It’s been a while since I saw a movie in the theater. Back when I was single, I usually saw a couple movies a month, but now that my favorite movie buddies live further away, and the Boy occasionally has child-duties on the weekend, it becomes more complicated getting out of the house and to the theater. I am beginning to truly understand how people can go months (even years?) between seeing movies in theaters.
But when you have older kids (or are child-adjacent, as I am), you may start seeing movies slightly more frequently – just not the kind that you were expecting or necessarily wanting to see yourself. Kids movies. I like to break up kids movies into three categories: first, there are movies targeted only at kids, and I can’t even think of one right now because they tend not to be made as much anymore. The second category is movies that look like they’re for kids, but whose main jokes are actually targeted at adults. I think of the movie Shrek – yeah, it’s a fun movie, but there’s more adult content in there than you’d realize, and tend to have a lot of body-processes-humor. For me, these kind of movies are inane and difficult to watch, because you feel so pandered to the entire time.
The last category is one that I think the second group is trying to be, and that is family-friendly movies that don’t talk down to anyone, and don’t come in with the baser humor. I like to think that the Pixar movies starting with Toy Story popularized this style, but you’ll see a lot of these coming from foreign animation companies as well (think: the Miyazaki films). I feel lucky that I got to see two fun movies from earlier in the year that also fit into this category (Zootopia and Finding Dory), so when the Boy said he wanted to take the girls to see a movie – and how about Trolls, I was worried. I had the feeling that it was going to be a category-2 movie – pandering to the adults and playing into potty humor with the kids. Instead, I was pleasantly surprised to find that it was solidly in category 3.
So – how do you get a movie that kids will enjoy that the adults do also? Part of it is the nostalgia factor regarding the Trolls themselves. People over the age of 28 likely remember the resurgence of Troll popularity in the mid-90s. I definitely had one. It was UGLY. But I remember it, and didn’t hate it. Kids don’t come in with the preconceived notions about Trolls, and it also helps that the movie makes them MUCH cuter than the original dolls.
The other thing it has on it’s side is the music. It’s an interesting combination of songs you’ll recognize and enjoy mashed up, and original pieces that are just completely whacked out, but in a good way. For example – the song “Get Back Up Again” is fun, but the visuals for it in the movie are amazingly trippy. A truly bizarre series of events that had the Boy and I looking at each other in the theater going, “HOW IS THIS ON THE SCREEN???”
Additionally, a lot of the troll creatures are just truly bizarre. The troll girls that are congenital twins through their hair? The glitter trolls who shoot sparkles out of their butts? The horse-shaped troll? And what even is Mr. Dinkles?
Luckily the story is fun, the music is enjoyable, and it’s a colorful, happy time at the movie theater. And if that’s not enough for you, the animation style is different than anything you’ve seen in a movie, with all the characters being very soft, and felt-y squishable. I saw it before the election, but I can see how if you were feeling down and needed a joyful distraction from the news of our nation, this might be the perfect escape.
Details: Trolls, written by Jonathan Aibel and Glenn Berger, directed by Mike Mitchell and Walt Dohrn. In theaters now.