TROLLS BAND TOGETHER

★★★

POPPY AND BRANCH BACK FOR A THIRD TRIP

THEATRICAL REVIEW
By Chris Dos Santos
26th November 2023

After first bursting onto our screens in 2016, DreamWorks' 'Trolls' has more than proved its staying power. The last time we saw Poppy, Branch and the gang, things where a little different in the world and the second film, 'Trolls World Tour' became one of the first films to have a premium VOD release in the U.S. while also screening in Drive-In cinemas across the United States. While no VOD figures are reported, it was estimated that 'World Tour' was the second biggest PVOD release of the pandemic behind 'Mulan'. In Australia the film received a normal release for the September school holidays as our cinemas where open, gaining an impressive $10 million at the box office during restricted trade. Now, cinemas out of pandemic restrictions are welcoming the Trolls back with 'Trolls Band Together'.

BroZone, the hottest boy band in the Trolls kingdom, is a group of brothers - John Dory (Eric André, 'Sing 2', 'The Lion King'), Spruce (Daveed Diggs, 'The Little Mermaid', 'DC League of Super-Pets'), Clay (Kid Cudi, 'X', 'Don't Look Up'), Floyd (Troye Sivan, 'Spud', 'Boy Erased') and baby Branch - and disband, leaving Branch (Justin Timberlake, 'Wonder Wheel', 'Palmer') to be raised by his grandmother. Years later the brothers haven't reunited - until out of the blue, John Dory reaches out to Branch as Floyd has been kidnapped by Velvet (Amy Schumer, 'Trainwreck', 'Bros') and Venner (Andrew Rannells, 'The Prom', 'A Simple Favour'), evil pop singers who have to steal trolls' power to sing. Now the race is on to find all the members to save their brother. Poppy (Anna Kendrick, 'Pitch Perfect' franchise, 'Twilight' saga) and Tiny Diamond (Kenan Thompson, 'Clifford the Big Red Dog', 'Wonder Park') join in the mission as they race against the clock. Meanwhile, Poppy is also coming to terms with the fact that she doesn't have a sister - but will she find any lost family members on their journey?

SWITCH: 'TROLLS BAND TOGETHER' TRAILER 2

While still very enjoyable, this 'Trolls' venture compared to the previous two entries seems the most rushed and flies by. All the new characters are very quickly introduced and then just moved into the background. It's also the most adult; while most kids' films have some more mature humour, this one really laid it on thick. One line that really threw me was the Bergens saying, "I didn't think we'd both find ourselves tied up on this honeymoon."

The 'Trolls' movies always push a big single but this one is huge... the reunion of NSYNC! Oddly, Branch's brothers are not voiced by them, which seems like a real missed opportunity and outside of the lead single the band does not appear until the credits as boy band Kismet. It's a fun bit of nostalgia to get NSYNC back together but since they did, I wish they went further with it.

On the note of characters, not only does Branch have long-lost brothers but Poppy has a long-lost sister, Viva (Camila Cabello, 'Cinderella'). The film is very aware of the strangeness of two characters with long-lost relatives, with a lot of jokes about it. Compared to BroZone she has extremely little to do and is very much here to add another girl toy to the 'Trolls' toy aisle.

The voice cast is doing an incredible job, and the shining star is again Anna Kendrick. She was born to play Poppy and devours every line.

The voice cast is doing an incredible job, and the shining star is again Anna Kendrick. She was born to play Poppy and devours every line. With the new villains, Amy Schumer is very forgettable especially because she's one of the only cast members not also doing the singing but her brother voiced by Andrew Rannells is so campy and delightful, it's perfect casting for a 'Trolls' villain.

Because of the boy band plot a lot of characters are left to silent cameos, so the only Troll outside of Poppy and Branch to go on the adventure this time around is Tiny Diamond. This is what also makes the film weaker - the characters of the Trolls world are really fun and unique and now we spend most of the time with four new Trolls who are just redesigns of Branch. The villains however are designed to be spaghetti doll-like and they are a lot of fun. Their land, Mount Rageon, is oozing with fun designs. DreamWorks has also done a fantastic job with the animation in the 'Trolls' franchise, and outside of BroZone this is no exception. The water being orbeez-like was a nice touch.

Most importantly the music, what I love most about these films! As mentioned, NSYNC and their song 'Better Place' is the big single and a great song, and used really well in the content of the film. The rest of the soundtrack is what you would expect from 'Trolls' three films in, and I was eating it up. But the villains' finale number, titled 'Mount Rageous', is one of the best moments of the franchise. It's this high-speed chase sequence ending on a boat while they are singing 'Fame'. It's truly one of the best animated musical moments in recent memory.

While 'Trolls Band Together' does not reach the heights of 'Trolls World Tour' (did I write that review during mid-pandemic while I was highly emotional? Maybe, but it's still a great kids' film). 'Band Together' has more of a focus on the music and comedy than an overall message, but still offers another vibrant holiday adventure loaded with fun moments and great music.

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