Burst of sweetness from sunny trolls

The cuddly creatures in Trolls are a watered-down version of the 1990s original.
The cuddly creatures in Trolls are a watered-down version of the 1990s original.PHOTO: TWENTIETH CENTURY FOX

REVIEW / ANIMATION MUSICAL

TROLLS (PG)

93 minutes/Opens tomorrow/3/5 stars

The story: The mopey Bergen monsters kidnap and eat Trolls because this is the only way they can feel happy. When a Bergen named Chef (Christine Baranski) captures Troll princess Poppy's (Anna Kendrick) best friends, she sets out with the cynical Branch (Justin Timberlake) to save them.

These are not the creepy-looking troll dolls that children in the 1990s collected for unfathomable reasons.

Their signature rainbowcoloured, up-combed hair is intact, but they now have cute faces. So they are still trolls, but dipped in the Care Bears jar.

Clearly, animation studio Dreamworks is hoping that by making them look more adorable, they would have a shot at becoming this year's hottest Christmas toy for the younger set.

Meanwhile, adults will be drawn to them anyway for more nostalgic reasons, even if the trolls here are a watered-down version of the original.

The film they star in is not entirely a soulless merchandising endeavour, though.

There is a lesson to be learnt from the story here, even if it is cliched - happiness comes from within.

The trolls repeat this truism, word for word and multiple times throughout the film - a prospect that is a lot less annoying than it sounds because the characters are so earnest about it.

Princess Poppy, in particular, voiced by an uber-sunny Kendrick, is so sincerely optimistic all the time that she seems like Dora The Explorer on steroids.

Like the other trolls, she also loves to sing - mostly interpretations of feel-good songs such as Junior Senior's Move Your Feet and Diana Ross' I'm Coming Out, all arranged by pop star Justin Timberlake, who voices a character (Branch) and also serves as executive music producer of the film.

Many of the musical numbers feel unnecessary. But they are fun and inventive like the visuals.

From the bright, neon-coloured palette - complete with bursts of shiny glitter - to the design of the locations using craft material such as felt and fabric, the whole thing is one glorious, eye-popping affair.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on November 02, 2016, with the headline 'Burst of sweetness from sunny trolls'. Print Edition | Subscribe