Film review: family connection and fun

February 7, 2024

Theatrical release poster

Exposure’s autistic author, Max Ferreira reviews Dreamworks’ latest animation and how it relates to young people like him

When I saw the trailer for Trolls Band Together (Trolls 3), I was curious to check out the animated franchise, starting with the first Trolls movie, based on the Danish Good Luck Troll dolls created by Thomas Dam.

Trolls tells the story of pop-musical trolls, getting captured by evil chef Bergen. It’s up to Poppy (Anna Kendrick) and Branch (Justin Timberlake) to rescue them before the Bergens eat them, which gives them happiness.

I found Trolls surprisingly good, a bit like The Smurfs but different.

From there, I’ve watched Trolls World Tour (Trolls 2), the Holiday TV specials and the animated Netflix series Trolls: The Beat Goes On.

When Trolls: Band Together came out in the cinema I was keen the see the next musical adventure in the Trolls universe. See trailer below.

The threequel is about Branch’s secret past being revealed, when an unknown Troll called John Dory (Eric André) appears out of nowhere.

To the Trolls’ surprise, John Dory is Branch’s long lost brother; they were part of the popular boyband called Brozone that split up when Branch was a young troll.

John Dory is on a mission to find the other band members/brothers, Clay (Kid Cudi) and Spruce (Daveed Diggs) in order to rescue Brozone member Floyd (Troye Sivan), who has been kidnapped in Mount Rageous by pop villains Velvet (Amy Schumer) and Veneer (Andrew Rannells).

So Branch, Poppy and Tiny Diamond (Kenan Thompson) agree to help John Dory find the band members, and they come across some unexpected surprises along the way.

According to film producer, Gina Shay, “We decided to make a family tree kind of movie to reveal much more about our characters and to understand what’s underneath them all and what the sum of their parts are. Yeah, Branch goes through a lot in this film.”

The Trolls movies show what happen to young people in reality, like finding happiness, accepting different backgrounds and overcoming barriers

Director/actor Walt Dohrn added, “There’s a nod to boybands and the 90s aesthetic. I think we all wanted to know, after all these movies, how did Branch become the person he is?”

In common with other sequels by Dreamworks, they continue the existing story, with questions answered in the process. For example Shrek, from the namesake film series learns there’s more in the world than himself.

The Trolls movies also illustrate events that happen to young people in reality, like finding happiness, accepting different backgrounds and overcoming barriers.

As a family movie I do like the encouraging quotes said by Poppy in the film. For example in a scene when they near Mount Rageous, she said to Branch, “I have been on your side from the moment we met and you’ve been by mine. And I’m not going anywhere, unless it’s with you.”

This shows Branch and Poppy have came a long way since the first Trolls movie in 2016, which reflects their friendship and how it leads to achieving many missions and challenges. Branch might be overcautious, sarcastic and grouchy but, through his adventures with Poppy and the other Trolls, he comes out of his comfort zone and becomes a better person.

No matter who you are, having friends and family is the important gift to help us along the way

As a young person with autism, a lifelong developmental disability, I can relate to Branch. I am sensitive to my surroundings, struggle with social interaction and scared of changes. But with my family’s help I slowly came out of my shell, gaining confidence and experience, such as writing and drawing about my autism for Exposure.

From start to end I really enjoyed Trolls Band Together. It’s touching and creative. I also like the musical elements in the film, such as the recently released song called Better Place by NSYNC.

What I learned is, no matter who you are, having friends and family is the important gift to help us along the way. I highly recommend the movie for anyone to check it out.

Like other animated films I’ve watched the Trolls provide good entertainment, life lessons and characters young people can connect with, like Po from Kung Fu Panda or Eep from The Croods.

If you want to learn more about Trolls and all the other films by Dreamworks check out their website.

Trolls Band Together is currently available on Amazon Prime Video and is expected to be ready for streaming in March 2024.