While Trolls Band Together works as an innocuous piece of children’s entertainment, it’s official that the popular animated series may be finally spinning its wheels and overreaching for ideas. Resident franchise directors Walt Dohrn (Trolls World Tour) and Tim Heitz (Trolls Holiday in Harmony) return to helm this sequel that does something the other feature-length movies haven’t done: call attention to itself.
Including Justin Timberlake as a featured voice in a musical cavalcade of pop songs has been an in-joke that the series has, sort of, refused to acknowledge. With Trolls Band Together, Timberlake’s past as a member of boy band NSYNC is, sort of, a plot point. The musician’s character, Branch, is forced to revisit his secret identity as the youngest member of the disbanded troupe BroZone when his wayward brother/bandmate John Dory (Bad Trip’s shock comic Eric André) recruits Branch to save a kidnapped member of BroZone, Floyd (musician Troye Sivan). John Dory and Branch, along with other Trolls such as Poppy (franchise regular Anna Kendrick) and Tiny Diamond (The Grinch’s Kenan Thompson), have to piece BroZone back together in hopes to defeat Floyd’s kidnappers with the “Perfect Family Harmony”.
Trolls Band Together receives a pass for using tried-and-true formulas like “getting the band back together” and the blueprints of a “road movie” because of its stronger individual components: the vibrant animation is the best its ever been, the music rocks, and the voice work is energetic and impressively masked. Kids who have been fans of these movies will undoubtably be pleased by this flick, and their parents will catch themselves giggling and keeping rhythm with their feet.
However, by having the franchise cash its frosted-tip chips (which also includes a brief reunion with the original members of NSYNC), I worry that the next Trolls movie may break too much of a sweat trying to think of a concept that will top Trolls Band Together. This is nothing that will keep any movie goer up at night but, for the fourth installment, don’t be surprised if the Trolls have to “travel back in time to save music” or every Troll becomes a “super spy”. If that speculation is correct, the tunes and the jokes better be really good.
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Addison Wylie: @AddisonWylie