Posted at 11:24 AM, Oct 31, 2016
and last updated 2016-10-31 13:24:03-04

You know those birthday cards that open up and play music? They're cute, right? Until they're not. 

That's "Trolls," for you. It's so sweet, peppy and crammed with upbeat music that you'll be sick to your stomach within minutes and longing for detox.

Much like the Justin Timberlake music that pumps through the film's veins, "Trolls" is light, inconsequential and fluffy. You can't hate it, and it's thoroughly likable, but only if you manage to keep your pesky brain turned off.

"Trolls" takes you inside the world of the pencil-topping fad from your Trapper Keeper days. It turns out they have a whole society of their own, complete with a royal chain of command of sorts that seems to start and end with the title of princess. Some trolls poop out cupcakes, most love to hug and all fear the ravenous, predatorial Bergens, whose role it is to troll the trolls.

It turns out there is nuance to the Bergen society, as well. The goofy prince has been raised to believe that the only way to attain happiness is to munch on a troll, but he starts to have some doubts once he befriends his potential prey. One of his underlings infiltrates troll society, only to discover she has more in common with them than she does the oppressive Bergens.

Anna Kendrick voices the perpetually peppy Poppy, while Timberlake inhabits the sullen Branch. John Cleese, Jeffrey Tambor, Zoey Deschanel, Russell Brand and Gwen Stefani also do time here, maximizing the colossal talent to waste ratio. 

Every few minutes, the plot -- so to speak -- pauses so there can be an instant dance party, based on whatever song the producers decided to plop in there for no good reason. The numbers obviously exist just to pad things out, and would be annoying except for the fact that they provide welcome relief for the bumbling excuse for a story.

Your capacity for enjoying the movie as a whole depends on whether or not these song-and-dance numbers irritate you. The recommendation here should be to heed the sage words of Timberlake. Since you can't stop the music, is to just dance, dance, dance, dance, dance.

Rating: 2 stars out of 4.

Phil Villarreal's novel, Zeta Male, is available at Amazon.