3 Things Parents Should Know about Trolls Band Together

Branch is a troll with a secret past -- at least, it's a secret to many of his friends.

The secret: Branch and his brothers were once in a popular boy band, "BroZone." The craziest part? Branch's girlfriend, Poppy, is a fan of the classic band and didn't even know he was a member. Don't blame Poppy, though. Back then, Branch was virtually a baby in diapers. He was the youngest member of BroZone -- until it broke up. "They stopped being my brothers the day they walked out on me and never came back," he says.

A tragedy, though, has forced Branch and his long-lost brothers to reunite. It seems one of their own -- a brother, Floyd -- has been kidnapped.

Will the former members of BroZone find enough family harmony to rescue him?

The new animated movie Trolls Band Together (PG) follows the comical story of Branch, Poppy, and the rest of the crew.

Here are three things parents should know about it:

Photo credit: ©DreamWorks; used with permission.

1. It's All about Music

1. It's All about Music

Trolls World Tour is the third film in a music-centric animated franchise that began with the 2016 movie Trolls -- that one included Justin Timberlake's Oscar-nominated song "Can't Stop the Feeling" -- and was followed by Trolls World Tour (2020), which was released in the opening days of the pandemic and made most of its money through video-on-demand. All three movies featured Timberlake (Branch) and Anna Kendrick (Poppy) in lead roles.

All three movies also have included a combination of classic tunes and modern pop, which -- like the musical Sing franchise -- can be a mixture of good and bad. The good includes Sister Sledge's 1970s tune "We Are Family." The bad includes Lizzo's "Good As H-ll," which, unfortunately, is briefly sung by one of the characters. In between, we hear songs such as Dolly Parton's "9 To 5," the Backstreet Boys' "I Want You Back," and the Bee Gees' "Stayin' Alive."

Photo credit: ©DreamWorks; used with permission.

2. It's All about Family

2. It's All about Family

In the real world, bands often get back together to make extra cash. In Trolls World Tour, they get back together to save one of their own.

The film opens some two decades after the breakup of the band known as "BroZone," which included "Baby Branch" (think: a young Michael Jackson) and his brothers Floyd, John Dory, Spruce, and Clay. They went their separate ways -- one wanted a solo career -- but Floyd was subsequently kidnapped by the not-so-talented brother-sister singing tandem of "Velvet and Veneer," who harvest his magical powers so they can sing. (The film pokes fun at the pop music world when Velvet and Veneer receive a lifetime achievement award for their two months in the industry.)

To make matters worse, Floyd is being held hostage in a nearly impenetrable diamond spritzer vial that can only be broken by the so-called "perfect family harmony." That's where the former BroZone members enter the picture. Their plan is to find Floyd, hit that perfect note of harmony, and rescue him.

"We're getting the band back together," Poppy says.

Just underneath the music and laughs is a powerful message: Treat your family members like family. Cultivate those relationships. Don't lose contact.

"Family is irreplaceable," director Walt Dohrn told Crosswalk. "The movie also says that sometimes, being in a family is hard. We acknowledge that. But it doesn't matter how different you are, or you might not get along all the time -- there's [still] strength and power in a family."

The film also reminds us of the blessings of siblings. Branch has four brothers but hasn't seen them in years. By contract, Poppy has no sister -- and dreams of what they'd do together if she did.

Photo credit: ©DreamWorks; used with permission.

3. It Has a Few Sour Notes for Parents

3. It Has a Few Sour Notes for Parents

You've likely watched a supposed kid-friendly movie and walked away asking yourself: Why'd they insert edgy, adult jokes in the plot? That's Trolls Band Together.

It includes a subtle drug reference when a character known as Tiny Diamond sucks a ring pop pacifier and asks Branch, "You want some of this?" -- to which Branch responds, "No thanks, I can't get back on that train." Later in the film, though, Branch needs a boost of energy and partakes of the ring pop, telling Tiny Diamond, "Oh, that's good."

It includes mild language. (See below.) It also includes a handful of jokes about sensuality/sex. We watch as two Bergens get captured by Troll villagers and tied up. (Bergens, as you may remember, had a history of eating Trolls.) The female Bergen tells the male Bergen, "I didn't think we'd both find ourselves tied up on this honeymoon."

Moments later, she asks, "Would it be weird if we made out?" -- to which he answers, "It would be weird if we didn't." (They then kiss.)

Maybe the writers forgot the intended audience. Perhaps they think parents don't care. Of course, many parents do care.

Trolls Band Together has fun music with a solid message. It's just too bad it includes a few sour notes for families.

Trolls Band Together is rated PG for some mild rude and suggestive humor. Coarse language: OMG (1), single misuse of “God” (2), sucked/sucks (3), “oh my gosh” (3).

Entertainment rating: 3.5 out of 5 stars.

Family-friendly rating: 3.5 out of 5 stars.

Photo credit: ©DreamWorks; used with permission.

 

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