Trolls 2

Universal Pictures

Quarantined families received a pleasant surprise on April 10 when Universal Pictures released “Trolls 2: World Tour” on multiple streaming platforms including YouTube, Amazon Prime Video, iTunes/Apple TV and Google Play for a flat rate of $19.99. 

“Trolls 2: World Tour” is the first animated movie to be released for first-screenings online during the pandemic.

The movie begins like “Trolls,” the first movie in the franchise, with narration regarding the fantastical trolls universe. Only this time, viewers learn that the trolls’ world is broken up into regions that represent subgenres of music: pop, hard rock, techno, country, classical and funk, with other non-land-owning trolls whose lives are devoted to K-pop, yodeling and reggaeton. Although the trolls were once unified, they split up because the pop trolls wanted to make pop the one true form of music.

The reason for this divide is unknown to Poppy, voiced by Anna Kendrick, and her companion Branch, voiced by Justin Timberlake, who previously believed the pop trolls were the only trolls in their world. They discover that Barb, voiced by Rachel Bloom, is trying to unify all the trolls. They set off, trying to track down Barb and learn her true intentions. 

When they discover that Barb is trying to force all trolls into adopting her rock ‘n’ roll lifestyle, Poppy and Branch decide to put a stop to Barb’s plan and let the trolls celebrate whichever genre of music they like.

This sequel includes compelling characters, new songs, recreated popular hits and themes of individualism and respecting other cultures. 

“Trolls 2: World Tour” touches on another theme that deserves appreciation: fostering unity while acknowledging diversity. The film embraces the idea that everyone is different. People have different beliefs, interests and habits, but they can still stand together as one, especially in times of hardship — times that many people are living through now.. It’s important for viewers to remember that their differences can lead to harmony —  a concept that “Trolls 2: World Tour” illustrates nicely.

It is a film that can be enjoyed by people of all ages, including 28-year-old CSUF alumna Erica Rodriguez, who purchased the movie via Google Play and watched from her home. A fan of the first movie and an avid lover of musicals, Rodriguez enjoyed the tracks from various genres. 

However, the sequel stumbled by letting the movie continue to be dominated by pop songs. The majority of songs in both the original movie and “Trolls 2: World Tour” are pop, and while they are catchy and fun, the film lacks representation for genres such as country, classical and hip-hop. The final song at the movie’s climax tries to blend all the genres together, but it gives off a “We are the World” vibe that misses the mark.

There were criticisms of the movie among fans who believed that the song at the climax of the movie, “Just Sing,” was not up to par with Timberlake’s original hit “Can’t Stop the Feeling!” from the first movie, Rodriguez said. 

“I did enjoy the original song from the first movie,” Rodriguez said. “I didn’t mind that they made an original one for the second movie. I didn’t like it as much, but I am glad that they went with popular music versus trying to recreate everything original.”

The writers made a smart choice not to reuse too many characters from the first film, giving “Trolls 2: World Tour” a different flavor than fans are used to. New characters and storylines revitalized the franchise, ensuring that the sequel was not riding the coattails of the first “Trolls.”  

“Trolls 2: World Tour” was preceded by a moderately successful release of the first “Trolls” movie in 2016, which grossed $153 million domestic and $347 million worldwide on a $125 million budget. With a budget of $90 million, it is yet to be seen whether the sequel will exceed the gross earnings of the first movie, but Universal has reported that it was their biggest opening weekend for a digital release ever. 

“Trolls 2: World Tour” is a welcome break from the monotony of quarantine life, and while it did not hit every mark, it certainly made for a great viewing experience during these chaotic times.

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