Movie Review: Troll 2

Sigh...I wish we were meeting under morepleasant circumstances but alas; Troll 2. I'm not even sure where to begin with this movie. If someone told me that this movie was going to conclude with someone eating a bologna sandwich and hugging a rock thus summoning the Power of Goodness I would've laughed in their face. Seriously, that's the conflict resolution. As hard as it is to try and find a legitimate place to start this review I'm going to try anyways.

Who was the protagonist in this movie? The movie opens with a character from a bedtime story walking through the woods while the protagonist Joshua's grandfather provides the voice over. So yeah, the kid's grandpa is reading him a story. Not too much to digest. Ignoring the fact that the story he is being read turns from innocent to full blown ricidulous in a matter of seconds it's easy to assume Joshua will be the protagonist which I guess isn't necessarily untrue but this is still worth exploring. The reason I take issue to labeling Joshua as the protagonist, or anyone else for that matter, is that the protagonist is supposed to overcome an obstacle. This is the character the audience roots for and relates to.  First, try as they may NONE of the characters are able at any point to effectively overcome even the smallest obstacle. The family could have just left this town after being greeted by an empty main street devoid of life to which the father simply explains “At this time of night everybody goes to sleep”. Remember that the sun is up…completely up…like high noon up. But the family accepts this without as much as a second thought or a raised eyebrow. Any encouragement I would want to give someone who thinks like this, let alone an entire family, would be completely out of pity. The irony with a well-rounded protagonist is that the audience must see a reflection of themselves in the character in some way. The reason I find this ironic is that anyone who did see a reflection of themselves in any character in Troll 2 probably should not be allowed to operate a motor vehicle or even be allowed in public. They obviously have some developmental issues and should only be watching stimulating kids programs at the most. The ending of this movie where the crisis had allegedly been resolved makes a feeble attempt at ushering in the possibility of a sequel but instead just reaffirms the hunch that this family literally accomplished nothing throughout this whole ordeal. Despite everything they’ve been doing to remedy the problem it not only still exists but in greater force. Basically the only qualification that Joshua has for being labeled any semblance of a protagonist is that I have to suffer through this ordeal with him leading the way even though I feel like he’s just as lost as I am.  If my kid ever resembles Joshua in any way he’s getting left at the fire station, you’ve been warned Dirty Dave Jr.

Troll 2 makes an admirable effort to try and establish chemistry through its vast array of characters. Characters are constantly having conversation, joking, and fighting in scenes that are meant to develop relationships. The first real interaction comes after the plot establishes that Josh’s grandfather is actually dead and simply a projection of Josh’s imagination. The mother then comes in to comfort Josh by bluntly telling this fragile child that his grandfather is dead and never coming back. If that doesn’t sound comforting at all then you get my point. This is pretty much how the rest of the dialogue feels throughout the film, awkward and disjointed. You get the faint inclination of where each scene is supposed to go but it never quite actually gets there before an epic one liner or some obscure scenario completely derails the scene. The thing that makes this so interesting to watch is that the writing constantly surprises me because there is not conceivable way I would ever anticipate a story going the way that Troll 2 does. The writing is so mind-bendingly random that it’s almost hypnotic in nature. The characters are constantly saying and doing things that make no logical sense to me and yet they and everyone else in the scene somehow make perfect sense of it. To say that the writing in this movie requires the viewer to suspend their belief would be a severe understatement. You go into this movie confident in yourself as a human being and leave questioning your existence. How the characters talk, the things they do, the things they accept as normal are complete nonsense to me but everyone in the movie is completely fine with it and are expecting you to be fine with it too. This casual approach to delivering a world that doesn’t exist in any form makes for a unique and thoroughly unnerving viewing experience.

What story wouldn't be complete without a love interest? This one, even though it has one. Rebellious boy-crazy daughter? Check. Boyfriend with no control or understanding of his hormones? Check. This should spice up the movie but instead delivers what is definitively the worst exposé of acting ever to plague any screen anywhere. The first time these two meet is with the boyfriend (Elliot) sneaking through Holly's window to surprise her by standing over her while she's lifting weights. What follows should have been a series of outtakes but somehow made the final cut instead. I can't even aptly explain how bad this scene is, just watch the movie. It seriously sounds like they're reading their lines for the first time... off cue cards... and not doing a particularly good job. Again, all the elements are there for this to actually register as something remotely believable but instead leaves you feeling like you just witnessed a murder. It is established that Holly’s family hates Elliot and that Holly hates that Elliot has friends. She comes off as kind of clingy and obnoxious but not an implausible character by any means until she starts talking. The only drama conveyed in this relationship is the feeling of disbelief you’re left with after hearing them speak to each other.

