Review: Christine Baranski's character, Chef, steals the show in 'Trolls'

Secret ending? Yes, and the credits are fun to watch.

Running time: 93 minutes (~1.5 hours)

“Trolls” is a 3D animated comedy adventure musical based on the eponymous toy brand. A race of tiny Trolls face certain extinction when a race of large giants, the Bergens, discover that eating Trolls brings happiness to them. It features the voice talents of Anna Kendrick (Poppy), Justin Timberlake (Branch), Zooey Deschanel (Bridget), Russell Brand (Creek), Christine Baranski (Chef), John Cleese (King Gristle Sr), and Christopher Mintz-Plasse (Prince Gristle Jr). It is, surprisingly, rated PG.

“Trolls” could almost be a Disney film, what with characters breaking out into song upon the slightest provocation and the saccharine power of friendship infusing every element of the plot. And it’s rather creative with how the Trolls use their super powers (hint: it’s the hair). It’s just that it lacks that special quality, that sincerity and heart, which would elevate it from being an adequate film to a spectacular one.


Chef steals the show with her barely concealed contempt

Chef (Christine Baranski) is one sarcastic diva that thoroughly delights in her wickedness. Her sarcasm and disgust for everyone around her, including the Bergens, makes her an entertaining villainess to watch. Although you know she despises her own race, she can’t help but want to be accepted and taken back into their ranks. This conflict between her need for love and her hate for the Bergens gives an odd, but interesting dimension to her, and here’s to hoping she returns in the inevitable sequel.

Colourful and cute

There’s so much colour in the film that it’s like they spilled on a rainbow on everything. It can get pretty psychedelic at times, though the colours thankfully don’t clash in garish ways. The Trolls are also cutened up from the original creepy-looking toys, and look quite huggable. The Bergens are another story though, but then again, they are the antagonists.


Conflict is resolved too easily

When the climactic confrontation is literally resolved through a song, like every other conflict in the film, it becomes a trite resolution. You wonder why the Trolls didn’t sing their way to freedom at the beginning of the film, since that’s all it takes for everyone to live happily ever after. For a film that uses a convoluted plot to get people to fall in love, the ending was a sloppy, lazy affair.

Bergens look hideous

The Bergens look horrible. And the two central Bergens, the ones we spend most of the film with, look even uglier than the other random Bergens we see on the street. It’s no wonder they can’t find happiness if they look so terrible. Couldn’t they have taken a leaf from “Shrek” when it comes to designing cute monsters?

One dimensional characters

Virtually all the protagonists are defined by one single character trait, which conveniently doubles up as their super power. The only protagonist who comes remotely close to having some development is Branch (Justin Timberlake). That’s why Chef steals the show — she has very little competition to deal with.

“Trolls” is an amusing attempt to give a story to a decades-old franchise, but plot and character are lacking.

Should you watch this if it’s free? Yes.

Should you watch this at weekday movie ticket prices? If you like animated features.

Score: 2.5/5

“Trolls” opens in cinemas:
- 3 November 2016 (Singapore)
- 3 November 2016 (Malaysia)
- 2 November 2016 (Philippines)

Marcus Goh is a Singapore television scriptwriter. He’s also a Transformers enthusiast and avid pop culture scholar. He Tweets/Instagrams at Optimarcus and writes at The views expressed are his own.