Thursdays at San Diego Comic-Con International are probably the most uneventful, while also still being just a little bit special at the same time. While most people are pumped and getting situated for Saturday, DreamWorks Animation had a presentation for their upcoming film Trolls featuring the voice talents of Justin Timberlake and Anna Kendrick.
We briefly saw what kind of a film Trolls would be in a teaser trailer. Full of comedy and top 40 songs, Trolls is based on the 90s toys that took over the pop culture world by storm, and if a hit with audiences, it will likely make a huge come back.
Since Thursday is one of the lightest days of the Con, we sat down at Hall H to find out more about this movie. Check out what they had to say and a brief description of the scenes that were shown at the panel.
SDCC panel host regular Chris Hardwick helped kick off the first major panel of this year’s Con. Directors Mike Mitchell and Walt Dohrn were the first to walk out on to the stage. Both expressed their excitement to share footage. We won’t describe too much considering that would be venturing into spoiler territory, but the film will explore the theme of happiness. Trolls are happy and love singing. They even sing about singing. Bergens are depressed, they don’t connect with anyone but are searching for happiness. They are only happy by eating trolls, which Mitchell says they probably taste like cupcakes wrapped in bacon. Poppy (Kendrick) is the colorfully bubbly queen of the Trolls, while Branch (Timberlake) is the saddest of the trolls — he even had color at one point but was drained of it because of his depression.
Now that Poppy’s friends, the Snack Pack, have been kidnapped, she is forced into a contentious relationship with Branch. The first scene we see is of Branch hiding out and his warning Poppy that it is impossible to rescue her friends who have just been kidnapped. We see just how paranoid Branch is when he sets up elaborate traps to prevent any Bergens from entering. While he is prepared to live in his bunker for 10 years (11 if he drinks his own sweat), Poppy draws him out the only way she knows how, by letting other happy trolls live in the bunker. However, she still ventures out on her own to sing songs about optimism and adventure, which fits her nature. Branch eventually rescues her, as she knew he would, and they camp out for the night, but not before she starts to sing “Sounds Of Silence” on the guitar. Branch looks almost intrigued asking for the guitar only to throw it in the fire. But even Poppy sees the positive in that as she can keep warm even longer.
That’s when we see Bergens’ village is full of misery as it lacks any sort of color. Played against the Gorillaz’ “Clint Eastwood,” these bergens do not crack smiles, they move at a depressingly slow pace, and aren’t afraid to dig and bury themselves in their own graves.
Producer Gina Shay said that the film has a 70s vibe, with the world looking like a crocheted blanket or something straight out of an arts and craft store like Michael’s.
Trolls will use popular songs spanning generations, introducing them to kids who may have never been exposed to it, but in a way that can be fun and entertaining. There will also be a couple of original songs sung by the musically talented cast. Timberlake said, “I never thought I have an opportunity to rework Simon and Garfunkel, Gorillaz, and Earth Wind and Fire. It was just a dream come true.” Hardwick proceeded to congratulate Timberlake for “Can’t Stop The Feeling” getting 26 million views on YouTube. Kendrick wasn’t sure if DreamWorks was pitching the right character to her since Poppy is described as a relentlessly happy character. But as soon as she read the script she found out she has layers. Timberlake was worried that Branch was going to be too cantankerous, but having a polar opposite character like Poppy makes the story more intriguing. He added that it’s nice to be a part of something that makes people happy.
When asked why there isn’t a lot of Anna Kendrick music, the actress replied there is a lot, but felt that if she did it more often people would just get annoyed. While it is difficult to get the cast together to record, Kendrick was excited by the opportunity to do more recording sessions because she considers Poppy to be one of her favorite characters she’s done in her career.
Timberlake, who has done some voiceover roles in the past, said it was hard to listen to yourself, but with Trolls, he was genuinely excited. “It says a lot about the epidemic of happiness,” said Timberlake.
Gina Shay said the film breaks the rules of body image and said she would inspire powerful minds rather than focus on the looks of a character.
DreamWorks’ Trolls opens in theaters in November 2016.
UPDATE – the clip is now online:
[SDCC 2016 DreamWorks Trolls panel with Anna Kendrick and Justin Timberlake, July 21, 2016. Photo by Mike Lee for Geeks Of Doom.]
Be sure to check out all of our coverage of this year’s SDCC.