Genre: CG Animation
Director: Walt Dohrn
Cast: Anna Kendrick, Justin Timberlake, J Balvin, Rachel Bloom, Flula Borg, Kelly Clarkson, James Corden, Ester Dean, Jamie Dornan, Gustavo Dudamel, Ron Funches, Caroline Hjelt, Aino Jawo, Kunal Nayyar, Ozzy Osbourne, Anderson .Paak, Anthony Ramos, Sam Rockwell, Betsy Sodaro, Karan Soni, Kenan Thompson, Charlyne Yi, George Clinton, Mary J. Blige
Runtime: 1 hr 31 mins
Released By: UIP
Opening Day: 12 March 2020
Synopsis: Anna Kendrick and Justin Timberlake return in an all-star sequel to DreamWorks Animation’s 2016 musical hit: Trolls World Tour. In an adventure that will take them well beyond what they’ve known before, Poppy (Kendrick) and Branch (Timberlake) discover that they are but one of six different Troll tribes scattered over six different lands and devoted to six different kinds of music: Funk, Country, Techno, Classical, Pop and Rock. Their world is about to get a lot bigger and a whole lot louder.
Whereas there was just pop before, there are now six different tribes of trolls in this expanded – and we dare say, even funnier – sequel.
The Techno trolls get the first introduction, as their rave party under the sea is interrupted by the onslaught of Queen Barb (voiced by Rachel Bloom) and her army of Hard Rock trolls. By the end of that sequence, King Trollex (Anthony Ramos) would have lost his tribe’s musical string – think of it as the very soul of the tribe, without which the tribe would have lost its tune.
Queen Barb’s ambition is to unify the trolls under Rock, or in other words, to destroy all other types of music except Rock. While at first utterly naïve to the grave threat her kingdom faces, Queen Poppy (Anna Kendrick) realises what she is confronting when she pays a visit to the Classical kingdom and finds it devastated. Oh yes, once again, Branch’s (Justin Timberlake) over-caution proves right, though this time he and Poppy are no longer at loggerheads with each other.
Their quest to warn the rest of the other Troll kingdoms will lead to a run-in with the Country Trolls, led by the stern Delta Dawn (Kelly Clarkson), an attempted kidnapping by a Smooth Jazz troll named Chaz (Jamie Dornan), and a more elaborate ruse engineered by the Yodelling trolls. At the same time, Princess D’s (Anderson Paak) personal expedition to find his own kind will reunite him with the Funk trolls, especially his parents King Quincy (George Clinton) and Queen Essence (Mary J. Blige).
It’s a lot of different kinds of trolls in one movie, and credit goes to director Walt Dohrn and his returning screenwriters Jonathan Aibel and Glenn Berger for conjuring such an expansive universe based on a line of dolls. The animation is just as, if not even more, gorgeous, with immaculate attention paid to their appearance and dressing of each of the various tribes in order to distinguish one from the other. Oh yes, it is to the credit of the animators that you can tell at one glance just which musical tribe each troll belongs to, especially at the end when the entire species is gathered for Queen Barb’s concert event.
Complementing the visual design is the soundtrack, which like the previous movie, is meticulously curated to be an integral part of the storytelling. Timberlake returns as executive music producer with Ludwig Göransson, and the duo have outdone themselves with an extensively eclectic mix of tunes from across the genre spectrum. Besides each of the aforementioned forms (such as pop, country, techno, funk, classical and rock) corresponding to the six tribes, there is also K-pop, reggae and hip-hop, and it is testament to the strength of the storytelling that none of these additions feel superfluous.
In fact, the presence of so many types of music is used to make an empathic statement on the beauty of diversity, given how culture and music are both often intimately intertwined. It’s not hard to guess that Poppy will come to defend the right of each tribe in Troll Kingdom to exist despite their differences, in contrast to Queen Barb’s vision of harmonisation, but the message of integration over assimilation is beautifully portrayed and poignantly conveyed.
That there are so many other supporting characters inevitably means there is less time on the whole for Poppy and Branch, but our leading couple are still sweet and delightful company thanks to the infectious chemistry between Kendrick and Timberlake. Their banter is utterly hilarious, contrasting Poppy’s sunny optimism with Branch’s controlled exasperation once again, and peppered with Branch’s witty quips (‘oh your map is definitely outdated; it still has Disco on it!’).
Among the other scene-stealing trolls, you’ll be tickled silly too by Biggie and Mr Dinkles, the latter displaying a lot more vocal abilities than just ‘mew’ (for those who remember the first movie), especially when put on the spot to prove their Hard Rock talents while trying to sneak into their kingdom. There’s also Hickory (Sam Rockwell), a Country troll who proves unexpectedly resourceful and who possesses a surprising immunity to Chaz’s Smooth Jazz charms. And last but not least, the father-son pair of Guy and Tiny Diamond (Kunal Nayyar and Kenan Thompson) has a couple of laugh-out-loud interludes, what with Tina demonstrating his hip-hop flair from birth.
Quite frankly, we never expected to enjoy ‘Trolls World Tour’ as much as we did, but the combination of dry humour, toe-tapping music and dazzling visuals make for a truly crowd-pleasing reunion with the trolls. There is even a topical reminder for embracing than diminishing diversity, which is particularly timely in these xenophobic times. It is also a perfect panacea for the whole family in this climate of anxiety and gloom, sure to put a smile on your face and leave you in a happy place.
(Witty, wacky and winsome, this sequel expands the world of the Trolls in delightfully eclectic ways, and is sure to leave you in a happy place)
Review by Gabriel Chong