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What parents need to know
Parents need to know that Trolls World Tour is the sequel to the popular 2016 animated musical. This time around, Poppy (voiced by Anna Kendrick), Branch (Justin Timberlake), and their friends aren't up against the Bergens, but rather other groups of Trolls, each representing a different genre of music. The Hard Rock Trolls want to turn everyone else into Rock Trolls, too, so the heroes must try to save the others' musical styles -- which helps drive home the movie's messages about the importance of diversity in thought, musical taste, and cultural preferences. The story also promotes teamwork, communication, empathy, friendship, and loyalty. Expect a bit of insult/rude language ("screwed," "dang," "you suck"). There's also peril as the Rock Trolls wreak havoc and destruction and kidnap and terrorize other Troll groups. A character on the verge of drowning glimpses his "heaven" but quickly comes back to life. Poppy and Branch flirt and have romantic tension.The all-star cast performs a combination of original and cover songs, and notable additions to the voice roster include Rachel Bloom, Kelly Clarkson, and Ozzy Osbourne.
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What's the story?
Like its predecessor -- the hit 2016 animated adventure Trolls -- TROLLS WORLD TOUR stars the voices of Anna Kendrick and Justin Timberlake as Queen Poppy and her best friend/love interest, Branch. Their happy existence is threatened when Poppy gets an invitation to bring her "pop" string to a party with Queen Barb (Rachel Bloom) of Hard Rock. Ever the optimist, Poppy thinks the invite is in good faith. But then her father reveals that there are actually six Troll territories, each of which represents a different style of music: pop, funk, techno, classical, country, and rock. Each group has a magical string that's the essence of their musical genre. Poppy, Branch, and friends set out to visit the various territories. They quickly discover that Barb and her father, King Thrash (Ozzy Osbourne), aren't trying to unite the once divided Trolls but rather to destroy any kind of music that's not Rock.
Is it any good?
This sweet sequel encourages inclusion and diversity -- both in terms of musical genre and cultural background -- while making audiences of all ages smile. It's not as exciting as the original (few sequels are), but the Trolls deliver on providing a much-needed diversion for families. Bloom is a great addition to the cast. As Crazy Ex-Girlfriend proved, she can sing any style of music. Here she does a fine job channeling a hard/heavy metal rocker as she performs "Barracuda," "Crazy Train," and "Rock You Like a Hurricane." Other stand-out additions to Trolls World Tour include the Funk Troll royal family -- George Clinton as King Quincy, Mary J. Blige as Queen Essence, and Anderson .Paak as Prince D. -- as well as Kelly Clarkson as country's Delta Dawn and Sam Rockwell as Hickory, a mysterious cowboy who helps Poppy and Branch.
Movies don't come out in a vacuum, so it's important to acknowledge the context of this sequel's release. Trolls World Tour is being released straight to streaming and video-on-demand during an unprecedented time of global quarantine, when parents of little kids through teens are particularly grateful for any reason to come together and laugh. Happily, it offers enough laughs and colorful visuals -- not to mention an adorably teeny troll called Tiny Diamond (voiced by Kenan Thompson) and a medley of familiar covers and catchy original songs -- to charm even older kids and adults. It also has surprisingly positive messages, serving both as a reminder that history can be perceived more than one way and as a call for togetherness.
Talk to your kids about ...
Families can talk about Trolls World Tour's messages about the importance of diversity and of listening to others' voices. Do you think it's specifically about musical taste or does it apply to other differences, too?
What do the Funk King and Queen mean about how history is written by those in power? What do you think they're trying to say about musical styles that "steal" from other genres?
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?
- On DVD or streaming: July 7, 2020
- Cast: Justin Timberlake, Anna Kendrick, James Corden
- Director: Walt Dohrn
- Studio: Universal Pictures
- Genre: Family and Kids
- Topics: Magic and Fantasy, Music and Sing-Along
- Character strengths: Communication, Empathy, Teamwork
- Run time: 94 minutes
- MPAA rating: PG
- MPAA explanation: some mild rude humor
- Last updated: April 3, 2021
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