At this point I was planning on analyzing Elliot’s group of friends but now that I think about it they had no impact on the story. The script didn't even explain what became of them so I'm not even going to bother telling you about them. Their scenes served to extend the film to feature length but other than that, their characters were as expendable as the entire movie turns out to be... so why bother.

As for the villain in Troll 2, one could assume that it would be the trolls. I guess this true considering they were in the entire movie in one form or another. Basically the whole town of Nilbog, yeah it's “Goblin” backwards, is inhabited by humanoid versions of trolls . Is it clever writing or a low movie budget? I'll give you a's the budget. Looking past the fact that they're actually Goblins and not Trolls, contrary to making any sense at all, there were far too many elements to this particular form of evil. For the sake of explaining this iconic oversight over and over I'm just going to call them Troblins. There were the Troblins, their queen, this stone henge rock thing, I don't know. The queen was their leader for no evident reason other than the fact they can't even name the movie correctly which was named AFTER THEMSELVES. But seriously, I have no idea why she was their queen, she didn't create them or anything, I'm pretty sure she just fed them. She did act like a meth head the whole time so "queen" might be a self-proclaimed title... I'll let it slide. She did, however, channel her power through this rock that had some vague connection to Stonehenge and druids, so that's an important job. The point is that this aspect of the movie was far too convoluted for a film that overlooked seemingly every relevant detail imaginable.

Then there is Grandpa Seth. Grandpa Freakin' Seth. I love and hate this character so much. This is supposed to be the transient soul of the kid's grandfather that acts a mentor throughout the story. It is this responsibility that makes him so memorable. Joshua is constantly asking this guy for advice and he always replies with the stupidest thing possible. The first time he is sought out, Joshua needs to stop his family from eating contaminated food. What does Grandpa Seth do? He doesn't tell him to flip over the table or, hey here's a good idea, tell them that the food is contaminated. GS, who can apparently stop time, gives Joshua thirty seconds to find the solution to this seemingly simple problem. Long story short,  he uses this lapse in the forward progression of time to stand on a chair and pee on the food. Nice going, the both of you. You had two people to solve this dilemma and that's what you came up with? The second interaction worth mentioning is when GS appears to Holly in a mirror even though no one is supposed to able to see him other than the supremely challenged little Joshua. It's a twist! Yeah, no. GS admits to Joshua in a vision after this ordeal that he basically got lost in the house because, and I quote, “I still have to learn the layout of this house.” He even says this defensively! This transcendent being got lost in a freaking house! That's how they chose to explain that away! Later, for whatever reason, GS finds it appropriate to give Joshua a Molotov cocktail. Need I remind you that Joshua is a child? I'm pretty sure giving children an incendiary device is almost always the wrong decision.

Where do we go from here? There are a lot of B movies out there that no one ever talks about and yet people talk about Troll 2 like it’s the Holy Grail. That’s because it is the Holy Grail…of B movies. That’s an important distinction to make. This is the prototypical film that all B movies should try to be but will never actually achieve. There are so many bizarre elements in play that you cannot possibly recreate it to this extent. I mean, any movie that can immortalize a line like “You can’t piss on hospitality, I WON’T ALLOW IT” has clearly done all the wrong things right. No one wants that to be the line that everyone remembers from their movie and few can make that happen even if they wanted to.  It’s the rare combination of amateur actors and a director that barely speaks English that create this completely accidental and yet addictive movie. There is simply nothing else to compare it to. Troll 2 tips the scale on what makes a bad movie to the point that it’s not even revered as a bad movie anymore. It’s so strangely watchable that find yourself wanting more for all the wrong reasons. It’s kind of like watching a train wreck but even that isn’t an accurate metaphor. Yeah you’ll watch a train wreck but you’re not in love with it. No one’s coming up to you after you crash a train congratulating you. It’s like watching a train wreck that turns into a hamster that then grabs a helicopter out of the air and starts shaving with it. Never experienced that before? Go watch Troll 2 and you’ll understand.

In the category of B movies I give Troll 2  a 5 out of 5 mustaches.

In the category of movies in general Troll 2 gets 1/4th of a mustache out of 5.

One Fourth of a Mustache

-Dirty Dave




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