TROLLS WORLD TOUR movie poster | ©2020 Universal Pictures/DreamWorks

TROLLS WORLD TOUR movie poster | ©2020 Universal Pictures/DreamWorks

Rating: PG
Stars (voices): Anna Kendrick, Justin Timberlake, Rachel Bloom, James Corden, Ron Funches, Kelly Clarkson, Anderson .Paak, Sam Rockwell, George Clinton, Mary J. Blige, Ozzy Osbourne
Writers: Jonathan Aibel & Glenn Berger and Maya Forbes & Wally Wolodarsky and Elizabeth Tippet, story by Jonathan Aibel & Glenn Berger
Director: Walter Dohrn
Distributor: Universal Pictures/DreamWorks
Release Date (VOD): April 10, 2020

TROLLS WORLD TOUR is among the first of the major studio releases to come out directly on VOD and streaming, rather than in movie theaters, as the result of sensible precautions during a pandemic. A few other features have cut their theatrical releases short, but TROLLS WORLD TOUR is the first big family film to make the jump.

Before diving into TROLLS WORLD TOUR as an animated film, it’s worth discussing it as a financial value proposition. A single person, especially in regions where movie tickets are under $10, may balk at the $20 price tag associated with the erstwhile theatrical but now VOD/streaming releases. However, where even one parent and a child are involved, $20 is less onerous. If there’s more than one adult and/or more than one kid in the home audience, the price can turn into an actual bargain. (In Los Angeles, for instance, getting even one adult and one child into a first-run film will cost more than $20 just for tickets, and that’s without factoring in parking and snacks.) For a family of four or more, it’s a steal.

TROLLS WORLD TOUR is a sequel to 2016’s TROLLS. In the earlier film, the musically-inclined, cheerful title characters tried (successfully – this is family fare) to avoid being eaten by the depressed, ogre-like Bergens. The Trolls taught the Bergens how to be happy, and now peace prevails.

TROLLS WORLD TOUR movie poster | ©2020 Universal Pictures/DreamWorks

TROLLS WORLD TOUR movie poster | ©2020 Universal Pictures/DreamWorks

But new trouble looms on the horizon. Queen Poppy (voiced by Anna Kendrick) of the Pop Trolls learns that hers is but one tribe of Trolls, each devoted to a different kind of music. Queen Barb (voiced by Rachel Bloom), ruler of the Hard Rock Trolls, has decided to conquer all of Troll-kind and make everyone a hard rocker, by force. Poppy, ever-optimistic, thinks that she can befriend Barb and convince her that all Trolls are really the same. Poppy’s loving if grumpy friend Branch (voiced by Justin Timberlake) and their nervous pal Biggie (voiced by James Corden) join her on the quest, even though Branch thinks Poppy is not thinking things through.

On a separate front, giraffe-like Troll Cooper (voiced by Ron Funches) goes in search of other Trolls who look like him.

It’s not hard to guess where this is all going. There are other films that celebrate our differences, but TROLLS WORLD TOUR is arguably one of the most colorful in that canon. There are sections where the Trolls are under the influence of one kind of magic or another; the acid-trip visuals may make grown-up viewers think that perhaps we’re under of influence of something as well.

TROLLS WORLD TOUR is lighter than its predecessor. No one is in danger of death, just a radical change in musical tastes. The characters are all more or less good-hearted even when they’re wrong-headed, and the story serves the theme, rather than just paying lip service.

How much fun adults will derive from TROLLS WORLD TOUR depends a little on whether one is amused by Trolls singing pop, rock, country, and funk. It depends even more on how much one enjoys eye-popping hues and consistently clever production design, suggesting prairies made of blankets and clearings made of cookies. It’s all extremely agreeable, and director Walter Dohrn keeps everything moving briskly.

TROLLS WORLD TOUR isn’t a heart-song classic like, say, INSIDE OUT. However, it’s zippy, appealing to look at, and good home-front value for households with multiple young ones.

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