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Trolls World Tour

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NEW YORK — With its psychedelic palette, upbeat energy and fun interludes of song, director Walt Dohrn's animated musical sequel "Trolls World Tour" (Universal) is a delightful diversion, one especially well calculated to reduce stress amid the present trying — and, for many, tragic — global circumstances.


In following up on his 2016 original, Dohrn and the ensemble of no fewer than five screenwriters keep the focus on the pair at the center of the first story: the ever-optimistic Poppy (voice of Anna Kendrick), who became queen of the trolls at the end of the last movie, and her more fearful best friend, Branch (voice of Justin Timberlake). This time out, the two discover that there are whole new realms to be explored.


Poppy's kingdom of popular-music-addicted trolls, they learn, is just one of several such nations, each dedicated to a particular genre of melody. The bad news is that Queen Barb (voice of Rachel Bloom), the malicious sovereign of the hard-rock tribe, is out to conquer or destroy all the rest.


As Poppy and Branch embark on a quest to unite everyone in resistance to this move, Branch tries to work up the courage to tell Poppy that he loves her.


Along the way, the script delivers amusing barbs about topics like the perniciously hypnotic nature of smooth jazz (Chaz, the character embodying it, voiced by Jamie Dornan). And real-life celebrities like Kelly Clarkson, George Clinton and Mary J. Blige provide the voices of characters representative of their varied genres of music.


Underlying the plot are lessons about tolerance, respect for differing identities and the power of self-sacrificing love. Sometimes by challenging her, but ultimately by offering her support, Branch helps Poppy to develop the qualities of a good leader, offering viewers another positive insight as he does so.


While the potty humor that never seems to be absent from Hollywood pictures aimed at kids appears in its mildest form, the other potentially bothersome element for parents is more peculiar. Returning character Guy Diamond (voice of Kunal Nayyar) spontaneously gives birth to a baby son, Tiny (voice of Kenan Thompson), via his hair.


What questions about real-life reproduction this odd occurrence might raise in the minds of tots is anyone's guess. Older children could, perhaps, be referred to the birth of Athena from the head of Zeus in ancient mythology — or not. The moment comes and goes and so may, in the end, fall safely under the radar anyway. Then it's swiftly on to more toe-tapping exuberance.


Watch out for: The film contains an unusual birth and a brief scatological sight gag.


Rated: A-II, adults and adolescents; MPAA: PG.


Watch the film: The movie is currently streaming on Amazon Prime, Apple TV, YouTube and other outlets, go to universalpictures.com/movies/trolls-world-tour/watch-now for links.


© Arlington Catholic Herald 2020