Producer: Gina Shay Directors: Walt Dohrn and Tim Heitz Screenplay: Elizabeth Tippet Cast: Anna Kendrick, Justin Timberlake, Eric André, Kid Cudi, Daveed Diggs, Andrew Rannells, Amy Schumer, Troye Sivan, Kenan Thompson, *NSYNC (JC Chasez, Lance Bass, Joey Fatone and Chris Kirkpatrick), Camila Cabello, Aino Jawo, Zosia Mamet, Zooey Deschanel, Christopher Mintz-Plasse, Kevin Michael Richardson, RuPaul, Icona Pop, Ron Funches, Anderson .Paak, Patti Harrison, Kunal Nayyar, Walt Dohrn and GloZell Distributor: Universal
If you’re interested in having a psychedelic experience without the drugs, you might visit this third installment in the DreamWorks Animation franchise. In the production design of Ruben Perez Reynoso “Trolls Band Together” is so weirdly and garishly colorful that it’s positively blinding, even disorienting. And as hectically paced by directors Walt Dohrn and Tim Heitz and edited by Nick Fletcher as it is, it may leave you with a buzz; whether you’ll find that a pleasant sensation is an open question.
It’s also doubtful whether you’ll find the meta quality of Elizabeth Tippet’s script all that amusing. It’s based on the revelation that Branch (voiced by Justin Timberlake) was once the baby member of a boy band called BroZone (his outfit, embarrassingly enough, was a diaper). His secret gets out when his oldest brother John Dory (Eric André), whose bossy attitude led to the group’s breakup after he berated them for failing to achieve perfect harmony in their last concert, shows up to seek Branch’s help in rescuing their brother Floyd (Troye Sivan), the “sensitive one.” Floyd’s been kidnapped by ambitious but talent-free twins Velvet (Amy Schumer) and Veneer (Andrew Rannells), who are keeping him trapped in a diamond spray bottle and sapping his musical ability for their own performances.
Branch, still smarting from the breakup, is reluctant to join John Dory in the quest, but Queen Poppy (Anna Kendrick), his girlfriend, impresses on him the importance of family—and her sadness over not having had a sister. So he agrees to accompany his brother in his insect-like van Rhonda to track down their siblings and rescue Floyd by finally achieving the “perfect harmony” that can shatter his diamond prison; Poppy, of course, goes as well, as does Tiny Diamond (Kenan Thompson), a shiny, sequined little glitter troll with a hip-hop attitude; and following in their wake, just because they’re fan favorites, are the recently-wed Gristle Jr. (Chiristopher Mintz-Plasse), King of the once-fearsome Bergens, and his bride Bridget (Zooey Deschanel), the erstwhile scullery maid Poppy befriended.
The team finds brother Spruce (Daveed Diggs) with a large (in every sense) family on an island resort and convince him to join the odyssey, and then Clay (Kid Cudi) at a compound he shares with a militantly reclusive troll named Viva (Camila Cabello), who turns out to be someone important to Poppy. The four brothers and Poppy then proceed to Mount Rageous, Velvet and Veneer’s extravagant performance venue, only to find themselves in the crosshairs of the evil twins and their assistant Crimp (Zosia Mamet), who looks like a more colorful version of the Addams Family’s Cousin Itt. But pluck, brotherhood and a little help from friends save the day in a wild finale featuring a concert, a chase, plenty of varied animation styles and a bucketful of jokes about boy bands that will elude the kids but are obviously aimed at their parents. The other members of *NSYNC (JC Chasez, Lance Bass, Joey Fatone and Chris Kirkpatrick) even show up to join Timberlake for “Better Place,” their first new song in more than twenty years.
Aside from that, “Trolls Band Together” is rather like a jukebox musical, with medleys of old standards interspersed with some original material and blended in with Theodore Shapiro’s background score. It’s all bouncy enough to keep the youngsters happy and will probably tickle the memories of their millennial moms and dads. And the voice cast do yeoman service in the musical numbers as well as the dialogue scenes, often at very high volume.
The result is a visual and aural onslaught that will certainly not put anyone, young or old, to sleep—indeed, it won’t let you doze off even if you want to. But you might find it entirely too much to take.