Movies

And Now, The Entirety Of ‘Trolls World Tour’ Recreated With Review Quotes

There’s a game we play around here, called Plot Recreated With Reviews. That’s where we take a movie we’re definitely not going to see, read every review we can, and attempt to piece together the entire thing using nothing but expository quotes from reviews. Some movies are just better secondhand.

I admit we have no excuse with Trolls World Tour. It was originally supposed to open in theaters this week, but thanks to COVID quarantines, Universal made the (very good) decision to release it directly to streaming on the same date. Many wondered if this unprecedented decision by a major studio would be the brick that shattered the previously sacrosanct 90-day theatrical window — presumed to help theaters stay in business.

Whatever the larger implications, you can stream it right now in your living room right now. Would you believe this movie is even tracking 70% recommended on RottenTomatoes? So yes, it is reportedly a decently watchable film that we could watch ourselves with minimum effort… but if I’m being honest, I’d rather hear from the people who saw than see it myself.

THE SETUP

Once more we are in the spirited company of Poppy (Anna Kendrick), the exhaustingly joyful queen of the pop trolls (LA Times)

still ruling over her domain happily enough with the help of her friend (Guardian)

former grouchy survivalist troll (Polygon)

Branch (Justin Timberlake), who is unable to confess his feelings for her. (Guardian)

Their mismatched temperaments give rise to a lot of bickering and mixed signals but never fear: Differences, after all, are what make harmony possible. (LA Times)

It’s set in a storybook kingdom that’s all sweetness and light and glitter and fuzz and bursting psychedelic pastels. (Variety)

But this film, with a bit of sleight-of-hand, now reveals the importance of the queen’s name. (Guardian)

THE REVEAL

They have pretty much always thought of themselves specifically as pop trolls: pop music is their thing. But it is revealed to Poppy that the troll kingdom is bigger than they thought. (Guardian)

Neighboring kingdoms have trolls defined by Funk, Country, Techno, Classical, and Rock music. (IGN)

The brightly glowing techno trolls dwell in an underwater grotto that offers just the right bioluminescent arena for their neon-hued raves. (LATimes)

It’s a true wall of sound rushing at your children, an onslaught that begins with Anthony Ramos, of Hamilton fame, yelling, “What’s up, techno trolls??” (Vanity Fair)

THE ANTAGONIST

Their rave is then invaded by spaceships designed like mini-dungeons. They’re a fleet led by Queen Barb (Rachel Bloom), monarch of the Hard Rock Trolls. (Variety)

A heavy-metal hellion in a red mohawk, wearing fishnets and three thick hoop earrings, she’s a self-styled demon goddess of hard rock (Variety)

who wants to force the others to stop grooving and start moshing. (Empire)

“We’re all going to have the same vibe,” she announces, sounding like Jack Black crossed with Joan Jett merged with Maleficent. “We’re all going to be one nation of Trolls — under rock!” (Variety)

THE EVIL PLAN

Daughter of Thrash (voiced by Ozzy Osbourne), Barb is on a world-tour mission to conquer all the other troll kingdoms and make them submit to the awesome majesty of rock. It appears that way back in the mists of time, the six types of music were six strings on a mystical Orphean lyre. (Guardian)

But the Trolls grew hostile to each other’s tastes, resulting in a land of colonies that sound like Sirius XM channels. (Variety)

Barb plans to collect all six strings as trophies, put them on her guitar and play one single devastating power chord: a Tolkienian moment which will (Guardian)

turn all trolls into “rock zombies.” (IGN)

POP TO THE RESCUE

Poppy and Branch head off on a world tour – to save the other tribes from being enslaved by Barb and to enjoy their musical stylings (Empire)

in an agreeable but rather one-dimensional slow-poke road movie, in which Poppy, Branch, and their stowaway sidekick, the charmingly terrified Biggie (James Corden), pay a visit to each of these musical lands, which turn out to be visually captivating but borderline cliché places. (Variety)

