‘Trolls World Tour’ takes a very sparse narrative and surrounds it with an endless singalong.
Kernel Rating: 3 out of 5
MPAA Rating: PG Length: 90 minutes
Age Appropriate For: 5+. The ‘Trolls’ sequel focuses on a takeover attempt by the Hard Rock Trolls. They attack and destroy the lands of the other trolls, and we see the destroyed communities that are burnt, graffitied, and otherwise terrorized. Bounty hunters are tasked to track down and capture trolls, who are held captive against their will, and some are transformed into zombies by listening to a certain kind of music. There are two different characters who are portrayed as being briefly dead, including one who sees their own version of heaven. Characters insult each other and the types of music they like; some arguing between friends about the meaning of their relationship. Some flirting between various characters and some declarations of love; brief nudity, including a few trolls who are portrayed as nude at all times and others who briefly display their bottoms through split points; a mention of twerking; and we see characters, both male and female, “give birth” to babies through eggs that sit atop their heads in their mounds of hair.
By Roxana Hadadi
Arriving four years after “Trolls,” “Trolls World Tour” is the first film to be directly released for home rental after the COVID-19 outbreak around the world. And perhaps this was the best way for “Trolls World Tour” to be viewed: The film relies so heavily on its singalong aspects—even more than the original “Trolls”—that it’s probably best consumed at home, where bursting into song is more encouraged than in a crowded movie theater. Plot-wise, “Trolls World Tour” is incredibly slight, but it might serve as an entertaining-enough diversion.
“Trolls World Tour” opens some time after “Trolls”: Queen Poppy (voiced by Anna Kendrick) continues to rule over the Pop Trolls, where every day is filled with “singing, dancing, and hugging.” Although Poppy is worried about being an effective queen, she is still adored by best friend Branch (voiced by Justin Timberlake), who is worried that he’ll be rejected when he expresses his love for her. (This storyline feels recycled from the first “Trolls” film, but is the majority of Branch’s narrative arc here.) And those two problems collide when Poppy learns that there are other trolls in the world, not just the Pop Trolls: Country, Funk, Classical, Hard Rock, and Techno. All those trolls have their own kinds of music, and they all live separately from each other.
Poppy, being who she is, believes that all the trolls should find a way to live together in harmony—and she thinks she has an ally for that in Queen Barb (voiced by Rachel Bloom), the queen of the Hard Rock Trolls, who sends Poppy an invitation to a world tour. What Poppy doesn’t know, however, is that Barb has her own agenda. She wants to collect all the magical strings that provide the different trolls communities their own music and use them to unite everyone under the Hard Rock banner. Every musical style is inferior, Barb argues, and she wants the only remaining style to be “one music—our music.”
So “Trolls World Tour” follows Barb as she leads the Hard Rock Trolls, nicknamed the Barbarians, to other Trolls lands and destroys them, and also follows Poppy and Branch as they attempt to stop her. Along the way, Poppy and Branch learn about other styles of music and realize that the history they’ve been taught about the Pop Trolls isn’t as entirely innocent as they thought. In that way, “Trolls World Tour” is unexpected in its perspective that sometimes our most popular and well-accepted concepts of ourselves aren’t the most honest. The movie makes clear that whether it is Barb wanting everyone to listen to hard rock, or Poppy wanting everyone to listen to pop music, both of them are wrong. “Denying our difference is denying the truth of who we are,” King Quincy (voiced by George Clinton) of the Funk Trolls tells Poppy, and that film’s message is nicely educational.
Aside from that, though, “Trolls World Tour” doesn’t offer much in terms of story. We share the Pop Trolls’s perspective for most of the film, so we follow them as they learn about Country, Funk, and Classical; meanwhile, although we see the Hard Rock Trolls destroy other lands, their motivations aren’t really clarified. Why they would want to rule over everyone else isn’t explored, and that makes the ending of the film a little flat. The same goes for the friction between Poppy and Branch—“Trolls” ends with the two of them having an implied romantic connection, but that whole storyline is gone over again here. For young viewers, perhaps none of this will be problematic because the film’s animation style is as colorful and lively as the “Trolls,” and the differences in location allow for new troll character designs. Most of the songs the trolls perform are older and pretty recognizable, like “Party Rock,” “Who Let the Dogs Out,” and “Crazy Train,” so singalong opportunities abound, and at only 80 minutes of movie time, “Trolls World Tour” moves pretty briskly. It’s not particularly impactful, but it should be entertaining enough for young viewers.
“Trolls World Tour” is currently available for VOD 48-hour rental through Prime Video, Apple TV, Comcast, DirecTV, Vudu, Google and YouTube, Verizon, and more.