And thank God for Justin Timberlake, because without his character in Trolls, this movie would be completely insufferable. Timberlake’s Branch is the only Troll with an understandable sense of unease that dreaded monsters the Bergens are desperate to find the eye-poppingly bright community of trolls living blissfully carefree in the woods. Twenty years earlier, the Trolls escaped the clutches of the Bergens, who are such a bunch of miserable creatures that they can only find happiness when they eat the multicoloured-haired Trolls. Branch warns his fellow trolls not to have parties full of loud singing and glittery fireworks, but will the irrepressible Princess Poppy and the other trolls listen?
No, they bloody won't, the annoying little buggers. No wonder Branch is miserable and hiding in a hole in the ground. So when the Bergen head chef finds the trolls and carries some off to Bergen town to turn into tasty treats, Poppy must enlist Branch to help her in rescuing her friends so that they don't miss out on anymore scheduled hugs times, singing, dancing, and lest we forget... scrapbooking.
While much of the movie is frustratingly filled with infuriating pop songs belted out by Anna Kendrick while she refuses to see the danger all around her, it eventually gets darker and far more interesting once the mismatched pair reaches Bergen town. Looking like something Laika would lovingly animate in stop-motion, Bergen town injects some much-needed darkness and ugliness into proceedings. It's here where eventually the character arcs some reap rewards with both Branch lightening up and Poppy losing a little of her of teeth-grinding peppiness.
Just in case you don't realise where this is heading, remember that the only troll with any emotions other than happy is played by Justin ‘Can’t Stop the Feeling’ Timberlake. The voice casting isn't subtle and Anna Kendrick is almost unbearable for much of the film, but Russell Brand gets a few laughs mocking his own persona as a spiritual hippy Troll.
But the real spark in Trolls comes not in its bright colours, rap-infused pop songs or occasional bursts of inventive action. What it eventually delivers is a potent message about popping medication in your mouth to make you happy. The Bergens believe that eating a Troll is the only way to happiness, whereas the trolls have regularly scheduled hugging breaks. If that sounds too saccharine or simplistic, steer well clear of Trolls. If on the other hand, you think you can get through Princess Poppy’s constant penchant for breaking into song, you might just find something to enjoy beneath the motivation to sell some little plastic toys with big multi-coloured hair.
If nothing else, Trolls manages the incredible feat of making the annoyingly talented Justin Timberlake, not only pretty ugly but also easily the most likeable character in a movie that could drown in its own irritating positivity.
TROLLS / CERT: U / DIRECTORS: MIKE MITCHELL, WALT DOHRN / SCREENPLAY: JONATHAN AIBEL, GLENN BERGER / STARRING: ANNA KENDRICK, ZOOEY DESCHANEL, JUSTIN TIMBERLAKE, JEFFREY TAMBOR / RELEASE DATE: OCTOBER 21ST
Expected Rating: 5 out of 10