If you’re in your 20s or 30s and you live in the United States, chances are you played with a little plastic doll with a plastic jewel in its stomach called a troll. If you’re like me, you have fond memories of playing with these dolls, but unlike some other toys of that era, don’t necessarily have a strong nostalgic attachment to them either. Well, regardless of your overall feelings about these old toys, it looks like Hollywood is trying to take another swing at the same success of THE LEGO MOVIE in terms of creating an animated film that acts as blatant product placement in the form of the upcoming TROLLS. However, where THE LEGO MOVIE surprised critics and audiences with its overall quality and cleverness, TROLLS looks a little less inspired.
In defense of this teaser for the upcoming DreamWorks film, it has a lot of work to do to get the audience on its side. It’s pretty ludicrous to ask people to take this premise seriously. Even after the success of films like THE LEGO MOVIE, TRANSFORMERS, and the TOY STORY franchise, there’s always going to be a sense of incredulity that a good film can be made out of a toy line. I know from watching films like THE PIRATES OF THE CARIBBEAN that the source material for a film isn’t necessarily indicative of the final product; just because a film is based on something silly like a theme park attraction or a toy doesn’t mean that the film itself can’t be great. The problem presented in this teaser, however, has everything to do with its tone. When I see this trailer, I feel like I’m watching the a trailer for next installment of THE SMURFS or ALVIN AND THE CHIPMUNKS; films where cashing-in on nostalgia and capitalizing on merchandising tie-ins were more important than telling a good story. Probably the most egregious thing about this trailer is that it doesn’t feel like a DreamWorks film. When I think of DreamWorks, I think of under-appreciated epic fantasies, beautifully animated aerial acrobatics, clever satire of beloved genres, and surprisingly good action-comedies; I don’t think of cheap marketing gimmicks or lazy storytelling. This isn’t to say that DreamWorks hasn’t produced less than stellar work in the past, but when this company puts a lot of heart into a film, that always shines through, despite any flaws the film may have. I know it’s very early on, but I don’t feel any of that heart when I see this trailer.
To the teaser’s credit, it at least establishes that the Trolls do in fact have a rather imposing antagonist that they will have to overcome without giving away too much about the plot. So much so that you have to look at the synopsis to see what the movie is actually going to be about:
DreamWorks’ TROLLS is a hair-raising comedy filled with unbelievable adventure and incredible music. Known for their crazy, colourful, and magical hair, Trolls are the happiest, most joyous creatures ever to burst into song. But their world of rainbows and cupcakes is changed forever, when their leader Poppy (Anna Kendrick,) must embark on a rescue mission that takes her far beyond the only world she’s ever known.
What I find interesting, is that it seems from the description that the movie will be a musical, but there isn’t any indication of that in this teaser, instead we get a somewhat awkward dance scene instead. I’m truly hoping this movie will prove me wrong, as PIRATES did upon its initial release, not out of a love for Trolls themselves, but out of my love for DreamWorks films. I know that this studio puts out great work, and is often severely under-appreciated for its talent. However, until a full trailer is released to convince me otherwise, I think I’d prefer to skip this particular trot down memory lane.
What did you think of the trailer? Do you share my skepticism or do you think this is the makings of another DreamWorks classic? Be sure to let us know @TheMovieChickk!
Want to relive some memories of playing with childhood toys? Check out THE LEGO MOVIE on Amazon.com!