More Info



Transfiguring Adoption awarded this movie 4 Hoots out of 5 based on how useful it will be for a foster/adoptive family. [Learn more about our Hoot grading system here]

Movie Info:

  • Rating: PG (for some mild rude humor)
  • Genre: Animation, Comedy
  • Runtime: 110 Minutes
  • Studio: Dreamworks Animation

From the Cover of Trolls World Tour by Dreamworks Animation:

“Anna Kendrick and Justin Timberlake return in an all-star sequel to DreamWorks Animation’s 2016 musical hit: Trolls World Tour. In an adventure that will take them well beyond what they’ve known before, Poppy (Kendrick) and Branch (Timberlake) discover that they are but one of six different Troll tribes scattered over six different lands and devoted to six different kinds of music: Funk, Country, Techno, Classical, Pop and Rock. Their world is about to get a lot bigger and a whole lot louder. A member of hard-rock royalty, Queen Barb (Rachel Bloom), aided by her father King Thrash (Ozzy Osbourne), wants to destroy all other kinds of music to let rock reign supreme. With the fate of the world at stake, Poppy and Branch, along with their friends – Biggie (James Corden), Chenille (Caroline Hjelt), Satin (Aino Jawo), Cooper (Ron Funches) and Guy Diamond (Kunal Nayyar) – set out to visit all the other lands to unify the Trolls in harmony against Barb, who’s looking to upstage them all.”

[Buy the FULL Comprehensive Review & Discussion Guide]

Transfiguring Adoption’s Overview:

Trolls World Tour (2020) is unique in that this movie directly released to streaming devices amid COVID-19 restrictions across most of the world during the initial release. While this may be a setback for the teams who worked hard to bring this film to our screens, this provided some bonuses for families who struggle to see films in theaters. The flat rate for viewing instead of ticket pricing is very reasonable for families of varying sizes and the ability to control sound and screen brightness are fantastic for allowing children and youth with sensitivity to light and sound to enjoy a new movie like their peers.

Plot-wise, the film is a fun film to view as a family for most ages, young and old alike. There is plenty of slapstick humor, colors for little ones, some subtle culture references, and adult humor thrown in to keep teens and adults interested. This fun Trolls sequel is a must-see for stir-crazy families, during and post-global pandemic!

** Spoilers Could Be Ahead **

How Is This Relevant To Adoption & Foster Care?

Trolls World Tour (2020) does actually feature a character who was raised by a foster community and reunites with the birth family, but this plot point is not central to the film. In addition to the minor plot point with Cooper and the Funk Trolls, there are several themes that are foster and adoptive care-adjacent. By this, I mean that though the concepts are not applied directly to foster or adoptive care these are themes that our young foster children and adoptees do need guidance in navigation. Foster children certainly are susceptible to struggling with appropriate friendship boundaries, like Queen Poppy, due to their level of emotional and social growth being stunted by lack of opportunities for such growth in a safe space. Foster and adoptive children can also struggle with understanding communication being a two-way street and that conflict is a normal part of close relationships, like Queen Poppy and her friends. And in addition to this our kiddos (and caregivers) sometimes struggle with navigating cultural awareness and understanding that, as said in the film, harmony requires different voices and a lot of voices!

This film can have therapeutic value in sparking and working through tough conversations in a way that even younger children can understand with meaningful, simple words and vibrant visual examples.

Discussion Points:

  • Cultural Awareness
    For children and adults alike, this is a very good topic to brush up on. Much like Queen Poppy, some people lack the insight to realize that people do not have to be identical in how they live and believe to develop meaningful relationships. Differences can be wonderful! Learning to appreciate the unique aspects of another’s culture is essential for children who may not have much exposure to those who are different from themselves, much like Queen Poppy, so discussing how harmony is made up of all sorts of voices is a wonderful takeaway for this film.
  • Healthy Relationship Boundaries
    Children who have suffered trauma sometimes develop maladaptive coping and social skills to help them get through chronic stress. However, those same strategies that promoted survival may put them in harm’s way when interacting with adults and children who may not set appropriate boundaries. For this reason it is very important to discuss maintaining healthy relationship boundaries and giving care and mutual respect within those relationships.
  • Communication in Conflict
    Due to trauma and potential exposure to conflicts that become violent, children in the system often struggle with communication and conflict. For one thing, when the traumatized brain senses a potential stressor, that already hyper-vigilant brain will disconnect from the language centers in the prefrontal cortex as fight or flight systems are activated. For another, many children from the system have never been taught appropriate conflict resolution skills and may believe that conflict breaks a relationship indefinitely and will react with grief and anger in kind. For this reason, it is crucial that our children are taught and reinforced that they are loved not matter what and that conflict can be an opportunity for communication to actually improve. By addressing the child’s sense of felt safety the communication skills can be improved through practice and patience from a loving caregiver.

