[Screen It]


(2020) (voices of Anna Kendrick, Justin Timberlake) (PG)

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Computer-Animated Comedy/Musical: A Troll Queen hopes to reunite various factions of Trolls through a common love of music, only to learn that one ruler wants to force her style of music onto everyone else.

Once upon a time, all of the various types of Trolls were unified through their common love of music. But different styles and tastes eventually led to a riff and the forming of six different Trolls tribes -- Pop, Rock, Country, Funk, Techno, and Classical. All of that comes as a surprise to Queen Poppy (voice of ANNA KENDRICK) and her loyal friend Branch (voice of JUSTIN TIMBERLAKE) who've recently saved their village from a much larger species with an appetite for Trolls.

Poppy learns of the six different tribes from her father, King Peppy (voice of JEFFREY TAMBOR), after receiving notice of a hard rock tour by Queen Barb (voice of RACHEL BLOOM). While Peppy warns her that no good will come of that, and Branch thinks it's a bad idea, Poppy sees it as a way to reunite the various tribes back into one happy Trolls family. Unbeknownst to them, Queen Barb and her hard rock followers have already laid waste to the lands of techno and classical music.

With Branch reluctantly joining her and realizing they have an unintentional stowaway, Biggie (voice of JAMES CORDEN), with them, Poppy hopes to get to the land of country music to warn its ruler, Delta Dawn (voice of KELLY CLARKSON), of what's coming, but she and the rest aren't impressed by Poppy's pop music medley and throw all of them in jail.

Fortunately for them, Troll horse Hickory (voice of SAM ROCKWELL) springs them from that and they hope to warn the land of funk ruled over by Queen Essence (voice of MARY J. BLIGE, King Quincy (voice of GEORGE CLINTON) and Prince D (voice of ANDERSON .PAAK), all of whom have a connection to Poppy's friend, Cooper (voice of RON FUNCHES), who previously wandered off in search of other Trolls like him.

With Queen Barb intent on forcing her style of music on the rest of the world and turning everyone into hard rock zombies, it's up to Poppy and her friends to make sure that doesn't happen.

OUR TAKE: 6 out of 10

For decades, good old fashioned rock and roll dominated the music industry like no other style in terms of featuring the biggest bands, the most record sales of 45s and LPs, and dominating the airwaves. I don't know exactly when the heydey stopped -- it was obviously a slow decline -- but nowadays with music more diversified than ever, you'd be hard-pressed to find a radio station that plays rock music or name a band that dominated the charts in the past number of years.

Yet, there are still diehards out there, coveting their old albums and listening to niched-down channels on satellite radio and such. If any of them happen upon "Trolls World Tour" -- the sequel to 2016's "Trolls" (that earned nearly $350 million at worldwide box office coffers) -- I know who they'll be rooting for.

No, it won't be Queen Poppy (voiced by Anna Kendrick reprising her role from the original flick), she of the stop, dance and sing slightly altered versions of various bouncy pop songs. Instead, they'll likely side with Queen Barb (Rachel Bloom), a studded leather-wearing, spiked hair Joan Jett wannabe who wants hard rock music to take over the world of Trolls.

And much like Thanos wanting to collect all of the Infinity Stones in the last "Avengers" flicks, she's after six colorful instrument strings -- representing the various types of music in the land of Trolls -- that when strung onto a special electric guitar will allow her to rule over all others. Okay, the outcome of that isn't quite as potentially universe-cleansing as those superhero movies, and the stakes aren't as high as in the last "Trolls" flick where the cute little characters were trying to avoid being eaten by much larger beings.

Nonetheless, and considering the world in which we're currently living (in lockdown of one form or another nearly everywhere and with political divisions continuing to deepen), I have to say this offering is an entertaining enough diversion (with some important life lessons) that it earns a passing grade.

Pretty much taking up where the last film left off, the story -- penned by Jonathan Aibel & Glenn Berger and Maya Forbes & Wallace Wolodarsky and Elizabeth Tippet -- begins with a prologue of happy Trolls enjoying their vibrant techno music when Barb shows up in an armada of flying/floating cases of some sort (that, with the zipper teeth exposed, sort of look like giant piranhas) and lays waste to the place with a few select power chords from her guitar.

Following that, we return to happy pop Trolls land where Poppy is now the Queen, with her loyal friend Branch (Justin Timberlake) at her side as they and the rest launch into a vibrant, Trollified version of Cyndi Lauper's "Girls Just Want to Have Fun." That's followed by a goth-rock bat showing up with a notice of Queen Barb's world tour, which Poppy thinks is a fab idea until her dad, the former king, shares a secret from the past.

It turns out, at least as he tells it, that long ago the Trolls all split up into various music factions -- Pop, Rock, Country, Funk, Techno, and Classical -- after a falling out and have lived secret separate lives ever since. Poppy thinks Barb's tour could bring them all back together again, but her dad and Branch caution against that.

Undeterred, she sets out to find Barb and make that happen, unaware of the musical carnage occurring elsewhere. Natch, once she realizes what's happening, she tries to warn others -- including stops in Country where a pop medley results in their leader (Kelly Clarkson) throwing them all in a western jail, only to be freed by a friendly cow, um, horse-poke (Sam Rockwell) and then in Funk (where Mary J. Blige and George Clinton voice the rulers).

Like before, all of that results in slapstick style action, mild bits of peril, some decent laughs and lots and lots of altered cover songs (and perhaps some new ones that I didn't recognize) and co-directors Walt Dohrn and David P. Smith keep things moving at a brisk pace for most of the film's 90-minute duration. The kids will probably love it and adults stuck at home with them might enjoy the goofy diversion away from today's grim news, political posturing and so on. I found it a step or so below the original, but still fun enough to earn a 6 out of 10 rating.

Reviewed April 9, 2020 / Posted April 10, 2020

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