Dreamworks Animation SDCC Panel Recap

The Dreamworks Animation Panel took place yesterday in Hall H at San Diego Comic Con 2016, and I was there to see it all. They showed footage and had panel discussion for two films: Trolls and The Boss Baby. Let’s jump right in and I’ll break down all the details from the presentation.

Trolls

First thing’s first, yes, this is a piece of merchandise-based entertainment, based on the Troll dolls you all remember from your childhood. But like last year’s LEGO Movie it doesn’t seem like a pure cash grab; based on the footage screened it’s got real heart.

Which is kind of the point; during the panel directors Mike Mitchell and Walt Dohm stressed that their goal with Trolls was to make a movie explicitly about happiness, and about making people happy. Happiness is the quality that defines the troll characters. They love to sing and have regularly scheduled hug times throughout the day.

Anna Kendrick plays Poppy, the queen of the trolls and the happiest of them all. Justin Timberlake plays Branch, who is an extremely negative troll, pretty much Poppy’s exact opposite. When the evil Bergens kidnap some trolls, basically so they can get high on happiness by eating them, Poppy and Branch team up to save them.

The footage screened was an extended portion of the second act, as Poppy first tries to get Branch’s help, but then sets off alone when he refuses. There’s a fun musical number where Poppy sings about how everything is gonna be fine while being chased and eaten by various colorful monsters.

The song was an original number, but there were also very smart rearrangements of The Sound of Silence and Gorillaz’ Clint Eastwood. Justin Timberlake served as the music supervisor and producer on the film, and recorded four new tracks for the movie, including his recently released single Can’t Stop the Feeling.

There was another piece of footage screened, but it takes place at a pretty key moment of the third act of the film, so I won’t spoil it for you. All the footage was very appealing though; Kendrick and Timberlake have great chemistry, and obviously they both know how to sing pretty well. The animation was intensely colorful, with lots of interesting designs for the crazy monsters Poppy encounters that really defy description.

Trolls hits theaters November 4, 2016

The Boss Baby

Boss Baby

After the Trolls panel we got a look at The Boss Baby, an animated feature based on the picture book of the same name by Marla Frazee. It stars Alec Baldwin as the titular Boss Baby, a fast-talking, suit-wearing baby who shows up to seven-year-old Tim’s house one day in a taxi. Tim discovers that the baby can talk and vows to expose him to their parents.

Director Tom McGrath described the movie as a story of sibling rivalry, as the baby threatens to usurp all the love that Tim’s parents have for him for himself. One sequence screened was a fun action sequence, where Tim and the baby are fighting over possession of a tape recording of the baby talking. The baby and his baby posse chase Tim through the backyard in a sequence that reaches the scale of an explosive action movie thanks to the children’s imaginations.

Alec Baldwin seems to be perfectly cast as the baby. McGrath said they really never considered anyone else for the part. As a test, they made up footage of an animated baby delivering Baldwin’s speech from Glengarry Glen Ross, which sealed the deal on his casting. Tim is voiced by the grandson of legendary animator Ralph Bakshi, who gave McGrath his start in animation. Other cast members include Steve Buscemi, Lisa Kudrow, and Jimmy Kimmel.

The movie looks like a lot of fun, honestly much more in my personal wheelhouse than Trolls. It’ll be in theaters on March 31, 2017.

And that’s all she wrote on the Dreamworks Animation Hall H panel. Are you excited for Trolls or The Boss Baby? Let us know in the comments.

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