DreamWorks Animation previewed Trolls for the first time with a few exclusive clips and a big surprise at the Cannes Film Festival. Presented by Jeffrey Katzenberg, director Mike Mitchell and co-director Walt Dhorn, the movie delighted the press and the kids invited to the screening.
Before playing the clips, Katzenberg took the opportunity to pay homage to Cannes as a way of celebrating DreamWorks’ Sweet 16. Trolls is the 16th DreamWorks animation movie to screen or debuted footage at the festival. “Cannes is recognized everywhere as the ultimate celebration of motion pictures. I’m not sure people appreciate how much Cannes has celebrated the art of animation,” he said, before thanking festival director Thierry Frémaux, also present, sitting next to John Lasseter.
“Thierry understands that today animation is one of the most vibrant forms of filmmaking. One frame at a time, we create entire worlds of pure imagination that become real and alive on the beautiful silver screen. So I do want to take a moment and I want to take this occasion to thank Thierry and his remarkable team for all that they have done to give animation a prominent place on the world’s greatest film stage here in Cannes. Today, animation is as exciting as it’s ever been at any time in my career. Technology is giving our immensely creative filmmakers and animators a truly unlimited artistic palette. And I think you will be able to see this vividly on display in the film we’re previewing here today, Trolls. We have pushed the bounds of digital technology and production design to transport you to a world of wonder where there are visual surprises around every corner.”
Visually, the clips looked amazing, a Technicolor landscape of saturated hues and a woolen texture, almost palpable, fuzzy and soft. Like the Trolls. Directors Mitchell and Dhorn had previously worked together on many projects, including Shrek. In fact, the green ogres served as inspiration for Trolls: “These ugly characters [transformed] into cute creatures, happy all the time.”
In Trollville, there is perpetual happiness. The Trolls, led by pink-haired Princess Poppy (voiced by Anna Kendrick), dance, sing and hug all the time. In fact, they have a hug alarm, a sort of wristwatch where a flower blooms when it’s time for a hug. These tiny creatures are colorful – their bright-hued hair would be considered punk in our world. They even poop pink cupcakes and bleed rainbows. Only Branch (Justin Timberlake) has less endorphins. He is less about fluff and more about “real” stuff, let’s say. And he doesn’t do hugs. Yuck, please.
But the Trolls’ worst enemy is misery, and misery comes in the form of Bergens, giant creatures who are in a perpetual state of pessimism. “Only one thing makes miserable Bergens happy – chomping on Trolls… Blanquette de Troll, explain the directors.” When a Bergen kidnaps several Trolls, Trollville is afflicted with sadness and everyone drained of color. These cute creatures don’t look as cute in gray. So Poppy and a reluctant Branch set out to save their friends and be happy-go-lucky again.
Dhorn even voices several characters in the film, including a fluffy, high-fiving, facetious cloud (yes, cloud). Other members of the voice cast include Zooey Deschanel, Gwen Stefani, James Corden, Christopher Mintz-Plasse and John Cleese.
The story’s universal appeal will also resonate with older audiences who are familiar with the songs. Music is a very central part of animation movies. “Since Snow White, music has played an important role in generating emotions,” said Katzenberg. But never as much as in Trolls, as each song has been carefully picked to depict a scene or emotion by soundtrack executive director Justin Timberlake. And his choices include many covers, including Simon and Garfunkel’s “The Sound of Silence,” Gorillaz’s “Clint Eastwood” and Cyndi Lauper’s “True Colors.” “This is the first time in a DreamWorks film where music drives the movie.”
Before previewing the first clip Katzenberg had requested that all phones be turned off as a courtesy for the filmmakers. Before introducing the musical guests, he asked everyone to switch them back on. Teenyboppers – and some women – screamed their tonsils off as Justin Timberlake took the stage and performed “True Colors” with the elegant Anna Kendrick, and you can watch clip below.
The movie’s message is an inspiring one. We all know misery loves company, but happiness is just as contagious. So don’t worry, be happy.
Trolls is slated for release on November 4th, is currently in post-production.