Prior to COVID-19 taking a hold of the industry in a capacity the world was unprepared for, Trolls World Tour was primed for a first quarter release – hell, Sydney was even planning a premiere with director Walt Dohrn and star Anna Kendrick in attendance – ready to capitalise on the somewhat-unexpected success of the first film (2016’s Trolls) and its disco-lite promo single (Justin Timberlake and SZA‘s “The Other Side”). But then the coronavirus disrupted the cinematic landscape, and in a particularly ballsy move, Universal Studios opted to offer the film as an On-Demand title, meaning families could pay a slightly higher price than the average theatre ticket to enjoy it in their comfort of their own home, a habitat that we all had to become accustomed to.
At least that was the mentality across the United States. Here in Australia, Trolls World Tour is earning the cinema spot it intended, albeit 6 months later. Conversations regarding its online accessibility can be had, but there’s something comforting about a studio sticking to their guns and releasing a film in its intended format. Trolls World Tour isn’t a cinematic necessity by any means, but its almost-insultingly vibrant aesthetic and booming soundtrack feel comfortable on the big screen, and you can almost guarantee there’s audiences still clamouring for such an experience.
Maintaining the same positive mentality of its predecessor, Trolls World Tour picks up where the first film left off, except now princess Poppy (Kendrick, as enthusiastic as you’d expect) is queen of her Troll kingdom, ruling with a sunny disposition and a pop state of mind. There doesn’t seem to be too much to worry about until Barb (Rachel Bloom), queen of the Hard Rock Trolls, announces her plans to unify all the different Troll houses under the key of rock; yes, Jonathan Aibel and Glenn Berger‘s script utilises different musical genres to symbolise the differences within each human personality.
All this time under the impression that the Pop trolls were the only ones in existence – which would explain why the first film relied so heavily on the genre – Poppy and her wants-to-be-more-than-a-friend friend Branch (Timberlake) seek out a plan to save themselves from Barb’s plan, which extends to warning the other various musical Troll kingdoms (Country Trolls, Funk Trolls, etc) about her intention.
Whilst it is a bit of a stretch to link musical genres to the idea of acceptance, Trolls World Tour has its heart in the right place that it’s easy to forgive the fact that this film is essentially just an excuse to compile an eclectic-enough soundtrack, allowing such talent as Kelly Clarkson (as the leader of the Country Trolls), Sam Rockwell (as a secret yodeler), J Balvin (as leader of the lesser-recognised Reggaeton Trolls), and Jamie Dornan (as a Smooth Jazz Troll) to indulge in their musical talent. The notion of so many different genres being explored means the soundtrack has a bit more of range to it too – it’s still very safe though – further leaning into the film’s message of acceptance; it’s not emotional impact on a Disney-level but it works regardless.
This message and the film’s soundtrack very much feel like Trolls World Tour‘s main modus operandi, with the story more of an afterthought, which lends the film am unevenness. Having said that, the target audience are unlikely to be concerned with the film’s lack of plot or character development, and with such a happy temperament it’s difficult to disregard Trolls World Tour‘s well-intentioned mindset during these questionable times.
THREE STARS (OUT OF FIVE)
Trolls World Tour is screening in most Australian cinemas from September 17th 2020.