And so we get to meet the classical trolls (presided over by a troll named Trollzart), who like to perform Beethoven’s Fifth in charming pastel-powdered 18th-century wigs. (Vanity Fair/LA Times)

The land of the country Trolls, known as Lonesome Flats, features Kelly Clarkson as a really big-haired C&W diva singing the lachrymose “Born to Die,” and yields one more fellow traveler for Poppy and company: a chivalrous Deep South centaur named Hickory (Sam Rockwell). (Variety)

There are even other pockets they find along the way, too, including those for hip-hop, Reggaeton and even dedicated yodelers. (AP)

BUT WAIT

While Barb’s cause seems patently unjust, it is a form of payback — a rebellion against pop’s colonization of other music. (New York Times)

Poppy learns that the history lesson unspooled by her father is willfully papering over her ancestors’ colonizer crimes. (“Scrapbooks are made by the winners.”) (IGN)

The pop trolls’ Torah (seriously) neglects to mention they have crowded out the marketplace. If you were to connect some dots and apply way too much thought to the movie’s iconography, there is a hint here of an anti-Semitic trope: Jewish domination of the entertainment industry. (NY Times)

Then, that shocking reveal is glossed over when the Funk contingent instantly forgives them with a hip-hop song about love and unity. (IGN)

QUESTIONS REMAIN

For some reason, the smooth-jazz Troll (Polygon)

a brainwashing creep called “Slow Jazz Chaz” (IGN)

(Jamie Dornan), also a bounty hunter, whose mellow sax playing induces lysergic visions and paralysis (New York Times)

is derided all the way through the movie, in spite of the preaching about acceptances and differences. (Polygon)

Nobody likes that guy. (New York Times)

[Trolls World Tour also delights in] getting in a dig at the 20th century’s most unfairly maligned sub-genre, disco. (Why not teach the little ones of 2020 to love disco? Why perpetuate the cycle all for the sake of one joke they won’t understand, and is actually too dated for even their parents?) (Vanity Fair)

The K-pop trolls, the reggaeton trolls and the yodeling trolls are depicted as bounty hunters. Does something about regionally associated music suggest unscrupulous, mercenary qualities to the filmmakers? (New York Times)

Why do the pop Trolls claim Psy’s “Gangnam Style” as “one of their most important songs,” but consider the K-pop Trolls, voiced by actual K-pop group Red Velvet, to be separate from them? (Polygon)

It is dangerous to over-read Trolls World Tour, which celebrates musical diversity — pushing back against pop music’s appropriation of African-American artists’ innovations — and whose multiculturalism is clearly intended in a spirit of inclusiveness and good humor. (New York Times)

EDITORIALIZING/BEGRUDGING COMPLIMENTS

It’s all very episodic and predictable, building to the inevitable genre mash-up singalong, but there’s a likeable simplicity to it. (Empire)

It’s essentially a sped-up version of the jukebox musical. It runs through so many songs that it might be better called a Spotify musical, with infinite skips. (AP)

Trolls World Tour doesn’t really require the full effect and may actually be more enjoyable — more endurable — at medium volume. A TV screen and living-room acoustics serve to mitigate the sensory overload. (LA Times)

When they’re not too loud and you’ve sufficiently shielded your eyes, their sugary highs are pleasant enough and occasionally tuneful. An animated movie can do worse than indoctrinate another generation to the joys of Earth, Wind and Fire’s “September.” (AP)

The movie, directed by Walt Dohrn, still gives you the sensation of being barricaded in a karaoke lounge where all the attendees have snorted Sweet Tarts. (New York Times)

World Tour is essentially a primer for children on the vast diversity of musical styles, though pared down into a small handful of categories. I suppose there is some value in that, though a quick trip around Spotify could do the same, and spare you the cake-pooping giraffes. (Vanity Fair)


Wow, I’ll be honest, I did not expect the Trolls sequel to be a veiled lesson about musical colonialism. I feel strangely like I want to see it now. Talk about a surprise, Josh Gad isn’t even in it.

Vince Mancini is on Twitter. Read more Plots Recreated With Reviews here.

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