DreamWorks Animation just previewed some footage from their upcoming animated movie Trolls, based on the toy phenomenon that was perhaps most popular in the ’90s. At least that’s when I remember Trolls growing up. Directors Mike Mitchell and Walt Dohrn explained the footage we were about to see and said they didn’t want to use CGI to create realistic environments. Instead, they textured their landscapes out of felt, to match the materials with which original Troll dolls were made. That was apparent with all the fuzz sticking off trees, insects and fruits in the footage screened.
Trolls is set in a world where the Trolls are all about love. They have hourly hugs and sing songs about being happy. In their past, giant creatures called Bergens came to eat trolls, but they’ve been gone for decades. So Poppy (Anna Kendrick) is the happy pink troll. Branch (Justin Timberlake) is the grayer troll who doesn’t partake in hugs or singing. He’s anticipating a new Bergen attack so he prepares in his bunker.
We saw a troll poop cupcakes, so if that doesn’t sell tickets right there, I don’t know what does. Troll hair is big, as trolls wake up in hair pods that unfurl, and they can also turn their own hair into staircases.
The major sequence we saw comes when Poppy visits Branch to convince him to attend a big party. Branch thinks the party will attract Bergens and plans to stay in his bunker, which has supplies for 10-11 years. This bunker also includes about 1000 mousetraps, Branch’s Beautiful Mind yarn board charting suspected Bergen sightings (I presume), and an elevator down below to his vast troll cave.
Branch was right though and some of Poppy’s friends get captured by Bergens. When Poppy invites all the trolls to the bunker, they go through all of Branch’s supplies and force him to join Poppy in her quest to rescue them. It’s the classic buddy adventure where Poppy can teach Branch to have fun and Branch can teach Poppy to take a little more responsibility. Poppy isn’t oblivious to the problems in the world, but she’d rather be happy about things than not.
Poppy sings an original song “Get Back Up Again” which is sure to be a Top 40 hit. She also sings “Sounds of Silence” and later Branch sings a heartbreaking rendition of “True Colors.” A weather montage shows snow, wind, and desert in Troll world. Floating eyeballs, spiders with four eyes, and a cloud with socks are some of the magical creatures they encounter. The cloud rains when he gets scared.
When Poppy and Branch get to the Bergen town, we see what their lives are like. They’re all gray and they mumble their way through a “happy” song that sounds more like “Sixteen Tons.” The trolls can lose their color too if they don’t stay happy. Even Poppy can get down, but Branch’s “True Colors” brings her true colors back.
Kendrick and Timberlake joined the directors for a Q&A following the footage presentation. Trolls opens in theaters on November 4, 2016.