“Trolls World Tour” – “So tell me what you want, what you really, really want. I wanna, (ha) I wanna, (ha) I wanna, (ha) I wanna, (ha). I wanna really, really, really wanna zigazig ah.” – Spice Girls, “Wannabe”
“One man’s nonsense is another man’s sense.” – author Peter Cameron, “Someday This Pain Will Be Useful to You”
Poppy (Anna Kendrick) is over the moon. Over the moon…in her world. She’s Queen Poppy of the Troll Pop Kingdom, a place with rainbow-splashed mushrooms, truckloads of glitter and more neon pink and green than a 1984 Wham! concert. Bouncy, positive vibes can be felt everywhere, as sugary-sweet discourse and the aforementioned colorful, Candyland surroundings are only topped by inspired music performances by this joyful collection of diminutive beings.
Well, unbeknown to Poppy, her close friend Branch (Justin Timberlake) and almost everyone else in this Whoville on cherry-flavored laughing gas, the world also supports five other Troll kingdoms, and they define themselves through specific music genres. Yes, trolls also live in the Funk, Country, Techno, Classical, and Rock Kingdoms, but the last-mentioned community aims to colossally clutter the others’ cultures.
In “Trolls World Tour”, directors Walt Dohrn and David P. Smith – along with five screenwriters – and a long list of musicians and Hollywood thespians donate to a noble message: let’s embrace diversity. Although the film sometimes highlights the trolls’ physical differences, the contrasting cultures – primarily influenced by music – drive the celebrated distinctions.
At one point, Poppy rightfully asserts, “Listen to other voices, even when they don’t agree with us.”
Hey, maybe that explains the need for five screenwriters…or not.
Even with so many scribes, “Trolls World Tour” borrows its main storyline from “Avengers: Infinity War” (2018). You see, a mohawked psycho named Queen Barb of the Hard Rock Trolls (Rachel Bloom) travels to the other kingdoms and attempts to steal their associated mystical musical strings, attach them to her guitar, and then strum an ultimate power chord to turn all trolls into rock and roll zombies.
Six strings and six kingdoms will be under Barb’s control, because – according to her – who wants to listen to funk, country, techno, classical, and pop music, right? Dohrn and Smith apparently forgot ska, bluegrass and industrial, but perhaps they’ll be included in a sequel.
Regardless, the “Infinity War” odes include the sparkly colors of each valued string and a very brief turn-to-dust visual. Also, Queen Barb rolls, flies and swims in an intimating black caravan straight from “Mad Max: Fury Road” (2015), and the Rock Kingdom resides at a volcano reminiscent of Mordor from “The Lord of the Rings” trilogy.
There’s no denying the impressive world building and massive cast of characters, and the players come in all shapes and sizes, like a doughy Biggie (James Corden), big-haired Delta Dawn (Texan Kelly Clarkson), bedazzled Tiny Diamond (Kenan Thompson), and a talking flute named Pennywhistle (Charlyne Yi), to name a few.
Take note that Mary J. Blige, George Clinton, Sam Rockwell, Jamie Dornan, and Ozzy Osbourne bring their talents to these goofy, misshapen “H.R. Pufnstuf” animated oddities as well. Certainly, Dohrn, Smith and a minivan of writers believe that more is more. We are whisked from one wild locale to another, as trolls sing catchy snippets of “(Trolls) Just Wanna Have Fun”, “Groove is in the Heart”, “One More Time”, and “Crazy Train”.
Part of the fun is wondering what famous song will come up next, but because so many are included, most times we only get 20 seconds of a memorable ditty. Oh, can we hear more of Heart’s “Barracuda”, and does the Rock Kingdom have to play the bad apple? It’s not like rock has been trampling on the music scene over the last 20 years. Quite the opposite. That’s a minor complaint, but a bigger one is that “Trolls World Tour” is more of a busy and scattershot shiny object rather than a polished example of masterful storytelling. Well, everyone on-screen seems to be having fun, and with current lockdowns in place – due to the miserable COVID-19 pandemic – maybe a light, agreeable (but also loud) escape is just what the doctor ordered. Maybe not. Sure, one person’s sense is another’s nonsense, but hey, young kids will probably like it…or at least be distracted.
⭐⭐ out of ⭐⭐⭐⭐
Image and Trailer credits: DreamWorksTV