Trolls looked to me like a feel-good family movie with singing and dancing that would leave me feeling upbeat and smiling. Actually, Trolls is a kids movie with singing and dancing that left me with a headache, relieved that I could go home and rest. This was a surprisingly exhausting film because it tries to force you to be happy. It has crazy colors and fast music that represent the messages of the film well, the loud, demanding style of the film just shoves its good feelings in your face and it’s not pleasant.
I didn’t really know the plot of the film going in, but I can tell you now that it’s not that interesting at all. I was expecting a family movie like many other DreamWorks films, but it falls under the same category that movies like Home and Turbo do: strictly for children. Kids will most likely have a good time with the movie because it’s loud, it’s colorful, and it’s always moving. For me, though, the story did nothing. I didn’t care about the Trolls or the Troll-hungry Bergens that are constantly trying to eat them. The story is put second after the visuals, so a lot is lacking in that department and it had no entertainment value to me.
The visuals that I keep bringing up, however, are fantastic. This is a beautifully animated film, with extreme detail in the hair of the Trolls and the fuzz on their clothes, and the vibrant environment (especially during musical scenes) is impressive, even though I’m not a fan of how it tries to force feelings on the audience. I like the happy tones of the film, I just didn’t appreciate it when it got too happy and ended up being sappy. When the dances break out, though, despite the lack of actual substance, I was amazed by the animation and the crazy colors swirling everywhere.
Since the story seems to have been lower down on the list of importance for the filmmakers, the characters are naturally pretty weak. I really liked one Troll, though, and that’s the character of Branch, played by Justin Timberlake. Maybe it’s because he was just as annoyed as I was throughout the film, or maybe it’s because he was the only character given an actual arc. The rest of the Trolls are very much like Smurfs: cheerful and carefree without any real motivation. Branch was at least given a bit of a backstory, and he wasn’t the exact same person he was at the beginning like most of the other Trolls were.
Little kids will have a blast with Trolls, but it seriously annoyed me, nearly to the point of insanity and I didn’t get anything out of it besides a cool hour-and-a-half long color show. I wish the writers had given more substance to the plot and the characters to make it a more enjoyable film for all members of the family, rather than just the toddlers. The music and dancing adds to the joyful mood of the movie, and in the end there are some important messages about being happy that children can learn from, but the stupid gags and flooding of bright colors and singing was way too much.
— Camden McDonald