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Dreamworks Animation panel with Trolls and The Boss Baby (Comic Con 2016)

Today is the first full day of San Diego Comic Con 2016 and things started out with the first panel by a movie studio. Dreamworks Animation led off the festivities in Hall H and kept the focus on a pair of films rather than showcasing their future slate over the next year. With stars in attendance, Dreamworks led off with a big presentation of their Christmas release, TROLLS. We were then treated to a surprise panel for next year's THE BOSS BABY complete with a special appearance from star Alec Baldwin. Check out the details below.

SDCC, Comic Con, Dreamworks Animation, Trolls, The Boss Baby, Anna Kendrick, Justin Timberlake, Alec Baldwin

TROLLS

From directors Mike Mitchell (SHREK FOREVER AFTER, SKY HIGH) and Walt Dohrn, TROLLS is a movie that should not work. Based on the fad toy troll dolls from the 1960s, TROLLS has a talented cast featuring Anna Kendrick and Justin Timberlake, both of whom were in attendance for the Comic Con debut of over 20 minutes of footage from the film. At this point you are probably thinking that there is no way this movie could be any good, but we were pleasantly surprised to find that it is fun, vibrant, and likely to be a big hit this holiday season.

The footage showcased was from the second act of the film and follows Princess Poppy (Anna Kendrick) after several of her fellow trolls are taken by the evil Bergens. The Bergens are a large race of creatures who do not feel happiness and happen to eat trolls. Poppy is a vibrant and happy troll who sings and dances and hugs her friends. She seeks out Branch (Justin Timberlake) who is gray and drab and refuses to sing or dance after an unexplained incident with the Bergens. When Branch refuses to help, Poppy sets out on her own for the Bergen village to save her friends. We are treated to a musical number, "Get Back Up Again" which highlights the positive outlook of the princess as she fights through certain doom. The second song was a more somber duet of Cyndi Lauper's "True Colors" between Poppy and Branch from the end of the film.

SDCC, Comic Con, Dreamworks Animation, Trolls, The Boss Baby, Anna Kendrick, Justin Timberlake, Alec Baldwin

In discussing the film, directors Mitchell and Dohrn explained that after working together on the SHREK franchise, they wanted to revisit similar territory and decided to go with trolls. The troll dolls had an unexplained origin which gave them the freedom to invent one full of positive messages and an overriding sense of happiness. TROLLS is full of positive vibes and even the most nihilistic viewers will find themselves smiling and tapping their feet to the music.

The Justin Timberlake produced soundtrack features four original songs by Timberlake along with reworkings of Simon and Garfunkel tunes as well as more current songs like "Clint Eastwood" by Gorillaz. Timberlake said he had never written original songs for a film like this which was a unique experience. Mike Mitchell said they referred to Timberlake as their "sonic wizard" as his music was the gauge for the tone of the film. Kendrick was humble about her singing talents and said her friends told her she sounds more like herself when singing as Poppy than in any previous films.

The additional cast was not featured in the footage shown to us in Hall H, but the cast includes a talented array of performers including Gwen Stefani, James Corden, Christopher Mintz-Plasse, Ron Funches, Jeffrey Tambor, Zooey Deschanel, Quvenzhané Wallis, Russell Brand, Christine Baranski, and the great John Cleese as the Bergen King. The design and feel of the film was inspired by the 1970s. Producer GIna Shay says the Trolls were inspired by things like shag carpeting and ABBA while the Bergens are steeped in leisure suits and polyester. The design of the visuals itself gives the film a unique vibe that makes everything look like it is made out of fabric and plush materials. It gives this movie even more of a distinct visual flair that should make it a hit with kids of all ages.

FINAL THOUGHTS: TROLLS is going to be a big hit for Dreamworks, no doubt. As a sung through musical, TROLLS is going to aim at the same target audience that made FROZEN a massive success. But, there is an edge to the humor here that will set the film apart and hopefully prevent audiences from labeling it as a "girl movie". The music is very upbeat and you will find yourself singing them to yourself as soon as the characters start on screen. Definitely a pleasant surprise to see.

TROLLS opens in theaters on November 4, 2016.

SDCC, Comic Con, Dreamworks Animation, Trolls, The Boss Baby, Anna Kendrick, Justin Timberlake, Alec Baldwin

SDCC, Comic Con, Dreamworks Animation, Trolls, The Boss Baby, Anna Kendrick, Justin Timberlake, Alec Baldwin

THE BOSS BABY

As a surprise, Dreamworks also treated us to a panel for next year's THE BOSS BABY starring Alec Baldwin. Baldwin is known for his deep, gravelly voice which he has lent to other Dreamworks films like MADAGASCAR 2 and RISE OF THE GUARDIANS, but direct Tom McGrath knew that he was the perfect choice for this movie about sibling rivalry between brothers. Baldwin even made a nice jab about his famous siblings. When he was asked about dealing with success in their family, Baldwin replied "well, I am here and they aren't." Baldwin praised the animation work on these films and called out the great studios like Dreamworks and Pixar. 

In the footage screened, we saw two sequences from the film. In the first, older brother Tim (voiced by Miles Bakshi, grandson of animation legend Ralph Bakshi) discovers his infant brother talking on a conference call with the deep adult voice of Alec Baldwin. The baby proceeds to lay everything out in cold, business-like delivery reminiscent of the actor's iconic role in GLENGARRY GLEN ROSS. In fact, Tom McGrath told us that the original test for this film was using baby footage from the film MEGAMIND overlayed with the audio of Baldwin in David Mamet's movie. Despite a plea from Chris Hardwick, don't hold your breath to see that as a special feature on the eventual Blu-ray.

SDCC, Comic Con, Dreamworks Animation, Trolls, The Boss Baby, Anna Kendrick, Justin Timberlake, Alec Baldwin

The second scene showcased gave us a look at an action setpiece from the film in which Boss Baby and his playdate crew try to retrieve an audio cassette that would prove he can talk. As Tim tries to get the tape to his parents (voiced by Lisa Kudrow and Jimmy Kimmel), the events play out like a Hollywood action movie. There are cars, explosions, leaping characters, and Nerf guns aplenty. All of this is delivered with the pacing of your typical PG-13 blockbuster but with kids in diapers. It was insane to see that a movie like this even exists, but we were laughing our asses off.

The screenplay for THE BOSS BABY is based on a children's book but was adapted by AUSTIN POWERS co-writer Michael McCullers which explains the bizarre slant to the tale. Chris Hardwick asked about the rest of the voice cast which includes Steve Buscemi as the main villain who also happens to be a baby and Patton Oswalt in an undisclosed role. The movie also harkens back to McGrath's roots as a two-dimensional animator. There is zero realism here as the goal of the film was to make it look like a cartoon. Trust me, there was never a question watching this footage as to whether this film is grounded in reality.

FINAL THOUGHTS: THE BOSS BABY is looking like another win from Dreamworks. The studio has gone out on a limb with some of their material and it has bitten them at the box office (see MEGAMIND, TURBO), but THE BOSS BABY looks like it is aiming at the same demographic that made BIG HERO 6 and THE CROODS such big hits. It also looks like it has a good amount of heart behind the story while keeping the humor at a level that will keep parents and children entertained.

THE BOSS BABY hits theaters on March 31, 2017.

SDCC, Comic Con, Dreamworks Animation, Trolls, The Boss Baby, Anna Kendrick, Justin Timberlake, Alec Baldwin

Source: JoBlo.com

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