Leonard Cohen: Bird on a Wire
Palmer's film is that rare concert doc that isn't for established fans only.
“Trolls” is a sugar-shocked “Shrek,” an aggressively auto-tuned animated fun ride for easily distracted times. Imagine being trapped in a 3-D bouncy castle while being pelted by glitter, sparkles, rainbows, unicorns, marshmallows and cupcakes as Day-Glo woodland creatures, modeled on those smiley naked dolls with feral cotton-candy tresses that were a thing back in the ‘60s, attempt to bliss you into submission.
Yes, it’s likely that most kids won’t notice that this bedazzled confection echoes a certain fairy-tale-skewering franchise built around a sullen green ogre that turned DreamWorks, the company also behind “Trolls,” into a ‘toon superpower. The switcheroo here is that there are not one but two miserable males who are rescued by their love interests while the ladies save the day.
The original “Shrek,” for all of its merciless mockery of a certain competitor’s legacy, at least possessed a beating heart and an expansive soul as exhibited by its then-novel use of the melancholy ballad “Hallelujah” in its tale of redemption. “Trolls,” meanwhile, is a derivative madcap money machine that is all about ensuring that DreamWorks, which has had few hits other than sequels in recent years, has a fresh pipeline of steady revenue. All you have to do is sit through the end credits to see how many bodies were devoted to securing licensing deals (Target.com alone lists 165 tie-in products).
That said, youngsters and more than a few adults probably won’t care that this visual simulation of mindlessly munching an entire bowl full of Skittles and Starbursts in one sitting is basically hollow inside, even with its rather rote message that the power to be happy resides within us all. We are but mere humans, and it will be hard to resist the pre-fabricated pseudo charms of an escapist musical fantasia that invests most of its ingenuity into its insanely infectious soundtrack. The oldies lean heavily on re-imagined staples from every wedding reception held since the ‘80s: “September,” “I’m Coming Out,” “Total Eclipse of the Heart,” “Hello,” “True Colors” and even the Brady Bunch ditty “It’s a Sunshine Day.”