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About The Film

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 Gina Shay.

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 of characters.

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 feel good."

As they continued their explorations of all things Troll, Mitchell and Dohrn zeroed in on the motifs of happiness and optimism, and their imaginations ignited.

"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.


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 Trolls.


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