When DreamWorks kicked off the “Trolls” franchise in 2016, one could practically hear the squeals of joy from studio execs: a tentpole blockbuster that took the name-brand dolls and reimagined them as colorful singing creatures doing renditions of seemingly every pop hit of the last half century. It was built for mass appeal toddler fixation. The movies also could be charming and even take their premise in interesting directions.
After the previous film delved into various music genres, the natural next progression for the third movie, “Trolls Band Together,” seemed to be the boy band craze. After all, Justin Timberlake was already the franchise’s star (and yes, the third “Trolls” movie is what reunites ’N Sync for their first new song in over two decades). It turns out, his character, Branch, has four older brothers and they once formed a boy band known as BroZone. When the band broke up, so did the brotherhood.
But when one of his brothers is kidnapped and drained of his talent by an evil pop duo, Velvet and Veneer (Amy Schumer and Andrew Rannells), Branch — with the encouragement of Poppy (Anna Kendrick) — begrudgingly reunites with his brothers for a rescue mission.
That journey takes us on what, with its alarmingly frenetic pacing and visual stimuli, feels at times like experiencing an acid trip at a rave for babies. And yet, in execution the movie, directed by Walt Dohrn, never feels cheap. The animation is strong, if too candy-coated, and the film is clever and funny from time to time. And parents might even find their own inner boy band fever ignited alongside their kids.
Trolls Band Together
Rated PG. Running time: 1 hour 32 minutes. In theaters.