"Trolls" Review: A Hairful of Happiness

I was expecting Trolls to be a snooze fest. After all, it’s been quite some time since we’ve heard about trolls. Those of us of a certain age remember playing with or seeing friends play with the long-haired dolls, and the 1992 cartoon. Dreamworks has reignited a franchise in a film that’s filled with humor and a touch of the feels.

Twenty years after her father, King Peppy (Jeffrey Tambor), saved the trolls from being eaten by ogre-like creatures called Bergens, Princess Poppy (Anna Kendrick) throws a commemorative party. It’s the loudest, happiest party ever, but unfortunately it’s also a calling card for Chef (Christine Baranski), a Bergen who has been searching for them since that date twenty years ago, to receive loud and clear. The Bergens are unhappy creatures, who are convinced the only way to experience happiness is by eating a troll. 

With a fanny pack full of trolls, Chef sets off to reclaim her place of respect amongst the Bergens. Poppy, with the help of a surly troll named Branch (Justin Timberlake), pursues Chef in order to free her friends. Along the way they meet a Bergen scullery maid named Bridget (Zooey Deschanel), who they are able to help find happiness in the form of her love for King Gristle (Christopher Mintz-Plasse) through song and dance numbers that you can’t help but tap your feet to.

While the set up for Trolls is pretty unoriginal (an overly happy character teams up with an overwhelmingly unhappy character to accomplish a task), Kendrick and Timberlake make for a great duo. Their chemistry makes for an enjoyable ride. Writers Jonathan Aibel and Glenn Berger draw up a world that is over the top infused with color and glitter, light hearted, and yet somehow grounded in a reality that’s emotionally tangible even for it’s youngest viewers.

Trolls has a clear message that anyone can be happy. Between its soundtrack and jokes, the film is guaranteed to make you leave the theater with a little bit of happiness in your pocket. So parents, don’t be surprised if trolls make an appearance in your home pretty soon. In fact, your old trolls stored away from long ago may make you cool this weekend! 

Rating: B


Kevin Sampson

The fact that Kevin Sampson is not just a film critic, but a writer, producer, and director as well makes his understanding of cinema even better. Coming from a theoretical and hands on approach, he understands both sides of the struggle of viewing and creating great works. After receiving an MFA in Film & Electronic Media from American University in Washington, D.C in 2011, Kevin took his love for film to the next level by creating and producing Picture Lock, an entertainment website, podcast, and hour long film review TV show that runs on Arlington Independent Media’s public access station in Arlington, VA. The show covers new releases, classic films, and interviews with local filmmakers in the DMV area. He is also a member of the Washington DC Area Film Critics Association and African American Film Critics Association. He is currently looking forward to filming his first feature film in the near future. He believes that film is one of the most powerful art forms in the world, and he hopes that he can use the craft to inspire others and make a difference in it.