Is 'Trolls' worth the download? It depends on how bored you are

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Music snobbery is making a comeback.

On the heels of the excellent serial remake of "High Fidelity," about a tasteful Brooklyn record store owner, comes "Trolls World Tour," in which different pixie clans each representing a music genre vie for sonic domination. Both are quaint in their own way, pretending that our musical borders didn't years ago disintegrate into a digital soup.

"Trolls World Tour," a sequel to the 2016 DreamWorks original, had been planned for theatrical release before the coronavirus pandemic. On Friday, Universal Pictures instead released it straight into the home, as a $19.99 digital rental — a rare breaking of the theatrical release window by a major studio.

That makes "Trolls World Tour" a kind of trial balloon, albeit a very glittery one. Is it worth it? That may depend on just how bored your housebound kids are. It is, at least, a shiny new object when there are few about.

Directed by Walt Dohrn, with co-director David P. Smith, "Trolls World Tour" is a sped up version of the jukebox musical. It runs through so many songs that it might be better called a Spotify musical, with infinite skips.

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Both "Trolls" movies can be hard to look at. They're so garishly colored that I'd recommend dimming your TV set. But when they're not too loud and you've sufficiently shielded your eyes, their sugary highs are pleasant enough and occasionally tuneful. An animated movie can do worse than indoctrinate another generation to the joys of Earth, Wind and Fire's "September."

In "World Tour," our original clan, including Poppy (Anna Kendrick) and Branch (Justin Timberlake), discover a wider world of trolls. The trolls we know believe in the power of pop, but it turns out there are others out there devoted to techno, classical, country, funk and rock. There are even other pockets they find along the way, too, including those for hip-hop, Reggaeton and even dedicated yodelers. (Unfortunately, there are no cameos for Prog Rock or Crunk.)

It's the Rock Trolls that start the trouble in "World Tour." Their leader, Queen Barb (Rachel Bloom), sets out to dominate the other groups. Armed with heavy-metal power chords and Metallica-esque bombast, Queen Barb plots a rock reign to drown out the other styles.

The plot gives "World Tour" an opportunity to cycle through countless hits, and it does so so speedily that the film often feels less like a story than an impatient, candy-colored battle of the bands. When it slows down, and allows more than a snippet of a song, "Trolls World Tour" is more enjoyable. There's a good hip-hop interlude and a fine Kelly Clarkson country ballad.

Both "Trolls" movies exuberantly exalt the glories of diversity, and maybe some young ones will get a decent primer on a musical landscape far more vast than Kidz Bop. But "World Tour" can also sound like a bad Grammy medley that puts every genre into a blender until all the taste is rung out.


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