About The Film
FIND YOUR HAPPY PLACE
TROLLS can be enjoyed by youngsters as a unique world rich with unforgettable
characters, music, humor, adventure and color; as well as by adults, for whom
the film's overarching theme of the search for happiness will resonate long
after the end credits have rolled.
Indeed, the Trolls' all-singing, all-dancing, all-hugging world is all about
happiness, which infuses every frame of the film. TROLLS explores how we treat
others and, more importantly, how we treat ourselves. Its emotion-charged
message is that happiness comes from within, and can be a powerful and
infectious force when it's spread.
That's a potent and relevant idea, especially in today's world, which has
largely given way to negativity, fear and imbalance. The story of TROLLS
suggests that each of us can bring change through positive thinking and actions,
while highlighting the importance of doing the right thing, even-or
especially-when facing formidable challenges.
Happiness was foremost in the minds of TROLLS director Mike Mitchell and
co-director Walt Dohrn, even during the earliest stages of story discussions
with screenwriters/co-producers Jonathan Aibel and Glenn Berger and producer
The two filmmakers had worked together on DreamWorks Animation's blockbuster
Shrek franchise, and their familiarity with the beloved ogres of that world led
them to their distant cousins, the Trolls.
Their research into Troll lore, which sprang from Scandinavian mythology,
revealed that Trolls came in myriad shapes and sizes, from monstrous giants to
tiny creatures who granted wishes. As DreamWorks had done with Shrek, Mitchell
and Dohrn decided to adapt the Trolls mythology to create a new universe and set
The filmmakers note that they did embrace one aspect of previous Trolls history.
"We were fascinated by how these creatures were originally scary-ugly and
evolved over time into being cute-ugly," says Mitchell. "In the 1970s they
became a symbol for happiness."
Adds Dohrn: "Their simplicity and imperfections were relatable and made people
As they continued their explorations of all things Troll, Mitchell and Dohrn
zeroed in on the motifs of happiness and optimism, and their imaginations
"Those ideas compelled us, as did the opportunity to create a story and
mythology from scratch," says Dohrn. "We decided it was time to start spreading
some joy again. Mike and I had a blank slate, from which we could create
anything with these characters, their story and their environments. With
happiness as a guidepost, we wanted to create a film with a mix of fun,
adventure, heart, music, color and textures."
In many ways, says producer Gina Shay, another of Mitchell and Dohrn's Shrek
franchise alumna, TROLLS hearkens back to the 1970s, a time "when there was this
feeling of freedom; disco, pop and dance music was everywhere; and everybody
seemed to be roller skating. We wanted the Trolls to reflect that joy in their
society. They're also very peaceful."
The Trolls even have a special kind of watch that reminds them to hug every hour
on the hour. No matter what they're doing, when the watch blooms, it's "hug
time." Notes Mitchell: "Part of being happy is connecting with others, and what
better way to show that than with a hug."
"On the other hand, the Trolls' neighbors, the Bergens, are neither enlightened
nor peaceful," Shay notes. "So the Trolls must try to apply that '70s feeling to
the Bergens and teach them that happiness comes from within, and that you can
find it in many different ways." That's no easy task because the Bergens lack
harmony and joy and can find happiness only through outward, more harmful means.
Their bliss is less in their control, and less satisfying when it's achieved.
THE ADVENTURE BEGINS
With that through line of happiness in place, Mitchell and Dohrn began mapping
out the story, enlisting the help of the screenwriting team of Jonathan Aibel
and Glenn Berger, who had been the architects of another animated film universe,
having written the three Kung Fu Panda blockbusters for DreamWorks Animation.
Berger calls the new assignment "a real creative change of pace, and so much
fun." Aibel adds that "the biggest gift to us as writers on TROLLS is its very
premise. We started with the world's most optimistic character and the world's
most pessimistic, and then launched them on a road trip."
TROLLS opens, of course, on an upbeat note, depicting how the Trolls live to
sing, dance and hug; dance, hug and sing...well, you get it.
After an action-packed backstory that depicts Troll King Peppy's (Jeffrey Tambor)
heroic rescue of his people, who had been captured by the Bergens, and the
setting up of a new Trolls home in the forest, we meet Peppy's now grown
daughter, Poppy, who leads a celebration because...they really love to celebrate!
Unfortunately, Poppy and the Trolls' non-stop revelry attracts the attention of
the Bergens, and the Trolls' twenty year period of freedom from their unhappy
neighbors comes to an end when the ever-scheming Bergen, Chef (Christine
Baranski), nabs Poppy's friends and whisks them away to Bergen Town.
With nowhere else to turn, Poppy seeks the help of the only Troll who knows how
to find Bergen Town-the always prepared, overly cautious and decidedly unhappy
Branch (Justin Timberlake). Branch is the only Troll who doesn't sing or dance,
and he never, ever, hugs.
To rescue Poppy's friends from a less-than-happy fate, she and Branch must
journey to the dangerous world of the Bergens. Along the way, Poppy and Branch
hit every imaginable obstacle. At a critical juncture, the power of positive
thinking seems to fail Poppy, who despairs and loses her resolve. Negativity,
like happiness, is contagious, so when Poppy falters, so do her friends. It
falls on the least likely member of the group to bring happiness back to the
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