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Things Only Adults Noticed In Trolls World Tour

Movie theaters may be closed, but it'll take more than a global pandemic to keep the newest Trolls movie from finding its audience. DreamWorks released Trolls: World Tour, the animated sequel to 2016's Trolls, as a premium on-demand rental title on April 10, the date previously earmarked for the film's theatrical debut. Parents and kids alike were able to watch in the comfort of their own homes, even singing along to the musical numbers if the urge struck. 

A home rental also gives kids — and thus parents — the opportunity to watch Trolls: World Tour multiple times, which offers adults many more occasions to notice some elements of the film that will go right over the heads of their children. Sure, Trolls movies are mostly just silly fun wrapped in colorfully animated candy floss, but there are definitely a few aspects that will have adults tilting their heads and wanting to take a closer look. From deceptively dark plot threads to some unsettling real-world themes, here are some of the things that only adults will notice in Trolls: World Tour.

All of the characters in Trolls: World Tour are wrong

Good guys and bad guys are a staple of most kids' movies, and while the good guys often wind up revising their initial goals according to the lessons they learn over the course of the film, it still tends to be pretty obvious right from the beginning whose goal we're supposed to be rooting for. Not so with Trolls: World Tour, which sees pretty much every character — main and side, hero and villain alike — arguing for scenarios which are clearly wrong. Not one character voices a healthy or reasonable goal until well into the movie.

Of course Queen Barb, the leader of the Rock Trolls, is obviously in the wrong with her goal to turn all of the other music trolls into rock zombies. But protagonist Queen Poppy, leader of the Pop Trolls, is nearly as bad, spouting rhetoric about all trolls being the same while also declaring her music superior. Even Poppy's advisors lead her astray, with her father urging her to keep the various Troll tribes cocooned away from each other so that none of them will ever have to change, and Poppy's best friend Branch cautioning her to only trust members of her own community. Sure, they all eventually come around to recognizing that diversity is a good thing, but it's rare that a kids' movie starts with literally everyone in the wrong, with nary a word of actual wisdom to be found.

Somebody needs to check on Mr. Dinkles

Most of Trolls: World Tour is expectedly light, glittery fun, but there's one sequence that is played for laughs but is actually shockingly dark. After trying to convince the country Trolls that pop is actually the superior music genre, Poppy and her companions are subsequently run out of town, and wind up plummeting off a cliff into the gelatinous river below. Fortunately, everyone can swim — except for Biggie's pet worm, Mr. Dinkles.

Without any appendages, Mr. Dinkles sinks helplessly and begins to drown, and briefly experiences a vision of a worm-like God welcoming him into heaven, where Mr. Dinkles seems eager to go. But then, much to his own dismay, he's resuscitated by Biggie, and when Mr. Dinkles realizes that he is not, in fact, dead, he seems... disappointed. Throughout the rest of the film, whenever we see Mr. Dinkles — and especially when he's suffering through unpleasant things like Biggie using him as a raft (as if he did not just drown) — it's hard not to wonder about his brush with the afterlife, and whether he's actually doing okay now that he's back among the living.

Why does the world of Trolls: World Tour have so many bounty hunters?

When Poppy sends a note to Barb saying she can't wait to be best friends and party together, Barb becomes convinced that Poppy is taunting her (in actuality, Poppy is being completely sincere, albeit naive). Although Barb was already on a mission to gather up the magical musical strings of each of the Troll kingdoms, she now becomes fixated on the pop string, and hires a cadre of bounty hunters to track it (and Poppy, who's woven it into her hair) down. Reporting for duty are Chaz, the smooth jazz Troll, a trio of reggaeton Trolls, five K-Pop Trolls, and a pair of yodeling Trolls.

But... in the world of the Trolls, where each of the various Troll lands keep to themselves and supposedly remain peaceful, why would there need to be so many bounty hunters? Plus, this isn't even all of the Troll bounty hunters — merely the best Troll bounty hunters. As a matter of fact, when Barb's four picks are lined up onscreen, they each appear under the title Bounty Hunter Weekly, implying there is an entire weekly Troll periodical devoted solely to this profession. Why on earth would bounty hunting be such an in-demand profession in Troll world? Could it be that there's actually a much darker underbelly to the glittery, technicolor existence of the Trolls that we haven't yet seen?

There must be a lot of roving bands of nomad Trolls

According to Poppy's father, King Peppy, there are six Troll lands: Pop, Rock, Funk, Country, Techno, and Classical. He even unrolls a map showing how all of these lands are divvied up, which doesn't seem to leave much room for any other types of musical Troll. However, we meet a lot more than those six types of Troll during the course of Trolls: World Tour, and it's really unclear where they all came from. Each of the bounty hunters are the only representatives we see of each of their respective genres of music (smooth jazz, K-Pop, reggaeton, and yodeling), but are we to believe they are the only ones in existence?

