Animated movies often spawn from toy lines, but few films felt less inspired than Trolls (2016). The first film in the franchise borrowed heavily from the Smurfs, Cinderella, and Cyrano de Bergerac – especially in the second half – and just felt like a feeble attempt to remind people of the mediocre toys. Somehow, Trolls World Tour (2020) managed to actually build a world for the Trolls and embraces the musical elements in a way that really worked. If this had been the first film, more people would have been pumped for the sequel – but this is definitely a fun family movie that makes the toys seem more important.
Poppy (Anna Kendrick), the new queen of the pop trolls, and Branch (Justin Timberlake) learn about the various music genre-inspired troll tribes as a result of the Barb (Rachel Bloom), the queen of the rock trolls, in a hunt to reunite all the trolls under one music. Initially, Poppy sets out to meet Barb and help unify the trolls…but soon learns that it’s the differences that make everyone special.
The music – especially the great variety and the play on popular genres – is absolutely one of the strongest elements of the film. George Clinton as King Quincy and Mary J. Blige as Queen Essence of the Funk trolls have to be one of the best sequences in this movie. While Clinton was obvious in his casting – their son, Prince D (Anderson .Paak), who represents the evolution of music, really adds to the sequence. There are a number of other musicians and performances that are enjoyable, but this one for Funk stood out.
Of course, music with bland characters wouldn’t work either. Poppy and Branch are both likable and were the best part of the first film. However, they only become more complex, as does their relationship. They make tons of new friends on the journey they find themselves on as the world of the trolls grows. The new characters and the returning ones are all well-acted, but Hickory (Sam Rockwell) is the best new addition. In large part, Rockwell adds something to every film he appears in – but the animators capture his body language and facial expressions quite well. You’re actually almost able to see Rockwell on-screen, which adds to his character.
There is a good chance you planned to write this film off, but Trolls World Tour is really enjoyable, and it works. If you have a night that you and your family want something easy to watch that will get the little ones up and moving, then this is a safe bet. The song selection, the performances, and even the animation work quite well. Trolls World Tour earns the Not Quite Golden, Ponyboy rating.