A karaoke mon­ster mash

The Irish Times - Friday - The Ticket - - FILM REVIEWS - TARA BRADY

TROLLS Di­rected by Mike Mitchell and Walt Dohrn. Star­ring Anna Ken­drick, Justin Tim­ber­lake, Zooey Deschanel, Rus­sell Brand, James Cor­den, Gwen Ste­fani. Cert G, gen re­lease, 92mins

Trolls starts as it means to go on: with a big pink, sticky splat of bub­ble-gum, as the col­lec­tive voice cast – led by Anna Ken­drick at her sun­ni­est – cover Ju­nior Se­nior’s Move Your Feet. There is a case to be made against Trolls, a mu­si­cal-com­edy that man­ages to turn The Sound of Si­lence into a perky sin­ga­long an­them, and that pri­mar­ily ex­ists to shift weirdly hir­sute dolls.

A lot of care goes into that textured, lus­trous Day-Glo hair. A lot less at­ten­tion has been lav­ished on the plot, but here goes. An over­ture in­tro­duces us to the tyran­ni­cally happy trolls who, we are told, are con­sumed by a race of ogres known as Ber­gens at an an­nual fes­ti­val. In or­der to keep the rat­ing suit­able for the very young tar­get de­mo­graphic, the trolls es­cape their larger cap­tors be­fore any on­screen can­ni­bal­ism can oc­cur. They set up home in a retina-daz­zling part of the for­est, where they are free to sing, dance, hug ev­ery half-hour, and, in the case of Princess Poppy (Anna Ken­drick), make adorable felt scrap­books.

Even­tu­ally, their ex­u­ber­ance brings them, once again, to the at­ten­tion of the Ber­gens, prompt­ing Poppy to call upon Branch (Justin Tim­ber­lake) – the sole grumpy troll – to aid her in a res­cue mis­sion.

This slen­der nar­ra­tive is padded out by karaoke tunes, many of which were hits be­fore the par­ents of the tar­get de­mo­graphic were born: Earth, Wind & Fire’s Septem­ber gets what may be its mil­lionth movie air­ing. The orig­i­nal tracks (bar Tim­ber­lake’s Can’t Stop the Feel­ing and the Let-It-Go- alike Get Back Up Again) aren’t nec­es­sar­ily as mem­o­rable as the cov­ers of Lionel Richie’s Hello or Go­ril­laz’ Clint East­wood.

One troll ap­pears to uri­nate glit­ter and an­other poops cup­cakes but the film is still a good deal less scat­o­log­i­cal than the sim­i­larly-minded Alvin and the Chip­munks, and a good deal more charm­ing than ei­ther of the Smurfs movies. Ken­drick and Tim­ber­lake bring snappy comic tim­ing, even when the di­a­logue could be wit­tier. Co-di­rec­tor Walt Dohrn steals the pic­ture as a high-fiv­ing cloud-bro.

In time for Christ­mas: Trolls

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