Getting Back In Sync: “Trolls: Band Together” Review

I’ll start by saying that I’ve only seen one Trolls movie before this screening of the third movie in the series. With Trolls, it seemed like a fairly inoffensive, kid-friendly jukebox musical, even if they did butcher Gorillaz’ “Clint Eastwood” for one scene. Of course, who didn’t hear “Can’t Stop the Feeling” on the radio when the movie was first released in cinemas?

With the second movie, Trolls: World Tour, the release around 2020 says all that it needs to about why I couldn’t get to the cinema to see it and with home releases, my time was split away from watching another sequel in a kids’ franchise. So, why Band Together? Well, with this movie being the catalyst of *NYSNC getting back together to record new music this year, I figured I’d see how it is for a fun, family-friendly cinema experience. Boy bands bring back a certain nostalgia from my childhood that isn’t easy to ignore.

Trolls: Band Together takes place after the events of the first two movies with a Bergen wedding between Gristle and Bridget, demonstrating the peace between the Bergens and the Trolls. However, the movie focuses more on Branch, the down-to-earth Troll, and his background with a well-publicized boy band named Brozone who happened to be him and his four brothers performing twenty years ago before going their separate ways. It turns out that Floyd, Branch’s sensitive brother, has been captured and the brothers need to reunite to save him from a dastardly pop duo, with Poppy, the happy, optimistic now Queen of the Trolls, by Branch’s side.

Branch refusing the "hero's call" at first from his eldest brother, John Dory with Poppy by his side.
Branch refuses the “hero’s call” at first from his eldest brother, John Dory, with Poppy by his side.

This journey goes about how you would expect with John Dory, Branch’s eldest brother, to lead the party to Spruce, the heartthrob, and Clay, the fun one, to reunite the brother once again to save their sibling in distress. While on this road trip, Poppy also encounters Viva, a similarly pink-coloured Troll with a secret past with Poppy, which adds a similar element to the goal of the brothers’ reunion. While the brothers have all gone their own ways, or in Branch’s case, helped save the world from the “rockalypse” in World Tour, they’ve also built their own lives and started their own families away from the group. However, in the end, their brotherly bond brings it all back to them for a touching reunion and climatic musical showdown against the fraudulent pop artists who captured Floyd.

The movie focuses on Branch’s emotions most of all, which with how things broke up between his brothers is something that he’s not comfortable sharing with the world or even Poppy. There’s strong character development with Branch from what I can tell from the first movie and it gives a fair motivation to the brotherly road trip with Branch coming to terms with his past with his family and himself, putting himself in a “Better Place” so-to-speak. The relationship between Branch and Floyd, given his sensitivity in the family and the boy band, is refreshing to see such a natural brotherly bond on screen, and the contrast between them and John Dory, as the oldest, demonstrates just how complicated family can be, but how they are always there for you as well.

Poppy and Viva meet while recruiting Clay on their quest.
Poppy and Viva meet while recruiting Clay on their quest.

The other half of the story is Poppy, sharing the spotlight with Branch’s goal with his brothers. It’s no surprise that a music-loving Troll like Poppy knew about Brozone even before finding out that Branch was in the group with his brothers. However, the thing that brings Poppy along for the ride is how much she yearns for a family like Branch’s other than her and her father, being the retired King of the Trolls, and how much she wishes she had a sister other than the strong friendship she has with Bridget the Bergen with helping her as her right-hand girl for her wedding. Not-so-subtly, this is where Viva comes into play, which even with the twist coming from a mile away doesn’t pay off as much as the advertising of a big name like Camila Cabello would have you believe. Still, it was a necessary part to have Poppy, the star of the series, not fade into the background while Branch goes on his heartfelt road trip with his brothers.

There is also the following the wedding and subsequent honeymoon of Gristle and Bridget, which also seems like a strange use of time in the movie. This does tie into the main narrative fairly smoothly and, adult-themed references aside, it’s not the worst thing about a musical mostly aimed at children.

Troll hair of five secret Trolls
I wonder who these five star-studded Trolls are?

Overall, it’s a fun 90 minutes filled with danceable renditions of songs for kids and adults to enjoy. I do question the use of Lizzo’s “Good as Hell” but at the same time, it’s not the first time that song has been used for a children’s media product and it won’t be the last. Nothing too spectacular, but I would be silly to expect cinematic brilliance from a brightly-coloured third entry into an established, toyetic series.

For those wondering how *NSYNC plays into the movie, their new song by frontman Justin Timberlake, who also does the voice of Branch, is used in the climax with the group reunited in their Trollsonas to lead into the credits, so you’ll have to stay through the whole movie to scratch that early 2000s boy band itch, which is a good reward for a decent family-friendly narrative.

I give Trolls: Band Together a score of three out of five tickets. It’s a fun, short movie with some catchy song performances and a lot of heart, but nothing too noteworthy in its genre.

Trolls: Band Together will be in U.S. cinemas on November 17th.

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