Trolls: World Tour

Posted on April 10, 2020 at 11:02 am

B +
Lowest Recommended Age: Kindergarten - 3rd Grade
MPAA Rating: Rated PG for some mild rude humor
Profanity: None
Alcohol/ Drugs: None
Violence/ Scariness: Some peril, no one hurt
Diversity Issues: A theme of the movie
Date Released to Theaters: April 10, 2020
Date Released to DVD: July 7, 2020
Copyright 2020 DreamWorks

Remember on “Sesame Street” when they ask, which one of these four things is not like the other? “One of these doesn’t belong.” But there are a lot of ways to look at what is same and what is different, as “Trolls: World Tour” explores in a surprisingly subtle and nuanced theme in the midst of so much…well, just so much.

This sequel to the popular original film based on the little fuzzy-haired so-ugly-they’re-cute 1960’s fad dolls begins where the last one left off. Formerly cynical Branch (Justin Timberlake) has now learned to be happy, or happy-ish, and the eternally cheery Poppy (Anna Kendrick) is now Queen. Everything is glitters and rainbows and especially music music music, with a dizzying array of song snippets millennial parents will recognize. The snippets contribute to a a hyper, ADD quality that at times makes viewers feel shaken by the shoulders to make sure we notice we are being ENTERTAINED.

But happily-ever-after endings must be undone if there is to be a sequel and so Poppy learns that the pop-music trolls are not the only trolls and, even more surprising, pop music is not the only music. There’s even a map showing all of the different troll music communities, covering country, reggae, classical, hip-hop, funk, EDM, rock and more. (But it’s an old map — there’s no disco anymore. Even a movie about how harmony means accepting and enjoying every kind of music, disco is still over.)

Once all trolls were together, guided by a lyre with magical strings. But then they broke up into separate divisions, each with one string to produce the music. Queen Barb of Rock (a delicious Rachel Bloom of “Crazy Ex-Girlfriend”), daughter of King Thrash (a very funny Ozzie Osborne), declares a world tour which ever-optimistic Poppy thinks is about bringing everyone together in a peaceful manner, but Barb wants to grab all of the strings and make rock the one music for all of Troll-dom. Will this be the day the music dies? Or will Poppy find a way to teach the world to sing in perfect harmony? Will there be guest appearances from music giants along the way? What do you think? Kelly Clarkson, George Clinton, and Mary J. Blige all show up, along with many more song snippets and a lot of candy-colored action.

Also in the mix is Sam Rockwell, Kendrick’s “Mr. Right” co-star (not for kids, but a great movie if you like dark humor about world-class assassins). Here he plays a suspiciously helpful troll centaur from country music land.

And somewhere in there are some genuinely thoughtful themes. Like “Frozen II,” this movie touches gently but candidly on the idea that history is written by the victors. What we’ve been told about the past should be questioned, especially if we are portrayed as the heroes. And the idea of same and different, what kinds of differences we should appreciate and support in each other and what kinds we should not, is raised with sophistication and yet still in an accessible manner.

As everyone knows, this movie was scheduled to be a big holiday weekend family movie theatrical release. Instead, in the age of COVID-19, it is the first major studio film being sent straight to streaming, both a gift to homebound families and something of an experiment in unprecedented times. It may seem a bit frantic after weeks of sequester, but it is a bright, tuneful, sweet story with a message of hope that seems especially welcome in the spring of 2020.

Parents should know that this film has some mild peril and brief potty humor. A male troll “gives birth” to a baby (pops out of his head, like Zeus and Minerva)

Family discussion: Which is your favorite kind of music and why? How are Poppy and Barb alike? Can you find three things that are the same about you and your family members and three things that are different?

If you like this, try: “Trolls,” “Happy Feet,” and the “All Hail King Julien” series

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Critics Choice Awards 2016

Posted on January 18, 2016 at 2:00 pm

Copyright Open Road Films 2015

TJ Miller hosted the first-ever combined Critics Choice film and television awards. I am not in any way objective because I’m a member of the Broadcast Film Critics Association, but I think it is a great show and I’m very proud of our awards, even the ones that don’t reflect the way I voted.

Best acceptance speech of the night, maybe best ever, was Jacob Tremblay, our best youth performance winner for “Room.” The scene backstage with him meeting BB-8 was adorable, too. BB-8 was there for the special award for ILM, another highlight. I really appreciated the kind words from many of the awardees for the critics and the contribution we make in supporting their best work and bringing it to the attention of audiences.

The Oscar race comes into clearer view now with Leonardo DiCaprio, Sylvester Stallone, and “Spotlight” looking like probable winners.

FILM:

BEST PICTURE — “Spotlight”

BEST ACTOR — Leonardo DiCaprio, “The Revenant”

BEST ACTRESS — Brie Larson, “Room”

BEST SUPPORTING ACTOR — Sylvester Stallone, “Creed”

BEST SUPPORTING ACTRESS — Alicia Vikander, “The Danish Girl”

BEST YOUNG ACTOR/ACTRESS — Jacob Tremblay, “Room”

BEST ACTING ENSEMBLE — “Spotlight”

BEST DIRECTOR — George Miller, “Mad Max: Fury Road”

BEST ORIGINAL SCREENPLAY — Josh Singer and Tom McCarthy, “Spotlight”

BEST ADAPTED SCREENPLAY — Charles Randolph and Adam McKay, “The Big Short”

BEST CINEMATOGRAPHY — Emmanuel Lubezki, “The Revenant”