Cautionary Points:

  • Sensory Warning
    With most scenes involving the Techno Trolls and Queen Barb (the Hard Rock Troll Queen) there are lots of flashing lights and booming bass noises. This may be problematic for children with seizure/epilepsy struggles and for children sensitive to intense sensory input. I would advise caution, especially in the film’s opening sequence when the flashing lights are especially intense during a techno rave scene, though Queen Barb’s red/white lighting-like attacks may also present some struggles.
  • Cartoon Violence and Stunts
    While most violent scenes are done in a cartoony, unrealistic way it should be noted that there are sequences of violence between Trolls in the film. Queen Barb frequently using sound waves from her guitar (which resemble red and white laser/lightning bolts) to attack other trolls or (later in the film) to zombify other Trolls. After the Hard Rock Trolls visit different kingdoms, the kingdoms are left ravaged and in ruin with graffiti all over the place. Queen Poppy, Branch, and Biggie also (accidentally) vandalize the town in the Country Trolls’ kingdom during a dance number. And there is a scene where it is discovered that Branch has packed weapons for their journey and this includes sharpened sticks, rocks, and one set of brass knuckles. The brass knuckles are not named as such and are not used on another character, only worn briefly by Queen Poppy as she admires them like jewelry. For stunts there are a lot of sequences of Trolls flying or leaping impossible distances with their hair. Most of these are not so much that the film is not worth viewing, but should be noted for caregivers who have specific struggles with children replicating violence and stunts they have seen.
  • Sequences of Arrest and Jailing
    In the Country Trolls’ kingdom, Queen Poppy, Branch, and Biggie are jailed following the accidental vandalism during their Pop Medley. They attempt to escape before being broken out of jail by a stranger Troll that identifies himself as “Hickory”. They then engage in a chase scene to escape from town including a smaller troll who uses their teeth to apprehend escapees. This is not especially graphic but could be challenging for children and youth who have witnessed police activity of this nature or have parents who have been incarcerated due to triggering memories of past trauma.
  • Onscreen Death of Troll, Depressing Lyrics
    In the Country Troll kingdom a character is featured with a cartoon yellow heart outline beating out of his chest before stumbling back into a coffin in a comedic manner. The sequence occurs during a song that talks about being “born to die”. While the sequence is cartoonish and not overtly graphic and most consumers of Country music know that the genre has a lot of songs pertaining to sadness and suffering, that may not be something our children are used to. This could be challenging for children who are affected by death and depressing elements.
  • Queen Barb Displays Problematic Behaviors
    Queen Barb is portrayed as the primary caretaker of her elderly and sickly father, and as a result has been thrust (most likely prematurely) into her reign. Queen Barb is shown stealing, harming other Trolls, bullying Trolls, hiring bounty hunters for revenge for a perceived slight from Queen Poppy, rough housing and shoving other Trolls, and engaging in risky behavior. Her behavior is addressed through her choices and in the film’s resolution, but we must remember as caregivers that our children may have behaviors that root from surviving traumatic experiences and they may experience a level of relating to Queen Barb due to the trauma exposures they have experienced. Caregivers should be mindful of kiddos who may be influenced by seeing Queen Barb throwing destructive temper tantrums and justifying harming other Trolls and be prepared to challenge their children to focus on her growth at the end. This is crucial as at the end of the film Queen Barb learns she can still be her unique self without hurting others with maladaptive strategies.
  • Sequences Involving Abduction of Characters – One by a Birth Family
    These scenes range from bounty hunters being hired by Queen Barb to capture Queen Poppy to Cooper being abducted by a UFO-like vehicle that turns out to be piloted by his biological parents. While children and teens may have varied responses to these themes, Cooper’s side story may be triggering for children who either have endured a kidnapping event or struggle with returning to the birth family. In this, Cooper was apparently taken in by the Pop Trolls as his origin was previously unknown. Cooper decides to look for Trolls like him upon learning there are other Trolls outside of the community. During this search Cooper is stranded in a desert and picked up by a UFO-like craft. It is then he discovers it is his biological family, who has been looking for him since his egg was taken by a bird prior to his birth. Cooper immediately bonds with his biological family and appears to plan to remain with them. This may be especially challenging with the theme of appearing abducted by the biological parents as well as the story of how Cooper came to the Pop Trolls to begin with as often our children have varying stories as to how they enter state custody and/or become adopted. They may also have varied feelings about reunification with the birth family, especially in cases where parental rights have been severed due to abuse and neglect. Though this is considered a minor plot point, it is important that a caregiver be mindful of this potential trigger.
  • Inappropriate Humor
    While most “inappropriate humor” would fall under the realm of toilet humor (i.e. – character pooping a cake in fear, character splitting his pants and showing butt, etc.) there are a couple of innuendos present in the film. These may not be identified by children (or in once case even teens) but caregivers should be aware for teens and children who maybe lack a filter. The most obvious one is at the very end of the film where King Grizzle realizes he missed being in the film and says “Oh balls!” When admonished for this he clarifies he was referring to cheese balls he had made and holds up some cheese balls for dipping crackers. The less obvious one involves the first scene when a rave is occurring. Prior to the base dropping in the song, the sound box begs and begs for the bass to drop and, upon being pressed, relaxes briefly as if it has climaxed. This is done very briefly (I would have missed it had I not seen a trailer with the sequence a few times) but may be picked up on by a child or teen who has witnessed sexual acts and could be triggering in some cases.There is also a trippy-sequence involving the Smooth Jazz Troll initiating a sequence akin to someone using hallucinogenic substances to lure Queen Poppy and Branch into capture. This, again, is not one that will affect all kids and teens but may be triggering for children who have either used/been exposed to such substances or have witnessed caregiver use of substances.

