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The parents' guide to what's in this movie.
What parents need to know
Parents need to know that Trolls is a cute, colorful adventure inspired by the tall-haired troll dolls that first became popular in the 1960s. It centers on peppy troll Princess Poppy (voiced by Anna Kendrick), who teams up with grumpy pessimist Branch (Justin Timberlake) to rescue her friends from the troll-hungry Bergens. Along the way everyone learns lessons about inner happiness, never giving up, and being proud of who you are. Everything has a fuzzy, felted look to it, which softens some of the danger and peril. But little kids are still likely to be scared by the greedy, hungry Bergens. And they may well hide their eyes when Poppy and her friends flee from danger and have several narrow escapes. There's also a sad moment when Branch remembers losing someone he loved. Two of the Bergens flirt, striking some "sexy" poses and exchanging a couple of mild innuendoes. Bodily function humor includes the projectile-glitter farts of Poppy's sparkly friend, Guy Diamond, whose glittery buttocks are also visible. Expect a few uses of "OMG"/"oh my gah" (the ending of the word is left undefined) and "stupid"/other insults. But in the end, what you'll remember are the great songs, the strong themes of friendship and empathy, and the fun characters.
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What's the story?
As TROLLS begins, viewers learn that it's been 20 years since the cute, colorful, tall-haired creatures fled the mean, miserable Bergens, who can only feel happiness when they eat trolls. Led by Princess Poppy (voiced by Anna Kendrick), the trolls have long forgotten to be afraid of the Bergens and now enjoy a carefree life full of rainbows, parties, and songs. But when one of Poppy's parties gets especially loud and glittery, the exiled Bergen Chef (Christine Baranski) tracks them down and captures several of Poppy's closest friends. The plucky princess is determined to fix her mistake and rescue her pals -- but to do it, she'll need the help of pessimistic Branch (Justin Timberlake) and, eventually, a poorly treated Bergen named Bridget (Zooey Deschanel).
Is it any good?
Make no mistake: Kids are going to love this movie. Trolls is cute, it's colorful, it has tons of catchy songs, and the messages are positive and easy to understand (happiness is inside everyone, if you know where/how to find it, and you shouldn't have to change who you are to get someone to like you). Grown-ups might wish for a little more of the depth and nuance that Pixar has spoiled us into hoping for in animated movies. (And were the glitter farts really necessary?) But sometimes it's nice to just enjoy a sweet, fun kids' movie -- especially one that's full of songs you can't help singing along to.
Good thing, since there's a lot of singing. Musical numbers are used both to move the story along (for example, Poppy's never-give-up anthem, "Get Back Up Again") and to provide hits of visual/audio sugar (Timberlake's insanely catchy "Can't Stop the Feeling"). And classics like "The Sound of Silence" serve as clever punch lines for jokes designed to appeal to the adults in the audience. Also clever? The many creative ways the trolls use their magic hair, from creating a staircase in midair to whipping back hungry predators. There's so much to look at and listen to in this confection of a movie that you won't be bored -- just know that the soundtrack may be stuck in your head longer than the script.
Talk to your kids about ...
Families can talk about Trolls' messages about happiness. Do you agree with Poppy that everyone deserves to be happy? What do the Bergens learn about finding happiness? What makes you happy?
What does Bridget's storyline tell us about self-image? Why didn't she think the prince would like her as Bridget? How did becoming Lady Glitter Sparkles ultimately give her the confidence to believe in herself?
What do Branch and Poppy learn from each other? Why is it important to think about the consequences of your actions? Is that the only thing you should think about?
How do the songs contribute to the movie? Which one was your favorite, and why? Would you have liked the movie as much without all the music?
- In theaters: November 4, 2016
- On DVD or streaming: February 7, 2017
- Cast: Anna Kendrick, Justin Timberlake, Zooey Deschanel
- Directors: Mike Mitchell, Walt Dohrn
- Studio: Twentieth Century Fox Film Corporation
- Genre: Family and Kids
- Topics: Magic and Fantasy, Princesses, Fairies, Mermaids, and More, Adventures, Great Girl Role Models, Music and Sing-Along
- Character Strengths: Empathy, Perseverance
- Run time: 92 minutes
- MPAA rating: PG
- MPAA explanation: some mild rude humor
- Awards/Honors: Common Sense Seal
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