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Almost four years ago, Dreamworks’ Trolls was unleashed upon the world in all of its glitter farting glory, and the world was never the same. A universe where the kingdom of Trolls made themselves stronger, bonded with their enemies and even converted one of their own into a singing and dancing citizen, all through the power of music, that film was uncomfortably happy and deeply unfulfilling.

So naturally when Trolls World Tour was announced, it was feared that another outing of the same caliber was in the works. Thankfully, I can say that the sequel to 2016’s kids musical extravaganza isn’t on the same level of weaponized pain as that first movie was. Up to a point, it’s actually a better movie. Sadly, it’s not enough of an effort to redeem this franchise as one worth following any further.

With Queen Poppy (Anna Kendrick) and Branch (Justin Timberlake) now helping to keep their kingdom of Pop Trolls happy and healthy, a new threat has reared its head. As the revelation that the world of musical trolls is bigger and more diverse than expected, Queen Barb of the Rock Trolls (Rachel Bloom) is mounting a world tour that’ll leave every troll singing from the same diabolical song sheet.

In a quest to prevent the six magical strings of music from being stolen by Queen Barb’s forces, Poppy, Branch and some of their troll friends will embark on a journey to preserve music of all types. Along the way, friendships will be tested, history will be revealed and there will be glitter. Lots and lots of glitter.

Trolls: World Tour surprisingly improves on its predecessor, but not enough for a standing ovation.

With Trolls World Tour, it feels like there’s a better attempt at telling an actual story, rather than just packing this sequel with all of the sunshine, happiness and slight humor that modern children’s entertainment tends to entail. There’s still plenty of Trolls’ signature humor to spare, and the characters from the first story haven’t changed in monumental fashions. Rather, the story on display is of a different quality than the previous film.

Part of that increased effort comes with the inclusion of Queen Barb, the Rock Troll who acts as the film’s primary antagonist and is ultimately the foil to Queen Poppy. Rachel Bloom’s would-be villain has more depth drawn to her personality and motivations than past evils in the franchise, and her full-on rocker persona helps inject some much needed excitement into Trolls World Tour.

But even with highlights such as Queen Barb’s rendition of Heart’s “Barracuda” present, this is a sequel that still fails to learn a very important lesson Trolls also failed to comprehend. Sometimes, in your world of glittery visuals and seemingly felt-crafted characters, less is definitely more.

The story of Trolls: World Tour acts as a hollow vehicle for scattershot musical numbers and jokes.

As the world of Trolls World Tour has branched out into a more expansive universe of musical genres, there’s a lot more material for director Walt Dorhn’s follow-up to work with. That’s both a blessing and a curse when it comes to what this sequel sets out to do, as there’s definitely a higher level of ambition at work, but not enough actual storyline to help it pan out.

With so many new characters to work with, new styles of music to incorporate and plenty of opportunities for the protagonists returning in Trolls World Tour to evolve through new storylines, opportunities were abundant. But history repeats itself from the beginning, as there are too many songs packed into several of the film’s musical sequences, and everything seems to come to a screeching halt when the plot feels it needs to tell a joke or two.

Even with an all-star cast of acting and singing talent that includes Sam Rockwell, Kelly Clarkson, Mary J. Blige and George Clinton, no one really gets more than a couple bars and maybe a line or two to really shine in Trolls World Tour. For a movie that promises a non-stop trail of excitement and music, the pacing feels like that of an out-of-control conveyor belt rather than a planned-out road trip.

While not offensive, Trolls: World Tour is still a total mess of a film.

Trolls World Tour is definitely an experience that tops the sheer headache-inducing cheer and song belting that was Trolls. There’s a true intent to make a film with a story, and in the simplest sense, there’s an A to Z plotline folks can follow when taking it all in. But even with the best foot forward, this is a movie that still comes off as an absolute mess.

That being said, at least the film isn’t merely repeating every mistake it’s made in the past. It just so happens that the largest, most crucial mistakes are the ones repeated, leading to a total package that will barely register in your memory come Monday. Though should you be convinced to rent Trolls World Tour for your children this weekend, take comfort in the fact that it will, at the very least, replace Frozen II in your streaming rotation for the 48 hours you have it available.

It’s fitting that Trolls World Tour comes out on Easter weekend, as it’s about as fulfilling as a hollow chocolate rabbit, surrounded by neon-colored Peeps and fake basket grass. The only difference being that chocolate can still be tasty and it won’t cost nearly as much as a VOD rental of Trolls World Tour. Someone please pinkie promise this will be the last Trolls movie.

4 / 10 stars
Rating: movie reviewed star rating out of five
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