Discussion Guide:

  1. What makes all the trolls different from one another?
    Caregiver Note: This can be a wonderful question to spark a discussion on the different between race, ethnicity, and culture. These words (even by adults) are often used interchangeably when in reality they each mean different things. Race is the more specific out the terms referring to commonalities in features such as appearance (i.e. – skin color). Ethnicity is more broad but accounts for different pieces of cultural expression such as language, regional/national-origins, religion/spirituality, art, music, food, etc. Culture is a more-broad term that refers to a set of shared values that mobilizes a group of people towards common goals and can even include things like the workplace and occupational values and energies. So, for example, though my partner and I share race and some ethnic pieces (such as religion, child rearing, occupations, etc.) we have a lot of different ways that we express ourselves due to other parts of our cultural heritage (i.e. – my family is from all over the American Southeast and his family is from a small rural town in the American Midwest). This does not make one of us better than the other, but there are times where we must be mindful of our differences in how we communicate with one another with care and respect.With that  being said, in the movie we can observe that the kingdoms are all comprised of Trolls… but there are so many different kinds of trolls that appear to share racial traits (i.e. – fins, wings, bipedal, quadrupedal, etc.) and different ethnic traits (i.e. – food, music preferences, dress, traditions, values/beliefs, community structures, etc.), and an amazing blend of cultures that even manifest in new cultural groups throughout the film (i.e. – Yodeling Trolls, Smooth Jazz Trolls, Reggeton Trolls, K-Pop Trolls, etc.) that are similar to other Trolls (i.e. – Pop, Funk, Country, etc.) but are still distinct in specific traits that continue to add to the harmony of Troll-kind!
  2. Queen Poppy and Queen Barb are similar in that they believe Trolls should be united together. What makes their beliefs different in how they express unity?
    Caregiver Note: Now granted, Queen Poppy also struggles with this at first, but she does eventually learn a huge lesson about ethnocentrism (meaning, evaluating other cultures according to preconceptions originating in the standards and customs of one’s own culture)… and that harmony is not the same as assimilation. Queen Poppy started to learn this when she, Biggie, and Branch came to the Country Trolls kingdom and decided that the country trolls needed to be “cheered up.” Queen Poppy had not been exposed to different cultures that express emotions differently and didn’t understand yet that Country music is known for expressing deep, and sometimes sad, emotions and can have value in this expression. Rather than trying to “fix” the Trolls, Queen Poppy would have been more successful in her endeavor for harmony had she tried to understand why the Country Trolls expressed themselves through music this way. It takes Queen Poppy a while to get the hang of this, but just like Queen Poppy we learn through having more experiences with people that are different from us. Eventually, in spite of the tough history the Pop Trolls had as the original perpetrators to cultural silencing, Queen Poppy is able to work through and learn that there can still be harmony in differences.Queen Barb mirrors the beliefs of the historic Pop Trolls as she believes unity can only be achieved by having all Trolls assimilate under her own culture and beliefs, which is very much cultural assimilation and not healthy for true harmony. As one character says, “Denying our differences is denying who we are.” It’s important to note how, though it takes time, Queen Poppy learns from her experiences with different troll cultures and learns to value other cultural expressions rather than trying to control and assimilate like Queen Barb does without considering the desires of the Troll kingdoms she invades.
  3. Why is it important the Trolls pointed out that the Pop Trolls maps and textbooks are different? What did Prince D mean when he said history is written by the victors?
    Caregiver Note: Though we hope that information given in the classroom is factual and without bias, regional and political bias this is indeed a trend seen even in American textbooks. I can speak from experience, as a middle-schooler in East Tennessee circa 2005 I had a history textbook that referred to the Civil War as the War of Northern Aggression – a clear indicator that the text was probably written by someone sympathetic to the Confederacy. Thankfully, I had a wonderful history teacher that used this as a teachable moment for my classmates and I to be mindful of how easily cultural bias can influence historic accounts and how to research multiple accounts to better understand the overall event.Now, in my textbook example the account did not come from the victors but in many circumstances we forget that history can be altered through the eyes of those that record it or even study it from other accounts. This is an opportunity to talk to your children about how perceptions of historical events can change over time by how our culture gives the information meeting and by how others perceive the conflict.
