For the record, according to Scandinavian legend, trolls are neither cute and happy nor do they run around singing. According to J.R.R. Tolkien, trolls are evil, ugly and stupid creatures of great strength. Somewhere along the line, some guy named Tom Dam created a goofy looking doll with Larry King hair and called it a troll.


Those troll dolls became fairly popular in the 1960s and by the 1990's they earned some television time - though it was without permission by the Dam company - and they were popular once again. A few years ago, Dreamworks bought the Dam company outright and voila... now we have the "Trolls" movie based on the toys that look nothing like trolls.


If you hunt around, you'll find old time ceramic trolls for around $15, maybe more. They are closer to the Scandinavian version instead of the Dam version. The trolls that live under bridges were popular at one time; they didn't sing and dance either and had a tendency to eat people who didn't pay bridge toll. Dreamworks was not about to make a film about bridge trolls eating people.

Instead Dreamworks locked in on the Larry King looking versions that they feel may make a comeback. The target audience: young children. Young children who might think these new trolls are cute, funny... and probably sing.


The Erica Rivinoja, Jonathan Aibel and Glenn Gergen story is based on the Dam trolls and revolves around a village of tiny trolls living happily in the forest, singing and dancing. They are so happy they are an annoyance to the Bergens, bigger ogre-like critters who only find happiness by eating trolls. At this point, the film seems like it might be fun to watch - with the trolls being eaten and such.


But no, the trolls escape and move far, far away from the Bergen's so they can go back to singing and dancing and the Bergens can go back to being miserable. The trolls escape is orchestrated by the king (Jeffrey Timbor) to save his ultra-happy daughter Poppy (Anna Kendrick) who is the happiest troll of all.

Through an error in happiness by Poppy, the trolls get discovered by the Bergen chef (Christine Baranski) who captures a few to present to her King Gristle (Christopher Mintz-Plasse) who has never tasted a troll and looks forward to eating one so he can experience happiness.


To foil the chef's plan, Poppy and a grouchy troll named Branch (Justin Timberlake) set out Bergenville to rescue their captured troll friends. Since Anna and Justin are the only two actors who can justifiably sing, they lead just about every song in the film and most of those songs will be belted out during their rescue trip. One of the song renderings was admittedly funny - The Sound of Silence scene is quite funny, but only adults will get it.


The appeal to adults begins and ends with the songs borrowed from Earth Wind and Fire, Cindy Lauper, Simon and Garfunkel and other oldies artists. Children won't give a hoot because the visual presentation is bright and shiny colors along with purposed glitter emitted by one of the trolls.


The timing, of course, is for the upcoming gift giving season. Dreamworks is hopeful that young children will like the film enough to annoy their parents in buying some of the pre-packaged Trolls toys and accessories sold by Dreamworks and available in stores everywhere.


To their credit, Anna and Justin do sound great together and the soundtrack should do fairly well. However the story is pointless and shallow and a solid indication that Dreamworks still has a lot of work to do to become a decent animator.


"Trolls" is a less than mediocre film targeted to children under the age of seven-ish. They are the only ones who wouldn't notice how pathetic the story is.   -- GEOFF BURTON