Trolls (2016) and the Trolls Holiday Special (2017)

We watched the Trolls Holiday Special and walked away with one big question: Is Trolls a Christmas Movie? After we got around to watching the movie itself, we decided the answer is ehhh... not really? Probably not?

However, its one holiday element is unique enough that we wanted to catalog it.

The movie Trolls (based somehow on the plastic dolls from back in the day) is a surreal confabulation of light, color, and pop music. The trolls are small and brightly colored, and the favorite snack of a larger creature that looks much more like your stereotypical common troll. These "Bergens" believe that the only way to be happy is to essentially steal the trolls' happiness (by eating them).

However, (and this is where the holidays come in) they only eat trolls once a year, on a holiday called Trollstice. Other than being a pun on solstice, Trollstice has very little in common with Christmas though. There is one very early scene in which the bergen prince wakes his father on Trollstice morning that is obviously a reference to Christmas, and they all gather around a giant tree (where the trolls live), but that's all.

The rest of the movie is adequately summed up quickly: trolls escape, years later are found and captured, troll princess and her pessimistic friend break in to save everyone and eventually teach the bergens to find happiness within themselves by befriending a bergen who is in love with the young king. Interspersed with lots of singing. Some of the songs were written for the movie, but they sound so much like generic pop music that I couldn't tell you which ones. Most of the music feels haphazardly stuck in and doesn't affect the plot.

I don't know if it's because we watched the Trolls Holiday Special first, or just because it was shorter, but I liked the special much more than the movie. The movie is recapped briefly, and the special's plot follows the perky troll princess trying to find a holiday that the gloomy bergens will enjoy. (After all, the bergens canceled their only holiday when they decided to stop eating trolls, so replacing it is the least they can do.)

She misunderstands what the bergens will like in a holiday and tries to force loud troll-style happy-huggy-glitter celebrations on them, only to learn a lesson about listening to your friends. The bergens eventually decide on a more general Christmas-style holiday of goodwill and friendship and everyone celebrates together.

Despite some weird surreal sequences, I thought the writing on this was much tighter. The use of music was also more appropriate and thematic; overall it just worked better for me.

We're always looking for quality programming that deals with the solstice, but we just got a glimmer of possibility here, not anything truly inspired.