Trolls 3 review: *NSYNC on narcotics

Jasmine Valentine
Branch in Trolls Band TogetherUniversal Pictures

There comes a time in every adult’s life when they must watch a kid’s movie, whether they like it or not. Three movies in and Trolls 3 – titled Trolls Band Together – is proving that the franchise is still the ultimate go-to for jolly headaches.

As time passes, most people become less tolerant of those who remain over-enthusiastically happy for every second of the day. There is no better way to sum up the film’s leading female protagonist Poppy (Anna Kendrick), who often talks more quickly than her small legs allow her to move. In her brief moments of silence, Trolls 3 is filled with the jukebox sounds of pop music gone by if they had been sped up with the TikTok filter the platform is so taken with. All in all, there’s not much in the way of downtime.

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Even for the most seasoned of cinema-goers, the overall feel of Trolls 3 is a lot to take on board. Rather than settling in for the cozy mind massage that classic animations have facilitated for decades, this third installment is more of a grin-and-bear-it, head-down, and trundle-on situation. Sort of like if you took your little ones to a hellish indoor play area, and then couldn’t get away because someone from class is having a birthday party there.

It’s a somewhat harsh yet true outlook on what’s supposed to be a fun time for children, but it’s not without its plus points. Trolls 3 not only lets its audience relive the magic that was 1990s pop, but it reinspires infatuation with its boybands. *NSYNC fully reunites with Branch actor Justin Timberlake to deliver a genuinely good single in the form of ‘Better Place.’ Small wins for those who make it out of the other side.

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A parental headache set to music

For Trolls 3, Branch has enough brothers to fill a family boyband – which was never found out or brought up in the previous two films. Yet here they all are in Branch’s childhood, working together to try and achieve the perfect family harmony. Years later, adult Branch is reluctantly reunited with his long-lost bros when one of them, his favorite brother Floyd (Troye Sivan), is held hostage in a diamond bottle by nasty pop sensations Velvet (Amy Schumer) and Veneer (Andrew Rannells). Using Floyd’s power to cover up their own lack of talent, the BroZone boys – including Poppy – reform to save their dying sibling.

“Loud” is the word that best encapsulates the entire 91-minute runtime of Trolls 3. Its soundtrack seems to be deafeningly blasted over the exuberant, colorful tinge to its visuals, all moving at a million miles an hour without much room to form thought. Though the pace of its journey is remarkably snappy, it can’t help but feel like an absolute chore to watch for the bulk of its time. For anyone over the age of seven, this is a gruelling marathon conducted at speed, crossing your fingers behind your back that you’ll make it through with eardrums and mental faculties intact.

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That being said, it seems like the film’s voice cast is having a better time than most of its audience. Anna Kendrick truly embodies what the cartoon version of herself might behave like, while Justin Timberlake does his utmost to bring an air of cool calm collectedness to proceedings. It goes without saying that the vocals in Trolls 3 are at their peak, with the likes of Troye Sivan joining the animation’s legacy. For Drag Race fans, there’s even a very fitting cameo from RuPaul himself.

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For 90s kids, *NSYNC still reigns supreme

Baby Branch in Trolls 3Universal Pictures

What audiences are bothering with Trolls 3 for – a sniff of an *NSYNC reunion – is what the film delivers best. Through both the formation of BroZone and the real-life boyband cameo, 90s pop music is back and better than ever. Slipping back into teenage fangirl mode is unlocked with ease, with both bands’ smooth blends and dulcet tones a guilty pleasure without the shame attached. For many, the public opinion of Timberlake has changed over the last 25 years, but the man continues to prove he can crack out a chart-topping hit.

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The rest of Trolls 3 falls somewhere between nauseating chaos and mundanity. Branch and Poppy both learn a lot about themselves along the way, teaching these same lessons to whoever they come into contact with. It’s a touching sentiment, but one we’ve seen done a thousand times before – and better.

Trolls 3 review score: 2/5

For those going to see Trolls 3 with excitable children, brace yourselves – and maybe bring earplugs.

It’s not the worst children’s film in the world, but it’s certainly far from the best, and there’s only so far an *NSYNC reunion can carry it.

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Trolls Band Together comes to UK cinemas on October 20 and US theaters on November 17. Find more of our upcoming film coverage below:

Five Nights at Freddy’s | Dune: Part Two | The Marvels | Ballad of Songbirds and Snakes

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About The Author

Jasmine Valentine is a TV and Movies Writer at Dexerto. She's written for the likes of Total Film, The Daily Beast, and Radio Times. Jasmine loves anime, dystopian thrillers, and anything starring Tilda Swinton. You can email her here: jasmine.waters@dexerto.com.