‘What You Should Know’ is a Rotoscopers series that gives you a detailed and (somewhat) objective rundown of this year’s animated films, right before or on the day they hit theaters. That way, you can make a decision of whether or not to see the movie based on the information provided.
DIRECTED BY: Mike Mitchell and Walt Dohrn
WRITTEN BY: Jonathan Aibel and Glenn Berger (based on a story by Erica Rivinoja)
STARRING: Anna Kendrick (Poppy), Justin Timberlake (Branch), Zooey Deschanel (Bridget), Russell Brand (Creek), James Cordon (Biggie), Aino Jawo (Satin), GloZell (Grandma Rosiepuff), John Cleese (King Gristle Sr.), Christopher Mintz-Plasse (King Gristle Jr.), Jeffery Tambor (King Peppy), and Quvenzhané Wallis as Harper.
MUSIC BY: Christophe Beck (Soundtrack produced by Justin Timberlake)
STUDIO: 20th Century Fox
PRODUCTION COMPANY: DreamWorks Animation
PRODUCTION BUDGET: $125 Million
BASED ON: The Troll dolls by Thomas Dam
WHAT’S IT ABOUT?:
Trolls is a modern re-imagining of the classic toy line, telling the story of two trolls on a quest to save their village from the wrath of the Troll-devouring Bergens.
A BRIEF HISTORY:
The film’s development cycle began in June of 2010, when DWA announced plans to develop a film based on the toys under the original direction of Tim Hill (Hop, Alvin and the Chipmunks) and the brother-sister writing team of Adam Wilson and Melanie Wilson LaBracio.
In 2012, Chloe Grace Moretz and Jason Schwartzman were originally reported to be locked into the female and male lead roles respectively. Later on, 20th Century Fox and DWA revealed the film’s original release date under directer Anand Tucker and writers Wallace Wolodarsky and Maya Forbes.
In 2013, the film was pushed back to November 4, 2016 and placed under the direction of director Mike Mitchell and screenwriter Erica Rivinoja, who re-imagined the film as a musical adventure film.
IMPORTANT STUFF TO KNOW:
In 2013, DreamWorks Animation surprised everyone by announcing it acquired the rights to the Trolls property from the Dam Family and their toy company Dam Things. This was done primarily with the intention of bolstering DWA’s consumer products business. As such, DWA became the exclusive worldwide licensor of the merchandise rights (Dam Things remains the licensor for its native Scandinavia).
During the design process for the film, production designer Kendal Cronkhite was inspired by the ’70s (an era where the dolls came into mainstream popularity). The clothing in particular was influenced by ’70s hippie culture.
Because there was no pre-existing mythology or story to the characters, Mitchell and Dohrn had free reign to build the world and mythology of the film as they saw fit. Their collective inspirations were (among many) Hayao Miyazaki, Adventure Time, and Jim Henson.
For reasons stated above, Trolls had a fairly huge marketing push, with a sizable presence at film festivals such as Cannes and Annecy and even geek-centered events like San Diego Comic-Con. We’re not only seeing ads for the movie itself, but the characters of the movie have also appeared in other commercials (see: the new Target ad for the holidays). If that’s not a sign of confidence in this film, I don’t know what is.
Screenwriters Jonathan Aibel and Glenn Berger have a great track record when it comes to animated movies (KFP trilogy, SpongeBob 2,). If early critical reception is any indication, Aibel and Berger continue to be an underrated commodity in the animation industry.
the film’s colorful design-work and it’s unique approach to world-building are likely to attract younger audiences and animation lovers. Also look for it to be a substantial draw for female audiences, a demographic that continues to be desired even after the popularity of Frozen has long wound down.
We are also coming off of a dry period for animated films, so even with a certain Marvel superhero movie arriving on the same day, starved demographics will finally have a nice treat to chew on before Disney arrives with the Thanksgiving dinner that is Moana.
As diverse as DWA’s offerings typically are, Trolls marks a step into uncharted territory for the company. As in, the movie lacks the company ultra-realistic/photo-real approach to animation in favor of a more cartoon-y, almost ‘squash and stretch’ style (an approach that appears to be catching on quite a bit in feature animation these days). Animation fans used to getting the former might have a hard time with this film.
The musical approach has been met with a mixed response from those in the animation community. Another example of how tricky animated musicals can be. There have been quite a few successes, but plenty of failures in that arena.
Not really a con, but Trolls has the odd privilege of being one of DWA’s ‘transition’ movies. That is, this will be one of the last films to be made under the 20th Century Fox contract before DWA officially operates as an NBCUniversal/Comcast-owned unit starting in 2018.
Also, the domestic box office numbers for Trolls might take a hit due to a certain Marvel superhero movie bowing in theaters on the same day (similar to how Sony’s The Magnificent Seven took some of the wind out of the box office sails of Warner Animation Group’s Storks). But then, there’s a possibility that it might not have much effect (see above in Pros).
Current estimates are looking pretty good for Trolls, even if there’s a Marvel movie on top of it (Doctor Strange). Rival studio projections see the film opening at $40 million on opening weekend. If that estimate holds, it will outpace DWA’s Bee Movie as their best Fall opening.
One definite advantage is the film will have already made a fair amount of money coming in: $69 million collected overseas.
WHAT THE CRITICS ARE SAYING:
Well, the critics sure seemed to like this one. Trolls currently has a 74% ‘Certified Fresh’ rating on Rotten Tomatoes. The written consensus reads: “Trolls brings its instantly recognizable characters to the big screen in a colorful adventure that, while geared toward the younger set, isn’t without rewards for parents.”
If you’re in for a weird combination of A-list bells and whistles (all-star cast, slick musical numbers, etc.) and indie-style aesthetics (H.R. Pufnstuf-inspired visuals, off-kilter fantasy setting/world building, etc.), than Trolls could be your jam.
If this article has you interested in seeing Trolls, buy your tickets here on Fandango.
Thank you for reading this installment of What You Should Know!
What do you think? Is Trolls worth seeing in theaters?
Edited by: Hannah Wilkes