You just think we're divided along political and demographic lines,
but few things divide us into camps more than our tastes in music.
Not only are there traditional enmities, like between country and
rap, but also between subcategories, like traditional tejano and funk.
Chances are, if you're a classical music afficianado, you're not
into punk rock. If you enjoy
smooth jazz, you probably don't like techno.
In this animated film from Dreamworks, trolls are divided into six
different tribes: Funk,
Country, Techno, Classical, Pop, and Rock.
(Yes, one could certainly debate the selection of those categories
to the exclusion of others, but that's part of the fun.)
The Queen of the Pop realm, Poppy (Anna Kendrick) and her best
friend, Branch (Justin Timberlake), are confronted by the troll who's the
Queen of Rock (Rachel Bloom), and told they're in for a war.
Rock wants to take over all of the six realms, so Poppy and Branch
go on a journey to try to enlist the aid of the other trolls.
Poppy begins with the assumption that they're all the same, because
they're all trolls, but has to learn along the way that minimizing
differences actually disrespects individuality.
She also has to learn that being a leader doesn't mean trying to
get everybody to think like you, but instead, allowing everyone else to
have their say, as well. Branch,
for his part, has a hard time whenever he tries to tell Poppy how much she
means to him. But Director
Walt Dohrn wisely doesn't force us to root for the romance.
Instead, he invites to celebrate all the different genres, for
their uniqueness of expression. Yes,
there's a bit of tongue-in-cheek bias, about how Pop ruins everything
(Kendrick and Timberlake both being representatives of that genre).
But the plot is a good excuse for a spirited concert, celebrating
different styles. The only
thing that doesn't work well is the attempt, at the end, to find a song
that would represent everyone----it doesn't.
But then, that's part of the point of the rest:
music doesn't have to be all homogenized.
We can enjoy it in all its colorful variations.
No, it's not world-shaking cinema, and the fate of the universe is
not at stake. But as a
harmless little offering about embracing our different tastes, even in
music—especially in music—-it's a well-timed tale of tolerance and
partnership in a nervous era of distrust and suspicion.
And the whole quarantined family can enjoy it together.