    King Pop was clear in his account that he viewed the conflict as all Trolls were involved in conflict. The accounts from other Troll kingdoms reveal to us that King Pop, probably a little biased himself by believing Pop was indeed the best music, was monopolizing the strings and this specifically led to the Troll kingdoms isolating from one another. And because of how Queen Poppy was taught about this conflict, it took some hard mistakes in meeting other Trolls due to her repeating that cycle… in this case perpetuating the Pop Troll’s belief that music is exclusively to bring joy and cheer up is the only way to utilize music because that is what she and her village valued and used social energy to pursue. She was evaluating the other Trolls compared to her own standards, rather than seeing the beauty in expressing sorrow like the Country Trolls (as Branch observed) or allowing other’s to share their ideas in resolving conflict with the Rock Trolls (such as when she tried to jump in and “fix” or “help” when observing the Country Trolls, Funk Trolls, and even in some ways the Rock Trolls). We need to learn what is good or meaningful in our culture does not supersede the importance of values in other’s cultures and perspectives. Instead, this can be an opportunity to stop, really listen, and learn to appreciate what makes each voice different in the context of harmony (like Queen Poppy eventually started to learn after hearing the Funk Trolls’ experience with international Troll relations).
  4. Activity: Tiny Culture Diamonds
    Caregiver Note: Like a diamond, every person has several facets of themselves that relate to various parts of their cultural identity. This can include, but is not limited to: race, national origin, language, values, religion/spirituality, occupation, socioeconomic status, etc. We see this throughout the film, but we notice with Tiny Diamond and Cooper that sometimes kids have different cultural facets from their parents, even if some are familiar. Tiny Diamond and Cooper both share physical and genetic traits to that of their families. However, because of Cooper being raised by the Pop Trolls, his heart is beating with a Pop rhythm and he dresses in the style akin to his friends. Tiny Diamond also shows a slight deviation from his father in that he is more inclined toward Hip-Hop beats, likely due to part to generational culture aspects, though he looks exactly like his father. In the same way, we as caregivers must remember that our children (foster, adoptive, biological, etc.) are not going to be carbon copies a parent’s cultural identity but may share a small piece of this… and that’s totally great! As is said throughout the film harmony requires lots of different voices and so do our communities.To help illustrate this, print off or draw a large diamond with your child. Then, help them name different parts of their own diamond facets. Draw one for yourself as well as an example. Talk to your child about their unique ethnicity (common cultural heritage shared by a particular group), and culture (shared values that mobilizes a group towards a common goal) while naming these pieces, race being towards the diamond’s point, ethnicity being around the middle, and cultural components comprising of the top facets. Talk about which ones are the same and which ones are different. It’s important to note to that, as shown in the film, there is no “right” culture and that this is an opportunity to help your child identify parts of their cultural identity to be proud of and learn to celebrate the parts of them that makes them unique. And as a bonus, you as a parent may learn about a holiday or tradition that child may value that you can help them access.
  5. Queen Poppy and Branch seem to struggle with “making a connection” with a high five. Why are they struggling if they are best friends?
    Caregiver Note: Children need to be taught to connect feelings to behaviors, especially if they are lacking in social and emotional competence due to trauma. For a child who has lived a life in hyper-vigilance and reactivity the ability to slow down and think through these connections first can be quite a challenge. That’s why a caregiver may struggle with a child blurting out mean things or becoming aggressive when conflict is sensed and have no idea why they acted out in such a manner. Help your child connect that because Queen Poppy and Branch are not connecting well because they are not communicating well (i.e. – Queen Poppy not listening to Branch and other friends, Branch not being honest about how he feels about Queen Poppy, etc.) and how this affects their friendship with one another.
  6. What happens when Queen Poppy only hears what she wants to hear and doesn’t consider Branch’s opinion? What happens when she does start to listen to Branch and her other friends?