It seems more likely that there are more Trolls fitting into each of those genres, and many more (Where are the showtunes Trolls? The opera Trolls? The Afro-soul Trolls?), but they just don't have their own lands, although it is worth noting that when Barb shows her map of the region, there appear to be 12 kingdoms, not six, begging the question of whether Peppy's map is erasing a much more diverse Troll landscape. However, if Peppy's map is indeed correct, then all of these other Trolls must have either come from somewhere outside the map, or there are large populations of Trolls with no land to claim for themselves. Given some of the film's other surprisingly heavy themes, it wouldn't be surprising if these smaller groups of Trolls had to make do in the cracks and margins of society, carving out homes for themselves wherever and however they could. No wonder so many of them became bounty hunters.

More than smooth jazz is coming out of Chaz's saxophone

Chaz, the smooth jazz Troll, is the first of the Troll bounty hunters to catch up with Poppy and Branch, and when he does, he reels them in with the dulcet tones of his soprano saxophone. Except... is that really just smooth jazz Chaz is wafting toward his targets? Almost immediately after Chaz starts playing, Poppy and Branch become groggy and compliant, lose feeling in their extremities, and perhaps most disturbingly, they begin to hallucinate.

None of this is in line with the effects of listening to jazz, no matter how smooth it is, and it's clear to any adult watching that Poppy and Branch aren't simply captivated; they're drugged. It's impossible to know exactly what sort of hallucinogenic cocktail Chaz is piping out of his saxophone, but it appears pretty potent. It explains how he's such an effective bounty hunter, but raises some significant questions about what else is being hidden within the Trolls' "music."

The story of the funk Trolls contains some disturbing real-world parallels

When the funk Trolls pick up long-lost prince Cooper in their sci-fi hovercraft, they're able to offer a different side to the story of the strings than the sanitized version Poppy got from her father. While Poppy's scrapbooks say that the Trolls all lived in harmony until they could no longer agree on which music to play, and then mutually agreed to go their separate ways, dividing up the six strings among them, the Funk Trolls inform her that the truth is far darker. In actuality, the Trolls were living in harmony, until the pop Trolls decided they weren't content with just a sliver of the musical pie, and wanted it all.

Rather than become subjugated by the pop Trolls, the remaining Trolls made the difficult decision to thwart their conquering plans in the only way they could — by fleeing their homes and separating the strings, so that no single group of Trolls would ever have enough power to oppress the rest. Kids will see the tragedy in the Trolls history, but may not realize that this story of colonization, oppression, and driving people from their homes is one that has played out many times on the real-world stage. Characters in Trolls: World Tour even make a point of saying several times that history repeats itself, cautioning Poppy that her ignorance of the past may be paving the way for the destructive cycle to repeat itself once more. It's a message young audiences may miss, but adult viewers should hear loud and clear.

There's an important message about how history gets written in Trolls: World Tour

Along with its pointed commentary on historical oppression, Trolls: World Tour also has something to say about how history gets written, and the importance of interrogating our commonly accepted historical narratives for truthfulness. When Poppy exclaims that the pop Troll scrapbooks (read: history books) don't say anything about the pop Trolls' power grab and their attempts to subjugate the other Trolls, Prince D. gently informs her that "those [scrapbooks] are cut out, glued, and glittered by the winners," so of course they'd exclude the unsavory bits that the pop Trolls would prefer history forgot.

Adding additional weight to the lesson is the fact that Poppy is given this historical education through hip-hop, a genre of music created by black and Latino Americans, two groups who know all too well about having history books rewritten to gloss over the atrocities committed against them. The lesson is tucked away in a song performed by silly-looking animated llama-like creatures, so kids may not register the full weight of the message, but it's still a meaningful reminder not to take a dominant culture's version of history at face value, and to always consider how the popular narrative has been shaped by the "winners."

The strings were meaningless

The MacGuffins of Trolls: World Tour are six magical strings, each imbued with the spirit of a specific genre of music that coincides with the six main Troll kingdoms. We're told early on in the movie that the strings are of vital importance, and that if used together, they have the ability to either unite all of Trolldom or conquer it. These strings have been hidden away and kept safe for generations, guarded as the greatest treasure in each kingdom. Later, we see the powers of the six strings in action, when Barb uses them to create rock zombies out of the monarchs of the other kingdoms, and intends to use them to make all Trolls everywhere into rock Trolls, wiping out musical diversity once and for all.

