Dreamworks has given us an animated musical that hits all the right notes.  If you're looking for a “happy movie” you can take your children and grandchildren (or grandparents) to without worrying about anything inappropriate popping up unexpectedly, this is your chance.

            “Trolls” stars Anna Kendrick as Poppy, the happiest troll of all, who loves leading everyone in song and dance and hugs.  Her best friend is Branch (played by Justin Timberlake), who doesn't share her optimistic view of the world.  In fact, he's built an underground survival bunker for when things turn sour, which he fully expects.  He thinks Poppy is so consistently optimistic because she just hasn't faced a challenge yet.

            And in a way, he's right.  The neighboring Bergens are the polar opposite:  they are all miserable all the time.  They think they can only be happy if they eat trolls, and so they set out to capture some, and ironically find their hiding place because Poppy's celebration was so loud and boisterous.

            Now Branch has a perfect use for his survival bunker, except he realizes that Poppy, and the rest of the trolls, need his help.  The irony is that he is the one who has to encourage her this time.

            Of course we have to somehow arrange things so the Bergens find out they can find happiness without destroying the trolls.  In fact, the whole thing is a kind of political and social message about finding happiness within yourself, rather than at the expense of others. 

            The eclectic pop music seems to fit in well with the screenplay and its characters.  There's a bit of humor and lightheartedness, but there's also a good “moral to the story” at the end.  What's not to like?


Questions for Discussion:

1)                  When have you thought that you could only be happy by supplanting someone else?

2)                  When has music lifted your spirits?

3)                  When has an unlikely romance brightened your perspective?


Dr. Ronald P. Salfen, DFW Film Critics Association