    Caregiver Note: Giving children a direct example will help with understanding the consequences of their actions. For example, when Queen Poppy doesn’t listen to her friends she puts them in danger, puts her home in danger, disrespects Trolls who express their music differently, and eventually ends up alone when her friends are tired of being treated poorly. When Queen Poppy does listen to others she is able to show mutual respect toward other Trolls and develop positive relationships, have a better connection with Branch and the gang, and is able to bring about the harmony and party she originally hoped for (and it was better than she could have planned).
  7. Queen Poppy wants to be best friends very quickly, but Queen Barb says that best friends are made with time and mutual respect and care. How does a new friendship compare with an older friendship?
    Caregiver Note: Children who have endured trauma often have many roadblocks to developing appropriate relationships. Some children, like Queen Poppy, want too much closeness too fast and either struggle with getting hurt or being seen as too clingy. Other children may push people away with self-sabotaging behaviors to protect themselves from getting hurt like Queen Barb. Talk to your child about how building a relationship slowly with trust and care allows for friendships to develop and for the child to know if this is a good relationship to develop or a potentially toxic relationship.
  8. What does mutual respect and care mean? What does that look like in a good friendship?
    Caregiver Note: Help your child think of ways friendships make them feel good about themselves and others and grow as better versions of themselves. For example, listening to one another, encouraging one another, helping out in difficult times, remembering things a friend values, supporting one another’s interests, speaking up when trouble is brewing, talking through differences, celebrating differences, etc. This will be a good way to help your child think about different qualities they want in safe friendships and how to be a better friend themselves. Children hear a lot about what not to do, so hearing what they can do and who they can befriend is very helpful.
  9. When Queen Poppy breaks pinky promises, doesn’t listen to her friends, and tries to make people do what she wants is that showing mutual respect and care? Would you want to be friends with someone that does that?
    Caregiver Note: This question will allow a caregiver to give a child a comparison to that positive list of friendship qualities. Again, children who have endured trauma may struggle with connecting feelings and behaviors. Queen Poppy seems very fun and exciting, and other Trolls are drawn to her upbeat attitude, so it may be difficult for a child to understand that “fun” does not equate to “good”. Of course, thankfully Queen Poppy does eventually listen to her friends and turn things around using better communication skills and showing mutual respect and care in her friendships after this, so it’s also important to talk to your child about working through conflict appropriately and giving someone a chance when their actions show true change.
  10. Activity: Gumdrop Headphones
    Caregiver Note: While gumdrops should NEVER be inserted in the ears like Queen Poppy or Hickory did in the film, they are fantastic for building structures and helping support motor skill development. Usually in most activities it’s recommended to use them to make buildings (and you absolutely can) but for a Trolls twist it is fun to try to musical tools with gumdrops and toothpicks. Challenge your kiddos to first try to make a set of headphones, providing another avenue that Queen Poppy could have tried for reducing sound. Another option is for each person to draw the name of an instrument or musical tool from a bowl (pictures for youngsters, words for older kiddos) and to try to guess each person’s musical tool. When it comes to something as pliable but sturdy as a gumdrop, there are plenty of options!

About the Author: Rachael Rathe

Rachael B. Rathe is an East Tennessee native with a Bachelor of Arts Degree in Psychology with a Minor in Child & Family Studies from The University of Tennessee Knoxville. She has worked in mental health since 2013 and in foster care/adoptions for a private provider agency since 2014. Rachael was inspired to work in the field after working with children and teens on a volunteer basis 2008 – 2013. Rachael’s ideal self-care day involves snuggling on a couch with her kitties (Tabitha, Fergus, and Rufus) while enjoying a good movie or book. She also enjoys galavanting around conventions concerning all things nerd and geekery.

**Transfiguring Adoption is a nonprofit organization seeking to nurture growth in foster and adoptive families by giving a HOOT about their families. Transfiguring Adoption does not intend for its reviewers nor its review to be professional, medical or legal advice. These reviews and discussion guides are intended to help parents to better be able to connect and understand their children who come from traumatic backgrounds.

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