To guide your summer getaway book selections, try this formula: E=FB²
The Bergens are miserable creatures, orthodontically challenged ogres fated, they believe, to wallowing in gloominess 364 days a year. But on Trollstice, they can taste happiness by capturing and eating an ever-cheerful Troll.
The Trolls have successfully lived in hiding for 20 years, but a fireworks-laced celebration betrays their location. Scowling, quadruple-chinned Chef (voiced by Christine Baranski), who has designs on wresting the throne of Bergen Town from baby-faced King Gristle (Christopher Mintz-Plasse), captures some of them.
“No troll left behind!” exclaims Princess Poppy (Anna Kendrick), leading a raid to get her friends back—and scrapbooking their adventure live. Once in Bergen Town, Poppy strikes a bargain with court scullery maid Bridget (Zooey Deschanel), who’s in love with Gristle: inside help for beauty tips. From this point, Trolls (rated PG for some mild rude humor) weaves together rescue mission and Cinderella stories.
I’ve shared the Bergens’ attitude (and, probably, their jagged grimace) walking out of many kids’ films, but DreamWorks has produced a treat with Trolls. Snappy dialogue, spectacular graphics, a catchy soundtrack, and a host of enchantingly odd varmints make Trolls a film worth taking in.
Gems outnumber grade-school bits of crude humor: Branch (Justin Timberlake) defibrillates Poppy with a pair of fireflies, and Gristle shops for bibs, gleefully selecting one emblazoned with something resembling a snaggletoothed duck.
“Aww, it’s got a ‘wingdingle’ on it!” the king chortles to the store clerk.
Even the musical numbers rollick with crafty sight gags. In one a Bergen lies in a shallow grave, rhythmically shoveling dirt on himself while in unison with his fellow wretches singing Gorillaz’s, “I got sunshine / In a bag …” (a song with a few explicit lyrics).
Sure, the “happiness is inside all of us” message doesn’t square with Christian teaching, but Trolls seems to be saying contentment isn’t found in consumption. Fair enough. Unfortunately, a handful of grating moments tarnish an otherwise delightful film.