de facto film reviews 3.5 stars

Though movie theaters have been forced to close, causing several hyped films to get delayed, Universal is making the most of a bad situation by release their latest films online for rental. This now includes Dreamworks Animation’s newest film, Trolls World Tour. A sequel to their 2016 film Trolls, which are based on the classic Troll dolls, this film is a brightly colored, pop-fueled treat for the eyes, and may be the perfect cure for our current climate.

After saving her people from the Bergens, Poppy (Anna Kendrick) does everything she can to be the best queen possible to her tribe of trolls. With the help of her best friend Branch (Justin Timberlake), she leads her people into endless dance parties day after day. But not all is well in their world, as they are about to discover that they are not the only tribe of trolls that exist in their land.

In fact, they are one of six main tribes, each dedicated to a different type of music (pop, funk, classical, techno, country, and hard rock). The leaders of each tribe created six musical strings, able to play the six kinds along with all other existing types of music. But eventually, each tribe became disinterested in each other’s music, and decided that they’re better kept apart. At least, until now.

Queen Barb (Rachel Bloom), leader of the hard rock trolls, is on a global mission to obtain the six strings from each troll kingdom. Using a guitar of her own design, she plots to use the strings to unite the lands under the total control of hard rock. Of course, with her boisterous attitude, Poppy believes she can use the power of hugs to reason with her. So, she and Branch set off on a journey to unite the various tribes in a (friendly) fight against Barb’s conquest.

Trolls World Tour takes its world and characters in a very different direction than the first movie. In fact, it has almost no connection to the events of the first one aside from a brief visual reference. You can watch this movie without seeing the previous film and you won’t be confused. And that’s what makes a great sequel; a film that’s willing to let newcomers in while giving fans of the original more of what they love.

And in a time when things are very miserable and uncertain, this movie is something that is guaranteed to lift your spirits. Along with its absolutely stunning and colorful animation, the film has a very ambitious narrative that greatly expands the world of the trolls, while also making some very obvious parallels to the current state of our world (and some unintentional parallels to the pandemic).

But what sets this film apart from the hundreds of other movies that try to make the same messages is that this one does it very well. Its story of uniting the various troll tribes is a definite parallel to the concept of bringing all the world’s races and cultures together in harmony. A lot of movies are very quick to point the finger and label a bad guy, as well as make it clear that if you (the viewer) don’t believe in their views, you are a bad person. This movie makes it clear that everyone has their own views, but the way to peace isn’t to make one side look bad. The way to unite everyone is to calmly understand everyones’ sides and figure out how to come together as one. At a time when everyone is yelling at each other and no one seems to be able to compromise on their views, it’s nice to have a movie that supports a very adult opinion when it comes to settling differences.

But aside from the message, the film is well made in several other departments. The animation is very vibrant and creative. The way they build the world out of basic arts and crafts supplies gives it loads of character. It feels like The Lego Movie, where everything from water to smoke are made of lego pieces. The use of felt, tinsel, and even bubble soap in this movie makes the world feel playful and inviting; letting you know that this will be a smooth ride.

The voice cast is also very good here. Anna Kendrick and Justin Timberlake once again have great chemistry among each other. But more impressive is the line-up of music stars sprinkled throughout the film. It’s hard to tell which music stars actually have the talent to go into acting, especially voice acting. But all the various artists do pretty good jobs in their respective roles.

Trolls World Tour improves upon its predecessor with stunning animation, a stellar voice cast, and an ambitious story that offers a well-rounded message about the world coming together. It isn’t the best that Dreamworks has produced, but it’s far from the worst. If you’re looking for something to lift your spirits during this very troubling time, then this is worth a rent for the whole family to watch.