Can we trust the stories we’ve been told in our youth? Or is history tainted by our own perspectives and blinders towards others?
Somewhat surprisingly, this deeply philosophical question lies at the heart of the sugary sweet sequel, Trolls: World Tour, out on Blu-ray this Tuesday. Though packaged in bright pink and glitter, the sequel to 2016’s mega-hit Trolls actually has some soul underneath the surface for those who are willing to take the time to listen.
Back for the encore, new Queen Poppy (Anna Kendrick) and her potential paramour, Branch (Justin Timberlake) are shocked to discover that their tribe of pop-infested trolls are merely one of six different groups scattered over the lands. Each tribe devotes their time to celebrating a different musical style – funk, country, techno, classical, pop and rock – and have lived isolated from one another for years. When Queen Barb (Rachel Bloom) of the rock trolls attempt to destroy the other musical styles, Poppy and Branch set out on a mission to unite the trolls and save the diverse melodies from extinction.
Featuring tonnes of pop remixes and bursts of colour, Trolls: World Tour is a neon rainbow of musical cotton candy that charms kids (and can be bizarre to adults at times). Stars Kendrick and Timberlake continue to bring energy and fun to the film’s lead couple, Poppy and Branch, as they attempt to navigate more mature issues such as leadership and romance. What’s more, by introducing multiple new characters into the franchise, the larger world building does add a sense of scope to the melodic mythical creatures. In doing so, Trolls: World Tour feels like a progression in the right direction for the franchise as it opens the door for differences of musical style (and opinions).
A bit of a word of warning for the uninitiated, though. As a parent who has frequently rewatched the first movie (and the holiday special, and the television series), I feel I can say this from experience.
Make no mistake. This franchise is weird.
Any film that features a naked troll giving birth to his child from a burst of glitter out of his behind justifies such comments, I feel.
Even so, underneath all the pop hits and rainbows, there’s something timely about the latest entry into the Trolls franchise. At a time when social protests against systemic racism has become a daily occurrence, World Tour speaks to the idea that our current culture is based upon the dominance of one worldview over many. By delving into the history of their world, Poppy and Branch discover that their way of life has actually negated the importance of other forms of music in the process. Without giving away any spoilers, what they learn not only reshapes the way that they understand their role in the world but it also causes them to appreciate and elevate the value of others. While current social conversations were not taking place in the same way when World Tour was being written, themes like this do add a certain sense of relevance to the film.
Now available on Blu-ray, the purchase offers a few fun features such as the necessary ‘dance party mode’, where your kids (and you, if you like) can sing along with Poppy and crew, Trolls Dance Academy (which teaches you how to dance to various styles of music) and the all-new animated short, Tiny Diamond Goes Back to School. There’s even a feature commentary with director Walt Dohrn, producer Gina Shay and co-director David P. Smith for those who would really like to get behind the music with the film.
So, for all its bizarre antics and rainbow aesthetic, Trolls: World Tour proves to be a likeable and fun entry into a franchise that, given its profitability, has not likely seen its end. However, if the franchise can continue to say something meaningful to my children in the process, I’m more than happy to continue to sing along.
Trolls: World Tour sings its way onto Blu-ray on July 7th,, 2020.