- The Washington Times - Tuesday, July 7, 2020

A musical sequel starring animated creatures with permanent bad hair days took a pandemic hit at theaters but arrives on ultra-high definition to offer families an evening of singalongs and laughs in Trolls World Tour: Dance Party Edition (Universal Studios Home Entertainment, Rated PG, 2.39:1 aspect ratio, 91 minutes, $44.98).

The tale reunites the trolls Poppy (Anna Kendrick), now queen of the pop kingdom, and pragmatic best friend Branch (Justin Timberlake) as they learn six different tribes of their species exist among six different kingdoms.

In a too-cute mythos twist, each tribe is devoted to six different kinds of music — rock, funk, techno, country, classical and pop.

When rocker Queen Barb (Rachel Bloom) sets out for world domination by collecting each tribes musical magical string, Poppy, Branch, Biggie (James Corden) and pet worm Mr. Dinkles travel the lands to unite the trolls and save the melodic tribes from Barb’s tidal wave of rock.

So other than making hard rock music trolls the bad guys in the story (not fair to us rockers), the humor and songs mix well and will capture younger fans’ imaginations.

And, you got to love the collection of creatures that features Chaz (Jamie Dornan), an easy-listening, smooth jazz bounty hunter troll that spews hypnotizing rose petals out of his clarinet.

In addition to the lead voices from Miss Kendrick, Mr. Timberlake and Miss Bloom, a star-studded voice cast from the music and entertainment industry also propels the film led by Kelly Clarkson as Sheriff Delta Dawn of the Country kingdom, George Clinton as King Quincy and Mary J. Blige as Queen Essence of the Funk Trolls, Ozzy Osbourne as Queen Barb’s dad King Thrash and Sam Rockwell as a yodeling country troll.

Also, the musical score exposes youngsters to mashed-up snippets of songs such as Ozzy’s “Crazy Train,” Heart’s “Barracuda,” the Scorpions’ “Rock You Like A Hurricane,” Cyndi Lauper’s “Girls Just Want to Have Fun,” Deee-Lite’s “Groove is in the Heart,” Patsy Cline’s “I Fall to Pieces” and George Clinton’s “Atomic Dog.”

Not only one of the prettiest animated films of recent years, “Trolls World Tour” even delivers a lesson to children that diversity and acceptance of others ultimately leads to universal harmony.

4K in action: Computer animation fans inspecting the detail of this meticulously crafted movie are treated to one of the best examples of what the UHD format with high dynamic range enhancements bring to the home entertainment screen.

Throughout, the brilliantly saturated and bright neon colors mixed with an abundance of glitter combine to scorch viewers’ eyeballs.

Although most of the dolls are not based on the original hard plastic design, a few do pop up. The three-dimensional characters look like plush children’s toys and Muppets, complete with felt costumes and that characteristic, oh-so-lifelike hair sprouting up from the heads and taking on a life of its own.

Textured items and fiber-rich fabrics also abound with a few examples including cotton candy and buttercream clouds, tinsel water, glitter sand dunes, felt scrapbook of the kingdoms, Riff the drummer’s knit cap, Delta’s embroidered banjo and burlap ground and quilted blanket mountains in the Country kingdom.

Best extras: Universal and Dreamworks unloads on the goodies starting with what the full title of the release promises viewers. Watch the movie again with the “dance party” mode turned on to get a karaoke-style overlay for every song with prompts to interact with the film.

They include being encouraged to play air instruments, practice dance steps and some takeover surprises as characters pop up on the screen.

For example, when an icon gets clicked by the user, Tiny Diamond (a new Troll to the series) stops by to throw glitter on the screen, or step-by-step instructions might appear for dancers to learn the pop hop or the waltz.

It’s worth noting that dancers might have a hard time following the steps that quickly appear during the movie mode so Dreamworks has added separate segments to watch away from the film to slowly replicate the moves.

Next, an optional commentary track with director Walt Dohrn, co-director David Smith and producer Gina Shay offers a deep dive into a film that took almost four years to complete.

The enthusiastic trio speaks throughout with plenty of laughs while mentioning production fodder such as the pop village was the most difficult to light due to all of the fuzz, the animation team went to a puppet camp for two weeks to learn about character movement in three dimensions, animators taught computers how to embroider and the rock village was an homage to “Mad Max” movies.

Finally, a collection of featurettes, deleted scenes, music videos and even a felt scrapbook-style animated short starring Tiny Diamond rounds out the extras.

Best of the bunch are an interactive map leading to concise overviews of each musical kingdom and a featurette looking at the producers and Mr. Timberlake putting together an all-star musical cast.

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