Genre: CG Animation
Director: Walt Dohrn, Tim Heitz
Cast: Anna Kendrick, Justin Timberlake, Kunal Nayyar, Kenan Thompson, Zooey Deschanel, Christopher Mintz-Plasse, Camila Cabello, Eric André, Amy Schumer, Andrew Rannells, Troye Sivan, Daveed Diggs, Kid Cudi, Zosia Mamet, RuPaul Charles
Runtime: 1 hr 31 mins
Released By: UIP
Opening Day: 2 November 2023
Synopsis: This holiday season, get ready for an action-packed, all-star, rainbow-colored family reunion like no other as ANNA KENDRICK and JUSTIN TIMBERLAKE return for the new chapter in DreamWorks Animation’s blockbuster musical franchise: Trolls Band Together. After two films of true friendship and relentless flirting, Poppy (Kendrick) and Branch (Timberlake) are now officially, finally, a couple (#broppy)! As they grow closer, Poppy discovers that Branch has a secret past. He was once part of her favorite boyband phenomenon, BroZone, with his four brothers: Floyd (Golden Globe nominated electropop sensation TROYE SIVAN), John Dory (ERIC ANDRÉ), Bruce (Grammy winner DAVEED DIGGS) and Clay (Grammy winner KID CUDI). BroZone disbanded when Branch was still a baby (aka, “Bitty B”), as did the family, and Branch hasn’t seen his brothers since. But when Branch’s bro Floyd is kidnapped for his musical talents by a pair of nefarious pop-star villains—Velvet (Emmy winner AMY SCHUMER) and Veneer (Grammy winner and Tony nominee ANDREW RANNELLS)—Branch and Poppy embark on a harrowing and emotional journey to reunite the other brothers and rescue Floyd from a fate even worse than pop-culture obscurity.
Naysayers be damned – ‘Trolls’ and ‘Trolls World Tour’ were unapologetically infectious, feel-good fun, even if they weren’t much else. As the film to round off a trilogy, ‘Trolls Band Together’ sticks exactly to its predecessors’ winning formula, and if that is disappointing to some, then so be it, because the rest of us are loving it just the way we like it.
Obviously riffing on lead voice actor Justin Timberlake’s boyband beginnings, ‘Trolls Band Together’ opens with a prologue establishing a young Branch as the diaper-clad Baby B in a band called BroZone with older brothers Floyd (Troye Sivan), Spruce (Daveed Diggs), Clay (Kid Cudi) and John Dory (Eric André). After a disastrous live performance, the quintet broke up acrimoniously, and did not speak to one another for the next 10 years.
Though clearly missing his BroZone days, Branch is otherwise happily living out his life with his girlfriend Queen Poppy (Anna Kendrick), as well as preparing to celebrate the wedding of King Gristle (Christopher Mintz-Plasse) and former scullery maid Bridget (Zooey Deschanel). That harmony is interrupted by the unexpected arrival of John on the day of the wedding, who tells Branch that he is rounding up the band to save Floyd from a pair of wannabe popstar siblings, Velvet (Amy Schumer) and Veneer (Andrew Rannells).
Notwithstanding the initial hand-wringing, it is no surprise that Branch and Poppy will hop on John’s bandwagon to go on a mission to rescue Floyd. It is also no surprise that Branch will take the opportunity to make up with the rest of his brothers, their road trip taking them from an island resort to a creepy amusement park to the city of Mount Rageous where Velvet and Veneer are holding Floyd in a diamond prison. And oh, it should also come as no surprise that the secret to freeing Floyd is for the brothers to find the “perfect family harmony”, which they will do with the new ‘NSync title track ‘Better Place’.
As predictable as it gets, like the saying goes, it ain’t the destination but the journey that matters; and in that regard, the journey is still plenty of fun. On her second outing with the franchise after ‘Trolls World Tour’, screenwriter Elizabeth Tippet stuffs the dialogue with one-liners and aphorisms – case in point, after BroZone flops their live performance, Floyd tells Branch “We’re out of sync. We’ve gone from boys to men, and now there’s only one direction for us to go: the backstreets.” Likewise, director Walt Dohrn, who’s been with the franchise from the start, is all too happy for the movie to go all trippy, what with ‘70s-style hand-drawn animated sequences thrown in for good measure.
And on their third time round, Timberlake and Kendrick have more than found the perfect harmony with each other, not just riffing and bantering with each other, but also with the all-star cast of supporting characters, including and especially Kenan Thompson as the quick-quipping Tiny Diamond. Timberlake also appears more than ever vested in the series, ready to go all tongue-in-cheek with it as a boyband parody, even on his early-2000s musical and hair stylings (remember the permed hairdo?). It is all good fun, and all the more irresistible given how committed Timberlake is to it.
Though fans will probably notice how it has relatively less storytelling depth compared to the earlier two movies, ‘Trolls Band Together’ still possesses enough smarts to offer self-deprecating laughs. As always, the animation by the Dreamworks team is gorgeously textured, so it is never for a moment less than visually dazzling. Coupled with endless pop medleys and regularly timed glitter explosions, this is still the unapologetic infectious, feel-good fun ride the Trolls musical franchise is known for. That’s good enough for us like we said, naysayers be damned.
(Just as unapologetically infectious, feel-good fun as its predecessors, 'Trolls Band Together' isn't afraid to troll its lead actor Justin Timberlake's boyband past, and is all the more hilarious because of it)
Review by Gabriel Chong