Starring: Anna Kendrick, Christine Baranski, Justin Timberlake, James Corden

Director: Mike Mitchell, Walt Dohrn

92 minutes

If there is one single outstanding disparity between American and UK audiences, it’s their contrasting response to sassiness. Our friends situated on the west side of the Atlantic tend to like the cockiness of the free spirited, the potentially misguided uber-confidence of the young. It’s the American dream. In stiffer upper-lipped Blighty, we prefer our children to contain their confidence, allowing it only to surface in times of final-scene giant slaying after a serious amount of consideration and reflection, ideally after a difficult evil-step-mother related upbringing. It’s the English way. This is why Jennifer Aniston simply doesn’t work in the UK. It’s why we’ve booted James Corden’s sorry ass over to the land of the free. This is also why Home was greeted by UK audiences in the same way that it hides behind the curtains with the lights off when the bad kid from the estate pops around for Trick or Treat.

For anyone fortunate enough to be raised in a decade other than the one that gave the world Cabbage Patch Kids, boil-in-a-bag meat and cigarette shaped sweets, Trolls may come as somewhat of an unknown entity. If you fit into that category, be glad. Trolls were horrid little plastic characters with horrendously unpleasant cheap acrylic faux fur hair which paved the way for US sub-culture imports bringing impossible to construct plastic Transformers to a previously logical paintable Air Fix society. Before Sky+ and Marathons were renamed Snickers. Those days. Yet the point of Trolls is still somewhat murky, even taking into consideration the mists of time. Rubbing their hair was sure to grant wishes. Probably.

However, there is a film to discuss here. The trolls live in a tree; they get picked and eaten by Bergens (not modern day Norwegian Fjord subjects; big monster types) in an annual festival, whose only single piece of lifelong happiness relies on their ingestion of our heroes. When the trolls escape, the whole of the limited Bergen happiness condition is destroyed and they are forced to live their lives in infinite misery (welcome to the next 90 minute of your life). When ousted Bergen chef (Baranski) discovers the whereabouts of the new Troll world thanks to Poppy’s (Kendricks) overly exuberant party, she steals a few juicy members to take back for her king to feast on, and bring happiness back to Bergenland.

The animation is lovely; a patchwork, fluffy, at times mesmeric world of charming yet creepy wooliness. Imagine something your gran would create if she grew up with Photoshop rather than needlework and occasionally took ecstasy. The fangy spiders are both scary and adorable, the Burgens intrinsically nasty but cuddly. But none of it really matters, because it’s almost impossible for the story to really grasp you. It’s just utterly, unbelievably annoying. You want Poppy to get eaten for the entire film. Her feistiness is unbearable throughout. Branch (Timberlake)’s negativity should act as a welcome polarity, yet his pessimism becomes more annoying than the positivity he is opposing. It’s impossible to side with anyone here.

For a U certificate, it is quite scary, and younger viewers may not appreciate the full screen terror of the Bergen’s evil satisfaction, yet slightly older viewers may actually get bored. This is where Trolls really falls down; it is utterly impossible to work out what age group or audience it is designed for.

Trolls is a lazy conveyor belt effort from a major studio that could do a lot better. Why some executive decided to attempt to invigorate a brand which has almost no positive nostalgia from those who were there, and no knowledge at all from those who weren’t, is baffling. Why not try the Boil in a Bag trilogy, or Panini sticker meltdown? It’s got to be better than this rubbish.

2 / 10