TROLLS BAND TOGETHER | Universal Pictures Canada | November 17, 2023
Starring: Anna Kendrick, Justin Timberlake, Camila Cabello, Eric André, Amy Schumer, Andrew Rannells, Troye Sivan, Daveed Diggs, Kid Cudi, Zosia Mamet, Zooey Deschanel
Directed By: Walt Dohrn
After two films of true friendship and relentless flirting, Poppy (voice of Anna Kendrick) and Branch (voice of Justin Timberlake) are now officially, finally, a couple (#broppy)! As they grow closer, Poppy discovers that Branch has a secret past. He was once part of her favorite boyband phenomenon, BroZone, with his four brothers: Floyd (voice of Troye Sivan), John Dory (voice of Eric André), Spruce (voice of Daveed Diggs) and Clay (voice of Kid Cudi). BroZone disbanded when Branch was still a baby, as did the family, and Branch hasn’t seen his brothers since.
But when Branch’s bro Floyd is kidnapped for his musical talents by a pair of nefarious pop-star villains—Velvet (voice of Amy Schumer) and Veneer (voice of Andrew Rannells)—Branch and Poppy embark on a harrowing and emotional journey to reunite the other brothers and rescue Floyd from a fate even worse than pop-culture obscurity.
REVIEW BY: Darren Zakus
Trolls Band Together brings all the boy band energy that audiences could want from this animated musical, that with a compilation of catchy musical numbers and some laugh out loud moments for audiences of all ages, ensures that this is going to be a film for the entire family to enjoy.
Audiences first met Poppy and Branch back in 2016 in Trolls, which turned out to be a delightful, vibrant animated musical that instantly connected with younger viewers. To no surprise, a sequel was quickly announced, taking audiences on another musical adventure with a Trolls World Tour, which failed to carry that spark of enjoyment for adult audiences in an Avengers: Infinity War-esque film. But, returning back to the pop-music infused roots of the first film and improving on the first sequel, Trolls Band Together is both a nostalgia ride for parents with all the boy band excitement and references sprinkled throughout the film, as well as a musical and colourful adventure for the little ones to enjoy together.
After Branch’s long lost brother John Dory tracks him down, Poppy discovers that Branch used to be part of the boy band “BroZone” with all of his brothers. But with his brother Floyd kidnapped by new, wannabe music superstars Velvet and Veneer, who are using his Troll-ness to enhance their singing voices, Poppy and Branch must track down the rest of BroZone so that they can save Floyd with the only thing powerful enough to break him out of the prison Velvet and Veneer have him locked in: the perfect family musical harmony.
As with the other two films in the series, Trolls Band Together has a strong moral message for younger viewers, this time about the power of family. It’s nicely woven throughout the film’s story about lost siblings and getting BroZone back together, even if there are a few too many jokes that spoon feed you the theme of the film. The children will enjoy these jokes, but adult audiences will find them growing old quickly. With a short run time of ninety two minutes, the film does not stop moving, which is probably best for younger audiences as it quickly moves from song to joke to the next song, assuring that their attention is never lost. At the same time, there are lots of jokes surrounding boy bands and the music industry that parents will get a good laugh out of, including one great joke that references as many boy bands you can think of, as well some jokes of a more mature nature that will go over the little ones’ heads.
Easily the best part of any Trolls film is the soundtrack which always brings a wonderful compilation of covers of chart topping pop songs that will have audiences tapping their toes. And the latest film is no exception to this standard, with classic pop songs like “9 to 5”, “Fame”, “Sweet Dreams (Are Made of This)”, “We Are Family” and “Keep It Comin’ Love” getting the treatment this time and sung gleefully by the film’s talented cast. But the selling point of the film is the new *NSYNC song “Better Place”, the first song from the infamous boy band in 22 years. It’s a great song, and with *NSYNC being turned into Trolls and performing it at the end of the film with star and co-band member Justin Timberlake, it's a reunion for the ages. It’s too bad the scene itself in the film isn’t a bigger moment in the film, but it is something that older audiences will have a great time watching nonetheless.
From an animation standpoint, the film looks great. Continuing the visual style of the first two films, colourful computer generated animation populates the film and helps the characters and story leap off the screen. One sequence features a throwback to the hand drawn Saturday morning cartoons of the 80s and 90s, which while it feels strangely out of place given how it comes about, it’s a nice nod to where the genre has come from.
There is no doubt in my mind that Trolls Band Together is going to be a hit with younger audiences as it continues the music driven, goofy comedy that made the first two films a hit. But I’m happy to report that this one is a film that parents will easily enjoy thanks to a great use of boy band and music culture throughout the film, ensuring that Trolls Band Together is going to be a fun time at the movies. Audiences will come for the great reunion of *NSYNC and their first new song in over two decades “Better Place”, but in addition Trolls Band Together offers great musical numbers, colourful animation and lots of laughs for the entire family to enjoy