“Trolls Band Together” nails the perfect harmony between musical numbers, character development and an exceptionally timed 90-minute adventure with plenty of spunk and nostalgia to appease all.
BroZone’s back, alright!
An important bulletin for my fellow millennial parents: boy bands are cool again. I repeat, boy bands are back!
In “Trolls Band Together,” the third installment in the “Trolls” feature film franchise, that fictional multi-hyphenate group is BroZone. Five Troll brothers with out-of-this-world voices and smooth dance moves make up this pop band. According to the film’s marketing, which heavily leans into the Taylor Swift phenomenon we’ve been experiencing all year, “we are in our Trolls era,” and it’s been quite some time since there’s been such a relatable children’s property for all age groups to enjoy.
I would be lying if I said I didn’t get chills when Justin Timberlake, as Branch broke out with a few lines from the *NSYNC classic, hit: “You’re all I ever wanted / You’re all I ever needed, yeahhhh.” The nostalgia – from the boy band formula of having the “leader,” the “sensitive one,” the “crazy one,” etc, to the unfortunate fashion choices like frosted tips and questionable performance attire – is nearly too adorable to relive.
Following 2020’s “Trolls World Tour,” which sent audiences on a sprawling, chaotic quest to nowhere, “Trolls Band Together” finally finds the right proportion of music to the storyline, harnessing the power of the Troll’s colorful, unique world by creating even more dazzling details, inventive new characters and a heartwarming tale of reunion and reconciliation.
Spoiler alert: A complicated family affair
Branch (Timberlake) and Princess Poppy (Anna Kendrick) are finally settled in their relationship when a revelation rocks their quiet lives: unbeknownst to Poppy, Branch was once the youngest member of a boy band group called BroZone, and the other members are his four long-lost biological brothers. He’s kept them a secret from his adoring girlfriend because, when the band broke up many years ago, it also broke his heart to lose communication with his family.
His eldest brother, John Dory (Eric Andre), jumps back into his life with urgent necessity. Floyd (Troye Sivan) has been kidnapped and held hostage by scheming pop sensations Velvet (Amy Schumer) and Veneer (Andrew Rannells), who are using his talent to bolster their fame and popularity by sucking his soul out of a perfume bottle prison cell before every live performance.
The only way to free Floyd is to shatter the nearly impenetrable diamond glass with “perfect harmony,” something they can only achieve with all five members of the band present.
With Tiny Diamond (Kenan Thompson) behind the wheel of Rhonda, an unidentifiable animal caravan, Poppy, Branch and John Dory seek out the other brothers. They find Spruce – now answering to Bruce – at the beachside wellness resort he owns with his wife and innumerable offspring. Clay (Kid Cudi) has joined an apocalyptic cult hiding away from the Bergens with his partner Viva (Camila Cabello), who, it turns out, is Poppy’s long-lost sister!
Velvet and Veneer are much ickier villains than Barb from “Trolls World Tour,” which makes their inevitable demise all the sweeter. The journey to get there is filled with several quick songs that, unlike films past, don’t linger too long. That was perhaps the number one problem “World Tour” had: it focused so heavily on the song line-up that the story came second. “Band Together” doesn’t make that mistake twice, focusing instead on Poppy and Branch’s journey to reconcile with their family and heal the trauma created by the long separation.
Featuring an original number called “Better Place,” the first song by *NSYNC in 20 years, “Trolls Band Together” is a throwback to another era for millions of adults who will appreciate its subtle jokes and commentary while giving kids in 2023 more of what they want: a heartfelt story about their favorite Trolls in a visually stunning and enchanting watch suitable for the whole family.
Know before you go
MPAA Rating: PG with some mild rude and suggestive humor
Recommended Age: 4+
Runtime: 92 minutes
Nightmare inducers: The villains, Velvet and Veneer, are certainly vain and vapid. What they attain in colorful hair and accessories, they lack in substance with a narrow-sighted plan to become famous pop stars. But they certainly won’t be scaring or traumatizing children, who may be more dazzled by their stylish performances on stage than intimidated by their flimsy plot to stardom. There are some mildly scary sequences, but the most fear-inducing aspect of the film is Floyd’s imprisonment, which may upset some young viewers as the troll grows increasingly weak and visibly closer to death.
Complex concepts and emotions: Family issues and in-fighting are the leading sources of conflict in this film. Young viewers with mirroring family lives may relate or be triggered more easily by the brothers’ constant bickering and growing estrangement, though insults never go too low or overly aggressive. Like the other “Trolls” movies, the difficult moments are counterbalanced with some rude or silly humor and mesmerizing, colorful animation.