‘Trolls World Tour’ offers a needed escape

Photo courtesy of Dreamworks Animation

Our Take: 4/5 Stars

After the runaway success of “Trolls,” it was only a matter of time before the lovable, hairy characters returned to the screen. “Trolls World Tour” brings them to life once again and presents them with an entirely different adventure than the first installment. Using light humor, catchy music, timely morals and eye-catching animation, “Trolls World Tour” offers an engrossing escape to children and adults alike.

The beloved characters of “Trolls World Tour” picks up where they first left off. Newly crowned Queen Poppy (voiced by Anna Kendrick, “Pitch Perfect”) is settling into her role as Queen of the Pop Trolls when she receives a party invitation from an unknown Queen Barb of the Rock Trolls (Rachel Bloom, “Crazy Ex-Girlfriend”). Poppy learns that there are six tribes of Trolls (Pop, Rock, Classical, Funk, Country and Techno) and that each possesses a string that allows them to play their own style of music. Excited to see the other kingdoms, Poppy sets out with Branch (Justin Timberlake, “The Social Network”), who hopes to confess his true feelings for her.

Upon arriving at the Classical Trolls kingdom, Poppy finds it in ruins and learns of Barb’s true intentions to collect all six strings and turn all the Trolls into Rock Zombies. Poppy and Branch visit, and are unable to recruit, the Country Trolls on their mission to stop Barb.

While the storyline may be predictable, the animation is electric and creative. Poppy’s hot air balloon looks carefully felted and stitched. The rolling hills around the Country Trolls look like homey quilts. Every pompom, hair strand and speck of glitter that builds the world of “Trolls” is vividly animated and creates a whimsical escape.

The morals and lessons taught by the movie are important for all audiences. After meeting, working with and listening to the Trolls of all the tribes, Poppy learns that differences should be celebrated — not exterminated. While the different types of Trolls may look and sound different, they all love making and sharing music. Life is better with music and even better when all the Trolls can work and sing together. These themes are thrown in amongst a lot of hair, punny lines and peppy songs; it is easy to get lost in the shuffle of the dozens of characters and some smaller side plots. However, these themes still remain central to the story and stand out as important and uplifting, no matter how cliché.

While the plot may not leave room for surprise, the soundtrack delivers a diverse mix of upbeat, danceable songs. Featuring artists like Kelly Clarkson, Mary J. Blige, Anthony Ramos, HAIM and Anderson Paak, the soundtrack shows that the movie celebrates the diversity of life with eclectic jams. The first single of the soundtrack, “The Other Side,” featuring SZA and Justin Timberlake, offers a R&B inspired track that differs greatly from the first film’s bubblegum pop megahit “Can’t Stop the Feeling.” Country ballads like “Born to Die” and techno songs like “One More Time” provide a great look into the individual Troll Worlds while “Just Sing” brings them all together.

Not everyone was feeling upbeat about the film, though. “Trolls World Tour” was one of the first to prove that a theater release is not always necessary for a film to be a large success.

Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, Universal Pictures allowed “Trolls World Tour” to be available for digital release the same day that it was available in a small number of theaters. This breached a contract signed with AMC. The theatre chain later made a statement claiming that they will no longer show movies made by Universal Pictures.

Despite the bad hair day “Trolls World Tour” may be giving theater executives, it promises to give viewers of all ages something to cheer and sing about.

“Trolls World Tour” is available to stream for $19.99 now on YouTube, Google Play, and Amazon Prime.