Trolls 3 Band Together; Watch It Work!

After a surprisingly deep second installment, Trolls 3 Band Together proves the franchise’s quality only goes up as it goes on. On top of being entertaining, it also has the heartwarming charm of its predecessors and even more impressive animation and sequences compared to them, making it a true standout even among a decent year for the medium.

Trolls 3 begins with a scene showing Branch’s (Justin Timeberlake) past as a member of Brozone, a boy band made up of him and his brothers, which falls apart after a failed performance and leaves Branch with only his grandmother, who famously later got eaten. We then cut into the wedding preparations of King Gristle Jr. and Bridget, which is quickly interrupted by Branch’s long-lost brother, John Dory (Eric André) who needs his help going to save their other brother, Floyd (Troye Sivan). The issue is that Floyd was captured by two faux-singers who absorb his talent to keep up the ruse of their careers. If this goes on too long, he will both have no talent left and will also die. Poppy (Anna Kendrick), ever the cheerleader, encourages Branch to go help him get their brothers and re-form Brozone so they can find and save Floyd by performing the perfect family harmony; the only thing to free him from his diamond-glass prison. Apparently, diamond-tipped tools are nonexistent in the Trolls universe, or perhaps too big for them to operate. During the adventure, we learn more of Branch’s past and the significance of family bonds as we meet his brothers as well as Vida (Camila Cabello), Poppy’s long-lost sister (there seems to be a theme here).

With the second installment being good and covering surprisingly mature material regarding historical revisionism, fans of the franchise were curious and excited about what the latest addition to the franchise would bring. And they, as well as viewers overall, have been pleased, with the film grossing 202.5 million on a 95 million budget and getting a Rotten Tomatoes score of 92% with audiences. Critics were less of a fan, only giving it 60% but recognizing in their reviews that the things it does well, it excels at.

Much like the first film, the third is primarily a jukebox musical, though has tweaked the formula a bit in that regard by adding more original tracks. One of the tracks is “Brozone’s Back”, an homage and sort of mashup of several different popular boyband songs. This includes, but is not limited to: “Candy Girl” by New Edition, “Motownphilly” by Boyz II Men, “I Want You Back” by NSYNC, and more. Speaking of Justin Timberlake’s origins, the film has also managed to get NSYNC back together, at least for a quick scene and end song. Along with the music, the dialogue has also evolved, with the banter between characters being top notch and the feature having no shortage of one liners and quips.

One of the most engaging parts of Trolls 3 has to be the villains: a sister and brother pop star duo named Velvet and Veneer, respectively. Like most other species in the Trolls universe, they have unique inspirations from real life, based on rubber hose cartoons seen in early 1900s animation as well as a possible influence from Betty Spaghetty toys from the 90s. During the film, they steal every scene they’re in, with one in particular being used as a popular meme across social media platforms for a good week; a decent lifetime for a meme in the current social media sphere. Specifically towards the end, they’re highly prominent in a scene that both has an amazing bit of soundtrack to it and seems almost a modern translation of the Shrek 2 “I Need a Hero” sequence. They’re dramatic, over-the-top, and the very stereotype of snobby, spoiled, and undeserving popstars; bad guys you can’t help but love. They’re also animated in a very visually interesting way, a 3D rendition of that aforementioned rubber hose style, which I and others quite liked.

I’ve, personally, been a fan of the Trolls series since the second installment, finding it fun and charming while also having well-articulated and sometimes mature themes (grief/survivor’s guilt and poor coping, toxic positivity, historical revisionism, recognizing that we’re all different and that’s okay and not letting it divide us) for the young target demographic it has. Not to mention, the creativity of the world itself with everything being made up of arts and crafts supplies. This is something that seems obvious when you first watch it, but even more impressive when you go back with this fact in mind. Water made up of orbeez, the ground being patched-together felt, all put together to make for an engaging and well-crafted universe not often seen even in live-action works aimed at older audiences.

It is clear that as the Trolls franchise has grown, so has the love the people who work on them have for it. From the music, to the universe design, to the characters themselves, each movie only improves upon the last, a rarity with sequels, even more so for animated ones, which have a special stereotype about being bad when pitted against live-action ones. In fact, it wouldn’t be totally incorrect to say that Trolls 3 is part of what looks to be a new renaissance in animated children’s movies overall, with this film and others being more daring in both their approaches, themes, and artistic techniques. 

Trolls 3 is available for digital purchase on Amazon, YouTube, Google Play, and Apple TV, and for streaming on Peacock in March.

Mia Berrios

Mia Berrios is an undergraduate at Rowan University, and majoring in English with a minor in creative writing. She's interested in many different parts of pop culture from video games to movies, as well as in writing and editing.