Pastel-pretty and cloyingly sweet, A TROLL IN CENTRAL PARK is strictly for the youngest members of the moviegoing audience. Though adequately directed and shot in rainbow hues, this kid's picture is overweeningly cute and instantly forgettable.
Barrenness reigns in Troll Land, which suits overbearing tyrant Queen Gnorga (Cloris Leachman) just fine. Non-conformist troll Stanley (Dom DeLuise), however, is willing to risk extermination to grow a forbidden garden. Convicted of subversion, Stanley is banished to New York, where, Gnorga is
told, nothing ever grows. Fortunately for Stanley, he winds up in Central Park, where he can twiddle his little green thumb to his heart's content.
Skateboarding Gus (Phillip Glasser) and his baby sister Rosie (Tawney Sunshine Glover) ignore their neglectful parents and set off for an unchaperoned adventure in the park with Gus' remote control boat. Toddler Rosie falls into a drainage ditch in the park, where she meets Stanley. Gus--upset
at momentarily losing his sister--isn't nearly as entranced as Rosie when he meets the troll, whose botanical legerdemain creates an impromptu floor show of dancing flowers. Even less impressed is Gnorga, who can see what's happening via her TV-like Troll-screen and curses her former subject by
causing Gus to cry a flood of tears that nearly drowns them all. After the deluge, the troll and his human buddies go sailing in Gus's ship, which Stanley transforms into a dream vessel.
Gnorga, who's being vilified by the press in her kingdom, heads for New York, planning to annihilate Stanley and the kids and lay waste to Central Park. Stanley is at first hesitant to confront the Queen, and Gnorga trollifies Gus, whose touch then turns Stanley to stone. Finally, however,
Gnorga loses the battle, and love proves stronger than the wicked queen's curse: the ossified Stanley becomes an ordinary troll again, and starts using his horticultural wizardry to re-beautify the devastated park.
Adults will have trouble tolerating the icky sweetness of A TROLL IN CENTRAL PARK, a blandly written and scored film that's far closer to such pablum as THE CARE BEARS MOVIE than to Disney films like BEAUTY AND THE BEAST. Don Bluth, the guiding force behind TROLL, has done much more imaginative
work in the past, and viewers hoping that an animated film will finally take advantage of New York's potential to provide a welcome change from castles and enchanted forests will be sorely disappointed. There's nothing modern or sophisticated about this sugary fairy tale, which is clearly aimed
squarely at a limited audience of very young children who will sympathize with baby-faced Rosie. Loosely inspired by Ursula the Sea Beast in THE LITTLE MERMAID, Gnorga is a slightly more interesting character whose posy-zapping villainy cuts through some of the sweetness and light.
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