Trolls Voices of Anna Kendrick, Justin Timberlake, Zooey Deschanel. Directed by Mike Mitchell. Rated PG. Opens Friday citywide.
Although its existence is a blatant marketing ploy for the cute dolls that have been popular since the early 1960s, DreamWorks’ animated Trolls at least makes an effort to justify itself as a movie, with marginal success. Not nearly as clever or self-aware as similarly marketing-motivated (yet hilarious) animated feature The Lego Movie, Trolls still manages to avoid being crass, showcasing some cute characters and amusing situations in the process. It’s also mostly forgettable and sloppily plotted, with an abrupt ending that seems to just give up on telling the rest of the story. For kids entertained by bright colors and catchy music, it will be a great time-passer, although adults could end up with a slight headache.
Anna Kendrick voices Princess Poppy, the leader of the colorful, tall-haired, relentlessly upbeat title characters, who love singing, dancing and hugging, but are hunted by the mean, ogre-ish giants known as Bergens (think of them as Gargamel to the Smurf-like trolls). When the Bergens kidnap most of the trolls, Poppy joins up with grumpy (but pragmatic) troll Branch (Justin Timberlake) to rescue her friends. What follows is a sweet but underwhelming adventure, punctuated by overly slick renditions of pop songs (and a few original numbers). The candy-colored visual style is sometimes endearing and sometimes nauseating, and it might eventually leave viewers in a sugar coma.