DreamWorks’ new film is titled Trolls. The newly released teaser trailer for the upcoming animated film would have you believe that it was so titled because the plot revolves around a group of living troll dolls, the toy fad modeled after Danish figurines that first attained popularity in America in the ’60s and became a symbol of kitsch during the ’80s. However, having just seen this new trailer, it seems equally likely that DreamWorks executives selected that title to court ticket sales from confused folks who believe it to be a sequel to Laika’s delightful The Boxtrolls, with a Furious 7-style shortened title. Or even more probably, the DreamWorks team intended ‘troll’ in the neo-vernacular sense, as in the verb meaning ‘to antagonize someone else just for kicks.’
The trailer for Trolls is DreamWorks’ greatest troll to date, somehow managing to encapsulate the most irritating aspects of the animation studio’s productions in a minute flat. The names of Anna Kendrick and Justin Timberlake pass by to hint at the promise of a good time with plenty of throaty musical numbers, but this is only misdirection for the volley of aggression to come. It’s got the requisite song selection nakedly courting zeitgeisty youth interest, but succeeding only in creating a creepy juxtaposition between childlike imagery and Atlanta strip club music. (How many of the children in Trolls’ intended audience do DreamWorks executives think will see this and respond, “These trolls know how to do the Nae Nae, and are accordingly very cool. Irreverent, even. No siree, these are not my father’s trolls! Mom, Dad, this is a can’t-miss cinematic event. You’re bringing me.”)
Twerking trolls notwithstanding, there remains the perplexing final ‘joke’ in the clip, wherein some offscreen monster appears to eat one of the trolls. It all takes place out of frame, but it’s still a pretty ballsy move for DreamWorks to include one of the main characters dying and getting devoured right up front like that. For some extremely unfortunate children, this will be their first introduction to the realities of death. As if parents weren’t aggravated enough over the animated troll ass-shaking, the teaser also acquainted their kids with mortality. Ah, DreamWorks. Never change.
Trolls comes to theaters in November.