This animated sequel is more of the same, but now cranked up to eleven, making for a rather noisy return to the world of Trolls.
What do you get when you combine a jukebox musical with a beloved toy franchise, then add sparkly visuals that have a similar sensory effect to getting your head jammed in a candy floss machine? Well, we got Trolls (2016), an animated musical from DreamWorks that charmed some kids, aggravated a few parents, but in the end was a wholly average, totally harmless and, at times, quite fun affair. Now, here’s another question: what happens when you take the best elements of Trolls and, to quote This is Spinal Tap, crank it up to eleven, whilst repeating the same generic story as before? Unfortunately, you don’t get a board of film executives showing you the way out. Instead, what has arrived is the inevitable sequel, Trolls World Tour, which is essentially the same film but completely exaggerated to the point that it is exhausting.
It begins as most sequels do with an expansion of the setting and characters. As it turns out, the pop-obsessed Trolls that we followed in the first film, ruled by Princess-turned-Queen Poppy (Anna Kendrick), are not alone in the Troll Kingdom. They soon discover that there are all different kinds of Trolls scattered around, each with their own specific taste in music (Funk, Classical, Techno, etc.). However, the evil Queen Barb (Rachel Bloom), of the Hard Rock Trolls, plans to destroy all other forms of music so that Rock can rule supreme across the entire world – because, as we all know, ‘Rock is evil’. It is up to Poppy and her best friend Branch (Justin Timberlake) to unify the remaining Trolls and stop Barb’s world tour of destruction.
By introducing various types of musical Troll, the story allows the film to parade a host of star voice cameos from across the industry, including Anderson Paak, George Clinton, and Mary J. Blige. If they had a top-selling single in the US this past century, then they’re probably in Trolls World Tour. The film even makes time for a bizarre performance from the one and only Ozzy Osbourne, featuring as Barb’s father King Thrash, that only appears to be there because of his name recognition – Ozzy barely has any dialogue.
As with the first Trolls movie, the animation is painfully bright. The visuals project endless rays of positivity that will no doubt leave younger kids goggling at the screen while the older ones are slightly frazzled by the experience. Despite that, the World Tour soundtrack does provide a number of tasteful tunes, such as a strange-but-enjoyable mash-up of Cyndi Lauper’s ‘Girls Just Want to Have Fun’ with Chic’s ‘Good Times’. None of the new songs have the same ear-worm effect as the original’s ‘Can’t Stop the Feeling!‘, though.
What Trolls World Tour amounts to is awfully perfunctory. Most of the jokes are born from unfunny memes, and some of the musical stereotypes are ridiculously outdated. It’s frustrating to see Rock music still being represented as the typical crowd at Download Festival. The plot lazily rehashes the first film’s to such an extent that the final 10 minutes are eerily identical to Trolls‘ ending. This sequel feels very much behind the curve, with the most notable thing about it probably being its digital release. The new DreamWorks is utterly benign and will pass the time perfectly fine for some younger viewers, but the jukebox has been overworked. As World Tour gradually descends into an insane cacophony of noise, reminiscent of an off-key school choir singing a Take That medley, most will struggle to keep interest.
Trolls World Tour, directed by Walt Dohrn, is distributed in the UK by Universal, certificate U. It is available to rent via Amazon, iTunes and other VOD platforms.