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In an era where toy brand nostalgia passes for a viable film franchise IP, Trolls is what happens when you get towards the bottom of the barrel. A product that didn't really have that much of a story behind it, the film it has now spawned matches its source in thematic content. Trolls is a movie made to sell an album, which is full of songs made to sell this movie. This is the movie Justin Timberlake has been selling you and your kids all summer with his hit single, and in my personal opinion, it's just as annoying.
The Bergens celebrate "Trollstice" once a year, as it's the only day they harvest the trolls from their troll tree and feast upon their unlimited happiness. Except one year, the trolls weren't having it, as their king led them in a daring escape from the kingdom of Bergen Town and into the woods where they can be free. For 20 years, this worked, and the trolls were allowed to sing and dance to their heart's content... until one huge party thrown by Princess Poppy (Anna Kendrick) gave away their position, setting off a chain of events that forced her to rely on the resident grump (Timberlake) in order to save the day.
As voluminous as the story to Trolls may sound in the blurb above, the actual film is far from being that cohesive. All of that story is stretched thin, thrown together with the typical "kids' movie" jokes that come from the cheaper, more moronic side of the spectrum, and with yet another subplot involving the romancing of the king Bergen by a skullery maid. If we're speaking in terms of volume, Trolls has a lot of material stuffed into its short running time. There's even a half baked subplot involving a proposed royal coup, showing that more isn't always better. None of these stories get enough time to breathe on its own, or pan out into any sort of life lesson. Rather, the film is so focused on jumping from song to song on its garish playlist that it doesn't focus on anything else for too long.
Even worse, the film perpetuates one of the most worrisome messages that completely contradicts that of an infinitely more mature film, Disney / Pixar's Inside Out. While that film taught children that it was ok to live with a full range of emotions, Trolls tries to teach kids that your happy place is the place to be. If you're not in your happy place, that's ok... just sing and dance as loud as you can, and project that happy spirit you know you should be showing. This is a movie that severely buys into the happiness complex that sets people up for even more disappointment in life, and Princess Poppy's annoyingly cheerful disposition isn't what we should be teaching our children to be like.
If Trolls were simply a bad children's film, with an insipid story line, annoying pop music soundtrack, and totally unfunny jokes, I'd probably just write it off as a mindless, soulless product of the studio system. But with the film going out of its way to be offensively annoying, all in the name of selling a dangerously short-sighted life philosophy and an abysmal collection of pop hits, that makes Trolls quite possibly one of the most dangerously bad films on the market this year. Also, it totally ruins the Norwegian orchestral piece "In The Hall Of The Mountain King," and there are some sins that just can't be forgiven.