TROLLS (U, 92 mins) Animation/Musical/Comedy/Drama/Romance. Featuring the voices of Anna Kendrick, Justin Timberlake, Zooey Deschanel, Christopher Mintz-Plasse, James Corden, Russell Brand, Gwen Stefani, Kunal Nayyar, Christine Baranski, John Cleese, Jeffrey Tambor. Directors: Walt Dohrn, Mike Mitchell.
Now in cinemas across the UK and Ireland.
Crammed to bursting with toe-tapping pop ditties courtesy of Simon & Garfunkel, Lionel Richie, Donna Summer and Justin Timberlake, Trolls is 92 minutes of glitter-dusted, computer-animated joy that is virtually impossible to resist.
Based on the fluffy-haired good luck trolls designed by Thomas Dam, which have inspired numerous fads since the early 1960s, Walt Dohrn and Mike Mitchell’s musical misadventure unleashes a colour-saturated assault on the senses from the opening frames.
By the time Anna Kendrick’s irrepressibly perky heroine launches into her opening song and dance number - a mash-up of Move Your Feet, D.A.N.C.E. and It’s A Sunshine Day replete with elaborate hairography - only the most stony-hearted curmudgeon will remain motionless in their seat.
In the brief moments the film does sit still, the script gently tugs heartstrings by promoting its messages of self-acceptance and inner fortitude, including an obvious yet poignant use of a Cyndi Lauper ballad to hammer home the idea that happiness comes from within, not from wealth or material possessions.
Once a year on the Trollstice, a race of disgruntled ogres called Bergens unlock their inner joy by feasting on shiny trolls.
King Gristle Sr (voiced by John Cleese) and his drooling head Chef (Christine Baranski) lead the festivities but the Bergens’ reverie is cut short when the trolls, led by benevolent King Peppy (Jeffrey Tambor), escape to a new home.
“I never got to eat a troll. What’s going to make me happy now?” snivels young Prince Gristle Jr (Christopher Mintz-Plasse).
“Nothing,” replies the king tersely.
Twenty years after the great escape, Princess Poppy (Kendrick) has succeeded as ruler of the trolls, who sing, dance, enjoy group hugs and feverishly glue felt and paper into their scrapbooks.
Everyone except for eternal pessimist Branch (Justin Timberlake), who lives in a Bergen-proof subterranean bunker crammed with 10 years of rations.
When the Bergen Chef discovers the new troll village and captures several of Poppy’s friends, including zen master Creek (Russell Brand) and Biggie (James Corden), the princess pleads with Branch for assistance.
“Why don’t you try scrapbooking them to freedom?” he responds meanly.
Overcoming their initial differences, Poppy and Branch embark on a daredevil rescue mission to the Bergen castle where they play matchmakers to Prince Gristle Jr and scullery maid Bridget (Zooey Deschanel).
Trolls shimmies and sways like an animated version of Pitch Perfect, relentlessly plundering contemporary songbooks to verbalise characters’ emotions.
Kendrick’s vocal performance fizzes and she gels wonderfully with Timberlake as the downbeat voice of reason.
Admittedly, Jonathan Aibel and Glenn Berger’s screenplay is simplistic and the trolls’ and Bergens’ journeys of self-discovery are largely linear.
While Trolls might be lacking sophistication and cute in-jokes, it bursts with whizz-popping energy.
It’s the cinematic equivalent of a mouth crammed to bursting with popping candy.