories of many other toy-based franchises – think Transformers, G.I. Joe and Battleship. At the very least, you've almost certainly had Justin Timberlake's inescapable 'Can't Stop the Feeling', which features in the flick, stuck in your head for months.

Here's the good news: as directed by SpongeBob SquarePants veterans Mike Mitchell and Walt Dohrn, Trolls is far from the eye-roll-worthy effort it might seem like on paper. On a scale ranging from The Smurfs to The LEGO Movie, it falls firmly in the middle — even if it does little more than swap blue critters for their brightly coloured counterparts, with elements of Cinderella thrown in as well.

Here, trolls are "the happiest creatures the world has ever known," and don't they like to sing, dance and hug about it. The scrapbook-loving, party-throwing Princess Poppy (Anna Kendrick) often leads the charge, and she has plenty to celebrate. Twenty years earlier, the pocket-sized folk were frequently scooped up and eaten by huge, hungry beings called Bergens, but quick thinking on the part of King Peppy (Jeffrey Tambor) saw them escape and live joyously ever after.

But their idyllic existance is suddenly shattered when an evil chef (Christine Baranski) stumbles upon their habitat. Soon, a handful of trolls are destined for the plate of Bergen Prince Gristle (Christopher Mintz-Plasse), leaving Poppy with the task of saving them, and cranky survivalist Branch (Timberlake) begrudgingly lending his assistance.

There's a reason that the Bergens are so keen on catching and munching on the rainbow-hued critters: when they do, they experience a burst of ecstatic contentment that's probably on par with humans eating Nutella-slathered doughnuts. That sensation, of course, ties into the lesson at the heart of the film. As Trolls works towards the song we all know is coming — and throws up various other pop covers along the way — it serves up a heavy-handed moral about finding happiness from internal sources rather than external ones.

Still, somehow the movie manages to find a balance between loud, shiny and sickly sweet, and entertaining enough. Kendrick's enthusiastic voice work helps, as do the handmade-looking visuals, which make the film's CGI appear as though it's fashioned out of felt and other crafting products. On the joke front, just as many light-hearted gags and pop culture references land as languish, which is a better strike rate than many other family films.

A word of warning though: it might be dressed up in fuzzy packaging in more ways than one, but Trolls also remains the kind of flick that features glitter fart clouds and cupcakes poop. Consider yourself warned.

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