Trolls Band Together
2023, PG, 91 min. Directed by Walt Dohrn. Voices by Anna Kendrick, Justin Timberlake, Troye Sivan, Eric André, Amy Schumer, Andrew Rannells, Daveed Diggs.
REVIEWED By Alejandra Martinez, Fri., Nov. 17, 2023
Trolls Band Together, the latest return to the Trolls cinematic universe, feels like a dance party. The jukebox musical films, known for their colorful and tactile animation and high-energy musical numbers, deliver again and even offer some cool animated surprises along the way. There are also plenty of endearing lessons to be learned throughout this mostly sweet, fun film that will keep children and adults engaged and maybe even humming along with their Troll friends.
Our latest journey with the Trolls starts with a flashback. Branch (Timberlake) remembers his early boy band days well. With his four brothers he was part of BroZone: Once the most popular band around, after a disastrous concert the boys went their separate ways. This left Branch alone with his grandma, so it’s no surprise that he's conflicted when his oldest brother, John Dory (André), reappears after years and asks him to find the rest of their brothers so they can sing the perfect family harmony and free brother Floyd (Sivan) from the captivity of two pop-star wannabes (Rannells and Schumer) who have been literally sucking away his talent.
You can expect some solid laughs from the movie, which does a good job of balancing out humor so kids and adults will be able to get most of the jokes. There is one much-hyped appearance toward the end of the film of a certain boy band in Troll form that struck me as one of the only things that takes away from the movie. It’s one thing to make small jokes about perms and bleached hair or other hallmarks of Timberlake’s boy band days, but another to have your audience be taken out of a film entirely so there can be a full-on cameo that only half of the audience will understand.
Overall, though, Trolls Band Together is fun and looks great. One of the movie’s biggest and best pleasures is its lush and sometimes psychedelic animation. The Trolls and their world are so tactile and detailed, with fuzzy plush felt and clever creative substitutes, such as an ocean made up of millions of squishy water beads. It’s also not afraid to take chances. During one scene where the team goes into “hustle mode” in John Dory’s bug bus, the movie switches briefly into vibrant 2D animation that gets experimental.
What resonates most about Trolls Band Together are its lessons about self-acceptance and letting go of perfectionism. It’s a great message for young kids to internalize, and perhaps a good reminder for adults in the audience, too. What good is doing something you love if you’re bogged down in worrying about doing it “right”? This movie reminds us that sometimes it’s okay to come as you are and live in the moment, flaws and all.