In “A Dad’s ‘Top 10’ Cinema Experience” Lyndon Wells discussed the eventful day he took his two-year-old daughter to the cinema for the first time. Now Lyndon is back to discuss subsequent movie-going trips with his little girl…
As you know from A Dad’s “Top 10” Cinema Experience, being a big fan of the cinema experience I couldn’t wait to take my two-year-old daughter. We have now been a handful of times and I have mastered the ideal preparation for a successful trip. Organise a tiring activity beforehand like swimming, a lunchtime midweek showing with a booster seat and plenty of pre-made snacks with at least two pre-film toilet stops. Arrive late to avoid the unnecessary adverts and then, hopefully, we’ll be ready to sit through a whole film, depending on the film!
A New Element To Surviving A Cinema Trip With A Two-Year-Old
We have now successfully watched The Secret life of Pets and Storks without interruption but Finding Dory and Ice Age 4 were less successful! However, the next adventure came with an added element; this element can plague or enrich the modern cinema experience depending on your viewpoint. This new element to our experience is hype and expectation.
Thanks to trailers premising our two previous visits she already knew about the film Trolls. Also due to regular radio playing she knew and danced enthusiastically to the Justin Timberlake song ‘Can’t Stop The Feeling’ that is a big part of the film. And thanks to some lazy mornings with Daddy when she woke up far too early we have watched the Trolls trailers numerous times on Daddy’s phone while he attempted to get an extra two minutes sleep!
The Hollywood marketing machine can generate hype and expectation to the benefit or determent of the film itself. It was fascinating to realise that my daughter’s excitement to see a film/brand she recognised also added to my expectations. Hiding from trailers and spoilers can be a full time job, there is always some expectation and in today’s franchise-laden world brand recognition is key. A trailer can break a film before its release, just see the recent example of this year’s disappointing Ghostbusters reboot. The Trolls trailer promised us great music, recognisable voices and a trip to a colourful, humorous and quirky world.
What Is Trolls?
So why were our expectations so high and what were we both so excited to see? Trolls follows the recent trend of bringing popular toys to the big screen after the high water mark of The Lego Movie. Trolls are fuzzy headed creatures that any self respecting 90s child collected as a good luck charm. So the starting point had as much backstory as The Lego Movie; effectively zero. Where The Lego Movie built a carefully structured narrative Trolls relies far more on an abundance of cute and niceness.
The Trolls are a happy and very ‘huggy’ band of dancers and singers. They start the film living in a tree in the middle of a town occupied by the big and ugly monsters, The Bergens, who believe the only way to experience happiness is to eat a Troll. The King leads a daring escape and the trolls have lived happily for 20 years with Princess Poppy (Anna Kendrick) organising many parties that the miserable and suspicious ‘anti-troll’ Troll Branch (Justin Timberlake) warns may attract the horrible Bergens. Branch is proven right and must help Poppy lead the rescue party that also involves an adventure of self discovery. So a pretty standard narrative.
From the trailer we expected great music, recognisable voices and a trip to a colourful, humorous and quirky world. And that is essentially what we get. Animation and songs are a winning combination and my daughter, Georgie was entranced. Trolls easily passed the ‘Toddler test‘ and she didn’t want to get off her seat once during the film. However, as often happens, the marketing machine was guilty of showing all the funniest bits in the trailer. Apart from the original Timberlake song that inevitably formed the big finale, that to be fair had my daughter dancing in her seat, the rest of the songs didn’t land as well. There was an understated True Colours rendition, also revealed in the trailer, but the rest was passable pop-fun lacking a real oomph.
The trailer also tempted me by the strong voice cast. The two leads – Anna Kendrick and Justin Timberlake – are very good but rest (James Corden, Russell Brand, Gwen Stefani, Zooey Deschanel and Christopher Mintz-Plasse) are there more for name recognition rather than real characterisation. Christine Baranski is effectively the main villain as the Bergen chef and does a great Disney witch impression, but the Bergens are never fully realised as effectively as the Titular Trolls.
Overall the film is impossible to dislike and the colourful inane world is fun to visit, but it never reaches the clever heights of The Lego Movie. It’s a strong three stars from me, but I have a suspicion my little girl would rate it much higher. Once again though, I was guilty of watching her more than the film itself.
The Price Of Hype
The Trolls marketing machine worked a blinder on my daughter and me. The next day on a car journey the newly purchased Trolls soundtrack kept her very happy and we have bought some Trolls dolls to go under the Christmas tree as well. So part of the modern cinema experience is the marketing machine, which has had a big effect on my wallet. Is this marketing machine a good or bad thing? What has been your experience with the Hollywood hype generator?
Based on the pre-film trailers the next instalment of the Daddy Experience will be Disney’s Hawaiian adventure Moana featuring the omnipresent Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson as the voice of Demi-God Maui. I’ll let you know what Georgie and me think because as my wife informs this would be a much more suitable choice for a two-year-old than my suggestion of Dr Strange!
Words by Lyndon Wells
Read Part 1 of A Dad’s “Top 10” Cinema Experience