Thanks to this show's blatant social engineering, Judge Paul Corupe has been spending much more time accessorizing.
OMG! Best friendz 4eva!
Hey, remember Troll dolls? Those wild-haired, so-ugly-they're-cure gnomes that sold in the millions throughout the 1960s and became a genuine cultural phenomenon? Yeah, well, everything old is new again—the Trolls are back, reinvented for the modern era by kids entertainment powerhouse DiC as cell phone-toting, spell casting mallrats hoping to enchant a new generation of pre-teen girls with their wildly flowing manes and incredible merchandising clout. The Trollz, as they're now called in these "xtreme" times, are Amethyst, Ruby, Topaz, Onyx, and Sapphire—a group of generously coiffed friends who live in some sort of magical fantasyland that also happens to feature lots of shopping malls and hair salons. The Trollz also possess magical abilities, which become even more powerful when they cast by the entire team, but these fashonistas are usually too preoccupied by the pressures of shopping, meeting cute boy trolls (sorry, trollz), and maintaining their hairdos.
Launched at the same time as a corresponding cartoon show, Trollz: Best Friends For Life The Movie presents a 67-minute adventure for the gals in which Amethyst arrives back home after spending summer with her grandmother and reveals that she has learned to cast spells like the others. Unfortunately, Amethyst's new powers start to cause a rift in the Trollz friendship, and Ruby jealously casts an unpopularity spell on her friend. Then, they try to turn a nerdy boy into a cute catch, but it backfires. Finally, the girls befriend a squeaky-voiced little animal who wants their help to save her master—but is it a trap?
Don't be fooled by the term "movie"—this DVD seems to be three separate half-hour Trollz shows stitched together, as each plot is more or less resolved around the 22-minute mark. The first volume mostly serves to introduce the girls and their spell casting abilities, but it's not bad for what it is, an innocuous little show that's fairly well-written even if it does frequently resort to shopping mall trips and brainless teen slang. What's most interesting about the girls' powers is that they are an obvious reference to menstruation—once Amethyst returns with the ability to cast spells, the gem in her belly glows, and her friends congratulate her on having reached "maturity."
This new DVD series is just one part of a Trollz saturation campaign, an onslaught that includes a website, books, and toys, which DiC hopes will turn the franchise into the next pop culture fad. Unfortunately, to these jaded eyes, their plan is almost so slick and calculated to succeed that the show lacks the heart and originality of some of its peers. Not only does Trollz seem to pick and choose aspects from already popular kiddie properties like Harry Potter, the Bratz, Pokémon, and even Barbie, but it also gives each of the characters a distinct style geared to appeal to different types of personalities no doubt determined by extensive market research, like a Goth, an A+ student, and a ditzy blonde. To borrow a phrase, it's cartoon making by committee rather than by imagination, and it seems sometimes like the show is trying too hard.
The DVD, packaged in a slipcase cover that sports real troll hair, looks and sounds great—as it should, being a brand new computer animated series. In fact, the animation is quite well done, obviously influenced by anime and the blocky Hanna-Barbera style. Extras include a "which Troll are you?" personality quiz, a couple of music videos, and a "Spell Moment" promo bumper for the show. The best extra is a "Trollz journal," a digital diary that can be used just as Amethyst does in the show when inserted into your computer's DVD-ROM drive. You can also print off some Trollz door hangers and note cards and link to the franchise's website. Not a bad set of extras at all.
Though they are a bit vapid, materialistic, and boy-obsessed with their elaborate hair and midriff-baring outfits, the Trollz are at least more wholesome than the skanky Bratz line, and at least they try to include socially responsible messages about friendship and working together. My guess is that young girls are going to eat this series up—just make sure you don't tell them that these Trollz are based on the same doll their square parents used play with then they were kids.
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