Trolls World Tour finds itself in a rather unique position thanks in part to the COVID-19 pandemic. Originally slated to be released in theatres, the film marks the first major Hollywood title to premiere via a on demand release. While an unconventional release in unconventional times, the decision benefits both the film and how audiences receive it.
Since No Time to Die, the latest installment in the Bond franchise, has been postponed, Trolls World Tour has no real competition and a larger than usual pool of potential eyeballs eager for entertainment. Parents looking for ways to keep the kids occupied will find the $20 for a 48-hour rental price point, which is far cheaper than a night at the theatre for a family of four, particularly appealing.
Picking up shortly after peace has been restored to their land, Poppy (Anna Kendrick) is adjusting to life as queen and Branch (Justin Timberlake) is struggling to express his true feelings for Poppy. Little do they know that Queen Barb (Rachel Bloom), the leader of the Hard Rock Trolls, is conducting a game changing world tour. Determined to claim the “strings” that provide the essence for each tribe’s brand of music, Queen Barb wants to unify all the trolls around the world under the house of hard rock.
Shocked to discover that her pop music loving clan are not the only trolls in the world, Poppy initially sets out to make friends with Barb. A plan that does not sit well with the sceptical Branch. However, when the pair see the destructive power of Barb’s tribe, they race to warn the other groups (e.g. Country Trolls, Funk Trolls, etc.) of the danger headed their way.
In normal times, Trolls World Tour would probably be viewed as a thinly conceived sequel that is designed to expand the longevity of the franchise. However, in a time when society longs for connection and any semblance of pre-pandemic life, Trolls World Tour offers a fitting blend of music, nostalgia and hope. It is a film that plays like the Guitar Hero version of animated films, a musical genre-spanning work that will have audiences bopping their heads every step of the way.
Featuring songs that will appeal to almost every musical taste, Trolls World Tour is a film that is all about the importance of diversity and inclusion. It aims to teach kids that we are stronger together than apart; but also demonstrates that being together means accepting each other’s differences. Unfortunately, the lesson of acceptance does not really resonate in this film like it does in Zootopia.
While Zootopia wrapped its themes around a richly constructed narrative, the plot feels more like an afterthought here. Director Walt Dohrn seems more concerned with using the film’s message as an excuse to incorporate as much music as possible. Furthermore, instead of truly fleshing out its plot and numerous characters, the film opts for several trippy sequences that never fit with the film’s overall tone. All of this makes for an uneven film. Not that it will matter though, children will eat up this colourful music infused adventure and parents will be thankful for the temporary distraction.