Except it turns out that the strings never really had any benefit whatsoever, and probably should have just been destroyed long ago. After all, the strings were created by the Troll ancestors after they first discovered music, and when the strings are broken at the end of the movie, the Trolls realize their ability to make music hasn't been impeded at all. The strings' sole usefulness is to impose their player's music style on others, which is a power it quickly becomes obvious no Troll should possess. Much like the One Ring, the strings never had any good reason to exist, and would've saved everyone a lot of pain and effort if they'd just been tossed into a volcano from the get-go.

There's an interesting nature vs. nurture argument hidden in Trolls: World Tour

For all the talk in Trolls: World Tour of the various types of Trolls being separated by genres of music, that's not actually the case in practice. Even before the strings are destroyed and all the Trolls come together at the end, merging their disparate single-genre societies into one giant, diverse musical extravaganza, not every Troll in a given land lined up with the given musical genre of that land. Early on in the movie, Guy Diamond, a pop Troll, gives birth to the tiny, glittery Tiny Diamond, a hip-hop Troll. And Cooper, a funk Troll by birth, identifies as a pop Troll after being raised in their community — and later, as a pop/funk combination — while his twin brother, Prince D, is a hip-hop Troll. Further, when the pop Trolls try to infiltrate the rock Trolls' kingdom to save Poppy, they manage to do a pretty spot-on rock performance in order to keep their cover intact.

All these hints add up to suggest that many of these Trolls may have an aptitude for multiple types of music, and simply slotted into the single genre they did based on where they were born, not who they really were. Trolls may, in fact, be far more complex than most of them were willing to consider, with innate musical aptitudes that have nothing to do with the land in which they reside. It's an interesting take on a nature vs. nurture debate, and makes you wonder just how many Trolls are basing their identities not on who they inherently are, but on who they think they're supposed to be based on their environments.

Barb's entire quest was unnecessary

For most of Trolls: World Tour, Queen Barb's quest to "unite" all the Troll kingdoms under the banner of rock seems driven not by a personal wish to rule over all of Trollkind, but by Barb's desire to please her ailing father. King Thrash is old and in poor health, using a wheelchair and seeming to possibly suffer from some form of Troll dementia, although he always seems to remember his love of rock. Perhaps this is why Barb gets it in her head that what Thrash wants her to do is create an entire world full of rock-loving Trolls, by any means necessary.

However, at the end of the film, once the Trolls all begin to make music together, Thrash has a moment of lucidity in which he tells his daughter, "It's all right, Barbara. Just let everyone be what they want to be. Including you." Barb, in turn, embraces who she is as a rainbow-hued rock Troll, uniting the different string colors in her sky-high hair. It makes it clear that not only did Barb never really even want the world she was trying to create, neither did her father. With no one on Barb's team actually in favor of her world-dominating mission, the entire effort becomes pointless, based on justifications that never really existed in the first place.

The power of the six strings seems a lot more sinister than the history books are willing to admit

According to King Peppy's version of history, the six strings were created by the Troll ancestors in order to celebrate the different types of music. Even in Prince D's amended version, the strings originally existed during a period of peace and unity, and things only got out of hand when the pop Trolls attempted to steal all the strings and subjugate the rest of the Trolls. The strings, we are led to believe, exist to help the Trolls' music reach its full potential, and when united, they unite the Trolls in one big party.

Except... that doesn't actually appear to be the purpose of the strings at all. By the end of the movie, it's made clear that the Trolls are perfectly capable of creating music without the strings that's just as good — if not better — than the music they were able to create with the strings. In fact, their devotion to the strings may have actually been holding them back, forcing them to conform to single genres instead of allowing them the freedom to explore and experiment. In actuality, the only actual function the strings seem to have is to create musical zombies, stripping the Trolls of their free will. It makes us wonder whether there's yet another, darker chapter of Troll history that's still being left out.

Did all the Trolls stand by and watch a guy die at the end of Trolls: World Tour?

By the end of Trolls: World Tour, the Trolls have all come together in one big, candy-colored party, dancing as a united people to a beat created with the power of friendship and understanding. But there's one Troll who may actually have... died? And in front of a massive audience, to boot.

When Barb makes her grand entrance, performing a rousing rendition of "Barracuda," one of the rock Trolls gets so swept up in the energy of the performance that he vaults into a pool of molten lava. A couple minutes later, we see him slowly sinking, and he calls out, "Uh, this is a little hot." And then we never see him again.

Could someone have pulled him to safety? Sure, but given the complete lack of concern shown by all the other Trolls in that scene, it seems doubtful. Trolls: World Tour may not have intended for all its characters to be dancing on a Troll's fiery grave at the end, but given the implications of what we saw, that's exactly what's happening.