by David Cornelius
I remember when “Troll” first hit theaters, and trying to figure out if it was a fantasy, or a comedy, or a horror movie. Of course, I never bothered to actually watch the damn thing to find out. But now, seventeen years later, I finally have watched it, learning that it is a fantasy, a comedy, and a horror movie, and it’s bad at all three.The film opens when the Potters move into their new apartment, only to have young daughter Wendy (Jenny Beck, the blonde alien child from “V: The Final Battle”) wander into a laundry room and get grabbed by Torok (Phil Fondacaro), an evil troll who looks an awful lot like the Muppet troll guy in “Labyrinth.” It’s not clear what happens next; either he’s killed the girl and is magically able to look just like her, or he’s merely possessed her body, although he can also have her change to look like the troll. Or something.
"Sonny Bono + Gary Sandy + giant pickles = genius."
Before I go any further, I’d like to point out that the men of the Potter family are both named Harry. There’s Harry Potter, Sr. (Michael Moriarity), a dorky white guy who inexplicably loves to air guitar to a horrid heavy metal version of “Summertime Blues,” and Harry Potter, Jr. (Noah Hathaway), who’s obsessed with “Star Trek” and thinks his little sister is a pain. It’d be easy to load this review with tons of Harry Potter jokes, but it would be easier to make fun of the fact that Sonny Bono gets turned into a giant pickle. And so I’ll avoid the Potter jokes in favor of Bono-as-pickle humor. I’m lazy, and my punchlines require the path of least resistance.
So while old Harry Potter is busy jamming in his living room to gawdawful 80s rock, young Harry Potter is busy noticing how his bratty little sister isn’t acting bratty as much as she is acting troll-like. But he only has hunches to go on, while we, the audience, know the full truth.
It seems ol’ Torok has a magic ring that causes people to turn into forests, or something. Torok’s first victim is upstairs neighbor Peter Dickinson (Bono), a self-described “swinger” and sex fiend whose name includes both “Peter” and “Dick,” so much for subtlety. Peter is shocked to see Wendy turn into Torok, and is more shocked when he’s stabbed with Torok’s magic ring, and is even more shocked still when he turns into a giant pickle.
Let’s pause for a minute. Sonny Bono. Giant pickle. OK, then.
The giant pickle hatches, and out pop several other trolls, as well as plenty of lush foliage. Torok repeats this technique on downstairs neighbor and ex-Marine Barry (Gary Sandy!!), thereby turning the apartment building into a fantasy world, or something. Always-drunk neighbors Julia Louis-Dreyfus and Brad Hall, by the way, do not get turned into giant pickles, but they do become magically enchanted and start acting like pixies. Or, as I’ve said before, something.
By the way, the trolls have a tendency to break out into song. You have been warned.
There’s another neighbor, a kindly little person named Malcolm (Fondacaro again, in a challenging dual role), and we think he’ll be the one to save the day, but he’s not. No, it’s Harry Jr. who’s out to stop Torok from his giant pickle ways, and rescue his sister, who is no longer a troll, or whatever, or something.
He’s aided by yet another neighbor, Eunice St. Clair (June Lockhart), who keeps a talking mushroom as a pet, so we’re pretty sure she might know a thing or two about this whole giant pickle business. And she does; she used to be a princess, and then she became a witch instead, and somewhere along the way, she’s turned into Anne Lockhart, June’s daughter, for reasons I can only assume had to do with June’s not wanting to make a giant pickle movie any more.
“Troll” (scripted, by the way, by the guy who wrote “Dolls” and “C.H.U.D. II” and directed by the guy who made “The Dungeonmaster” and “Friday the 13th Part VII”) might have actually made a decent feature. Imagine it: a fairy tale world accessible through a common apartment building. Not a bad idea, really. It’s when you start bringing in Gary Sandy and giant pickles into the mix that things start to go south.Still, I’d bet heavy that this is where that Rowling lady got her idea.
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originally posted: 11/14/07 12:45:38