When an animated movie is a humungous hit, you have a number of options for sequels and spin-offs. You can rush into production one of those sequels that’s too cheap to bring back the cast of the original film (I’m looking at you, Muppets Most Wanted)… you can wait 13 years before bringing everyone back (e.g. Finding Dory, The Incredibles 2)… you can create a spin-off TV series, like Home: Adventures with Tip & Oh or Dawn of the Croods, that change the voice cast and the animation style, but try hard to capture the spirit of the original… or you could bring back the original cast and the original CG animation style, make it 20-something minutes long, and drop it on DVD and iTunes for a fiver. That’s what Pixar did with films like Toy Story of Terror, and it’s the path DreamWorks Animation has chosen for Trolls Holiday, the surprise, short form sequel to their 2016 hit Trolls – and it’s terrific.
Anna Kendrick, Justin Timberlake, Zooey Deschanel, Christopher Mintz-Plasse and James Corden are all back in Trolls Holiday, which uses the threadbare plot – with Trollstice cancelled, the Bergens need a new holiday to celebrate, and Poppy (Kendrick) ropes Branch (Timberlake) in to coming up with some options – as an excuse for a madcap run through some potential holidays, from Glitterpalooza (Poppy apparently didn’t get the memo about the environmental costs of glitter) to Tickle Day. Actually, it’s more like an excuse to get Kendrick and Timberlake dueting on an iPod-on-shuffle selection of cover songs, including The O’Jays’ “Love Train”, Bill Withers’ “Lean On Me” and Madonna’s “Holiday” – with a few others thrown in just to really blow the music licensing budget.
Everyone is clearly having a blast, and it’s infectious: kids who don’t have the time, patience or attention span to sit through the whole of Trolls can get a 23-minute fix of holiday cheer all year round. Oh, and if you buy it on iTunes (for £4.99, the same price as the DVD), you get bonus episodes of Home: Adventures with Tip & Oh and Dawn of the Croods to bring the running time up to feature length.
Now that’s what we call a holiday bonus.