BEST PRODUCTION DESIGN — Colin Gibson, “Mad Max: Fury Road”

BEST EDITING — Margaret Sixel, “Mad Max: Fury Road”

BEST COSTUME DESIGN — Jenny Beavan, “Mad Max: Fury Road”

BEST HAIR & MAKEUP — “Mad Max: Fury Road”

BEST VISUAL EFFECTS — “Mad Max: Fury Road”

BEST ANIMATED FEATURE — “Inside Out”

BEST ACTION MOVIE — “Mad Max: Fury Road”

BEST ACTOR IN AN ACTION MOVIE — Tom Hardy, “Mad Max: Fury Road”

BEST ACTRESS IN AN ACTION MOVIE — Charlize Theron, “Mad Max: Fury Road”

BEST COMEDY — “The Big Short”

BEST ACTOR IN A COMEDY — Christian Bale, “The Big Short”

BEST ACTRESS IN A COMEDY — Amy Schumer, “Trainwreck”

BEST SCI-FI/HORROR MOVIE — “Ex Machina”

BEST FOREIGN LANGUAGE FILM — “Son of Saul”

BEST DOCUMENTARY FEATURE — “Amy”

BEST SONG — “See You Again”, Charlie Puth and Wiz Khalifa, “Furious 7”

BEST SCORE — Ennio Morricone, “The Hateful Eight”

TELEVISION:

BEST ACTOR IN A COMEDY SERIES — Jeffrey Tambor, Transparent, Amazon

BEST ACTOR IN A DRAMA SERIES — Rami Malek, Mr. Robot, USA

BEST ACTOR IN A MOVIE MADE FOR TELEVISION OR LIMITED SERIES — Idris Elba, Luther, BBC America

BEST ACTRESS IN A COMEDY SERIES — Rachel Bloom, Crazy Ex-Girlfriend, The CW

BEST ACTRESS IN A DRAMA SERIES — Carrie Coon, The Leftovers, HBO

BEST ACTRESS IN A MOVIE MADE FOR TELEVISION OR LIMITED SERIES — Kirsten Dunst, Fargo, FX Networks

BEST COMEDY SERIES — Master of None, Netflix

BEST DRAMA SERIES — Mr. Robot, USA

BEST GUEST ACTOR/ACTRESS IN A COMEDY SERIES — Timothy Olyphant, The Grinder, Fox

BEST GUEST ACTOR/ACTRESS IN A DRAMA SERIES — Margo Martindale, The Good Wife, CBS

BEST MOVIE MADE FOR TELEVISION OR LIMITED SERIES — Fargo, FX Networks

BEST SUPPORTING ACTOR IN A COMEDY SERIES — Andre Braugher, Brooklyn Nine-Nine, Fox

BEST SUPPORTING ACTOR IN A DRAMA SERIES — Christian Slater, Mr. Robot, USA

BEST SUPPORTING ACTOR IN A MOVIE MADE FOR TELEVISION OR LIMITED SERIES — Jesse Plemons, Fargo, FX Networks

BEST SUPPORTING ACTRESS IN A COMEDY SERIES — Mayim Bialik, The Big Bang Theory, CBS

BEST SUPPORTING ACTRESS IN A DRAMA SERIES — Constance Zimmer, UnREAL, Lifetime

BEST SUPPORTING ACTRESS IN A MOVIE MADE FOR TELEVISION OR LIMITED SERIES — Jean Smart, Fargo, FX Networks

BEST ANIMATION SERIES — BoJack Horseman, Netflix

BEST REALITY SHOW — COMPETITION — The Voice, NBC

BEST REALITY SHOW HOST — James Lipton, Inside the Actors Studio, Bravo

BEST STRUCTURED REALITY SHOW — Shark Tank, ABC

BEST TALK SHOW — Last Week Tonight with John Oliver, HBO

BEST UNSTRUCTURED REALITY SHOW — Anthony Bourdain: Parts Unknown, CNN

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Awards

This Year’s Best New Show: Crazy Ex-Girlfriend

Posted on November 9, 2015 at 3:23 pm

The only new show to make it to my DVR series list is “Crazy Ex-Girlfriend,” co-created by its sensationally talented star, Rachel Bloom. Each episode is a full-on original musical that takes place mostly inside the head of its slightly demented heroine, Rebecca, a Harvard and Yale-educated lawyer who walked away from her type-A career in a New York City law firm to move to West Covina, California, where her boyfriend from summer camp lives.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-ctFmXGm_yE

It has a tremendous cast of singers and dancers, most with Broadway experience, including Donna Lynne Champlin, who plays Rebecca’s new friend, Paula, Santino Fontana (from the Broadway “Cinderella”) as a bartender who for some reason he cannot understand is drawn to Rebecca, and Vincent Rodriguez III as Josh, the object of Rebecca’s obsessional affection.

My favorite musical number so far is NSFW, the very funny “Sexy Getting Ready Song.” Here’s my runner-up, Rebecca’s boy band fantasy song, performed by four Joshes.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4C5fHfG_ptE

And here’s an Astaire-and-Rogers themed song with Fontana.

The songs are by Fountains of Wayne’s Adam Schlesinger, who created the pitch perfect title number for “That Thing You Do” and the songs for the Drew Barrymore/Hugh Grant film “Words and Music.” They are funny and smart and earwormy in the nicest possible way. It’s on the CW Monday nights at 8/7 central and you can catch up on the previous episodes on Hulu.

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