TROLLS BAND TOGETHER movie poster | ©2023 Universal Pictures/DreamWorks

TROLLS BAND TOGETHER movie poster | ©2023 Universal Pictures/DreamWorks

Rating: PG
Stars (voices): Anna Kendrick, Justin Timberlake, Kenan Thompson, Zooey Deschanel, Andrew Rannells, Amy Schumer, Daveed Diggs, Christopher Mintz-Plasse, Zosia Mamet, Eric André, Camila Cabello, Kid Cudi, Troye Sivan
Writer: Elizabeth Tippet, based on the Good Luck Trolls created by Thomas Dam
Director: Walt Dohrn, co-director, Tim Heitz
Distributor: Universal Pictures
Release Date: November 17, 2023

TROLLS BAND TOGETHER is the third installment in the brightly-colored, trippy animated TROLLS franchise. Trolls come in all hues, and a few sizes, though most appear to be about the size of a human hand, not counting their voluminous hair. Most trolls also love to sing and dance.

The new movie is accessible to adults, but it aimed at children. It deals with typical topics for the age group: wishing for a sister, wanting older siblings to take you seriously, and soul-sucking giants. Okay, maybe that last one is a little less typical than the first two.

For those assessing what their youngsters can take peril-wise, TROLLS BAND TOGETHER lands somewhere between the sort of scary 2016 original (which had Trolls fleeing the ogre-like Bergens, who wanted to eat them) and 2020’s TROLLS WORLD TOUR (which had our Trolls’ brand of pop rock in danger of being usurped by hard rock).

In TROLLS BAND TOGETHER, Troll Princess Poppy (voiced as before by Anna Kendrick finds out that her best friend/boyfriend Branch (voiced by likewise-returning Justin Timberlake) used to be part of the (Troll) boy band BroZone. It’s one of Poppy’s favorite groups, and consisted of Branch and his four older brothers.

Alas, the band broke up when Branch was still young, and the brothers haven’t seen each other since. But now brother Floyd (voiced by Troye Sivan) is kidnapped by evil non-Troll pop stars Velvet (voiced by Amy Schumer) and Veneer (voiced by Andrew Rannells). The sibling duo, who are done in the style of Max Fleischer cartoons, are siphoning off Floyd’s talent and life force to fuel their performances. With Poppy in tow, it’s time for Branch and his other brothers to reunite and mount a rescue.

The energy-stealing is depicted by Floyd losing color and becoming sleepy, so nothing gruesome there. There are metaphors galore for kids to play with, and tons of eye-catching details. The 3D animation is so specific that we can see individual threads floating off of Poppy’s yarn ponytail holder.

There are lots of songs, new and old. Kendrick, veteran of the PITCH PERFECT franchise, and Timberlake, whose real-world background with the pop boy band NSYNCH is playfully referenced throughout, both have the vocal chops for what’s asked of them. There are also plenty of other musical artists as various characters, including musical theatre vet Rannells and pop star/actor Camila Cabello. Everything is calculated to be catchy, and all of the performers are on target, selling songs and jokes with equal verve.

Apart from the intricacy of some of the animation, there’s nothing exceptional about TROLLS BAND TOGETHER. But it is exactly what it is designed to be – amiable, tuneful, brisk and upbeat. Its ambitions are modest, but it fulfills them entirely.

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