Full of activity, music and color, “Trolls” is kind of an activity center for the mind and ears.
Troll dolls, you may know, have been around since their creation by a Danish woodcutter named Thomas Dam in 1959. They were a huge fad in the United State in the 1960s, and have gained and waned in popularity waves since then.
The squat, long-haired, big-eyed dolls provide the look of the characters in this animated musical (these aren’t the kinds of “trolls” that lurk on social media). In 2013, DreamWorks Animation announced that it purchased the Troll doll brand from the Dam company.
The tale is told partly in retrospect. The Trolls are depicted as colorful, beautifully voiced creatures who love to play, sing, dance and hug — they love to hug so often, in fact, that timers go off to remind them when they should. Their enemies were the Bergens, giants with little color and no pleasure in their drab existence.
The Bergens have discovered that the only way they can be happy is to — gasp! — eat a troll, thereby consuming the little creature’s joy. Although quite a few Trolls are held in captivity pending the Bergens’ “Trollstice” observance, they escape and begin lives anew far from the grouchy, dangerous Bergens.
The child who was supposed to eat the troll years before has grown up to be a sullen (what else?) teenager: King Gristle Jr. (Christopher Mintz-Plasse). He longs for happiness, so a Bergen named Chef (voice of Christine Baranski) has promised that she will procure a Troll for him to consume.
Meanwhile, Princess Poppy (Anna Kendrick) leads the other Trolls in singing and partying. She reassures the dreary Branch (Justin Timberlake), who constantly worries about the possible approach of the Bergens, that there’s nothing to be concerned about.
It turns out, of course, that Branch has every right to be anxious, and several of the little folk are Troll-napped.
They form a tenuous friendship with a Bergen who is a scullery maid (Zoey Deschanel) with a mad crush on Gristle. But will the Trolls be able to match-make to save their lives?
First, you should know I saw this in 3D, and really enjoyed it. A lot of times, 3D mutes the colors of whatever it’s supposed to enhance — not this time. It’s a riot of color and a frenzy of production numbers, from “September” to “True Colors,” that will have little ones singing along with their grandparents and parents.
On a more cerebral level, there’s a not-so-subtle message about finding happiness within oneself. And that’s a nice message to consider, regardless of one’s age or hair length.