Top positive review
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Once a skeptic. Now a proselytizing convert.
on January 8, 2017
When I saw the teasers for this movie, I thought "Great, another Angry Birds movie. Just a bunch of crass fart jokes wrapped around a commercial thing that a certain group of people love, marketed as a kids/family movie, but probably too inappropriate and with too many jokes that will go over their heads. Probably no plot and very little moral-of-the-story. Not gonna feed that to my kid." And yet, I also lamented that, at the time, there were no other movies to show to my 4-year-old. So I watched another trailer and saw that the movie would be filled with song-and-dance numbers. "Hmm," I thought. "My son will love those. I mean...they don't look terrible. Maybe it won't be so bad."
Well, I'm here to tell you it was GREAT. It wasn't just good because I had low expectations (though that probably worked in its favor). I'm saying, as a father and as a professional storyteller, it was great. The plot was good (perhaps a bit predictable, but only in the large details, not necessarily in how the plot moves from A to B to C) and had enough pleasant surprises to keep me and my son entertained throughout. The songs were fantastic (they introduced my kid to some older music that I know and love, plus had some new stuff and a really good mix of genres). The animation was great. The characters were genuinely enjoyable to watch, and their actions had genuine consequences (something I really applaud in any story).
As for the fart jokes, yes there were a few of those (though much less than I thought), and they mostly consisted of one specific troll shooting glitter out of his bum whenever he was excited, scared, celebrating, fighting, etc. And since it was specific to the one troll (one who was covered with glitter and whose name was Guy Diamond)...it seemed perfectly appropriate and just irreverent enough to be funny without being offensive.
[SMALL SPOILER AHEAD]
What was perhaps the most surprising of all, though, was that Trolls had a genuine moral to its story—one that wasn't shoe-horned in there but was instead entirely authentic to the plot and characters we were presented. And the moral is this: "We don't need to rely on an external thing to make us happy. We can simply be happy...by choosing to be happy." I think that is something we can all take to heart no matter our age. It is also something we can never be reminded too often, and I think Trolls illustrates that idea very poignantly, without sermonizing and with more fun and pomp than I could reasonably ask for.
One note of caution: when I took my son to see this movie, he was worried it would be scary, and was very reluctant to see the film because he was under the impression the trolls in this film were like those that a certain hobbit had to fight... Well, these trolls were definitely not scary, BUT the "Bergen" that want to eat the trolls were a lot less kid-friendly. At one point, he asked me to plug his ears so that he wouldn't be scared, then he would close his eyes and peek out occasionally. I was worried we might have to leave the theater, but he stuck through it and LOVED the movie. Absolutely hands-down loved it (and especially the ending). I don't personally think his fear is reflective of the film being scary, but the film's evil cook is definitely a fearsome creature, and I could see the plot (cuddly protagonists trying not to get eaten by scary antagonists) being too much for some young viewers. Even so, I invite parents to give it a try as the theme, the songs, and the fun characters are certainly worth it.
FINAL VERDICT: I originally expected to despise this film and went to see it with great reluctance. When I left the theater, though, I found myself (no-longer-reluctantly) admitting that this was one of the best films I had seen that year (and I saw a fair number of family/kid-friendly movies in 2016). I eagerly encouraged family and friends to see it over the holidays, and I have been looking forward to buying it once it is released (so much so that I am pre-ordering it on Amazon). Even compared against what I have seen so far this year, it was far better than SING (which I saw just last week), as it has more musical numbers, more interesting characters, better moral lessons, and an infinitely better plot. I still enjoyed SING, mind you, but I had far more fun watching Trolls, and I expect anyone who watches it to have a similarly good time.