SDCC 2016 – DreamWorks Animation Panel (Trolls and The Boss Baby)

San Diego Comic-Con (SDCC) on Thursday usually means a walk-in Hall H, and 2016 was no different. Even though it showcased films for most of the day, it is not the draw for the crowds like Friday or Saturday.

First up in Hall H on Thursday was DreamWorks Animation’s panel. The headliner for them this year was Trolls. Starring Anna Kendrick and Justin Timberlake as the two main character’s voices, Poppy and Branch, Trolls looks to find an audience in both children and adults alike. The presentation began with co-directors Mike Mitchell and Walt Dohrn coming out to greet the audience and give some background on the film. The toys we are all familiar, surprisingly have no history or mythology attached to them, so it made coming up with a story for them much easier. Because the toys always have a smile and their arms wide open, the directors said their main characteristic is that they are happy, always. Setting himself apart from the resident Trolls is Branch who is grey in color and not up for those 7 second hugs that come like clockwork on their flowering watches. He is methodical and antisocial. One thing he is known for is his knowledge about the Bergens. Bergens are much larger than Trolls and are always depressed. They eat Trolls and get momentarily happy when they do eat one.

During a 16 minute clip shown to the audience, we see the beginning of main plot of Trolls. Poppy’s Troll friends are kidnapped by the Bergens and Poppy tries to convince Branch to help her get them back. When he resists, the rest of her Troll friends are brought in by Poppy to stay with Branch in his bunker. Poppy sets out to go to Bergen land, and thus a song commences. I have to say the tune that Anna Kendrick’s Poppy sings is quite catchy and the dilemma she is put through while she sings it is pretty hysterical. There is a certain aesthetic to the clips seen at SDCC. It is almost like everything is made of felt or really fuzzy material; even the plant-life and bugs have this same look to them. Basically, everything looks like you could pull it out of a really creative stuffed animal section at a toy store. At the end of the song, Branch shows up to save Poppy and they continue on the quest together. They run into a Cloud Guy (voiced by co-director Walt Dohrn), which is just an animated cloud with a face, arms, and legs, who helps them decide which route to take. It’s just a random, funny  character that I am sure is one of many in this wacky, fun film. Eventually, they make it to the Bergen village, where we are greeted by our first look at the ultra-depressive Bergens, which has them singing along to a version of Gorillaz, “Clint Eastwood.”

After this 16 minute clip ends, Anna Kendrick, Justin Timberlake, and producer Gina Shay join both directors on stage. Justin Timberlake also executive produced the music for Trolls. During the Q and A of the panel, we saw two more clips, each containing a new musical number. One is Kendrick’s Poppy singing Branch to sleep with Simon & Garfunkel’s “Sound of Silence.” The other clip was a complete spoiler for the entire film (I am assuming) and was shown to us to highlight another song, this one is Cyndi Lauper’s “True Colors” with Anna and Justin singing for this Trolls version.

At the end, the Trolls panel pretty much had me convinced that this film is going to be a hit for adults and children alike. I have a few friends who I know will buy this soundtrack and see the film. Trolls is in theatres November 14, 2016.

A surprise addition to the DreamWorks animation panel was The Boss Baby, an animated film about a bossy, CEO-type baby taking over his older brother’s world. Alec Baldwin came out on stage for his first SDCC ever, joined by director Tom McGrath and producer Ramsey Naito. We saw one clip from The Boss Baby, which McGrath admitted was being shown to test the film with this audience.

The clip showed the older brother hearing voices from his little baby brother’s room. He sneaks up to the door and sees “Baby” (Alec Baldwin) talking on the phone very business-like. The brother bursts into the room in an “Aha” moment.  The Baby is wearing a business shirt, a tie, a watch, and a diaper. At first shocked that his brother has found out his secret, he eventually just goes with the flow and pretty much thinks that no one will believe his brother.  Does this Baby plan to take over the world or just the family?

The scene shown is okay, and I definitely laughed, but I can see the shtick getting old fast if the rest of the film is like the clip.

After the clip, Alec, Tom, and Ramsey discussed what to expect from The Boss Baby. Alec’s involvement grew out of his voicing a character in Madagascar 2. They first did test lines with Alec repeating lines from Glengarry Glen Ross. Other voices in the cast will be Lisa Kudrow, Jimmy Kimmel, and Steve Buscemi. They also mentioned Patton Oswalt as a voice, but that apparently was not supposed to be released yet. When asked about his brothers being jealous of Alec being at SDCC, he put it plainly, “I’m here and they are not.”

The Boss Baby is in theatres March 31, 2017.


Sarah resides in Dallas where she writes about films and trailers in her spare time when she is not taking care of her animals at the zoo.

You can reach her via email or on Twitter

View all posts by this author