Surf and Turf Reviews

The Thing and Trolls: World Tour – A Lesson in Assimilation

For our weekly Two-Movie Tuesday, which I’ve taken to calling our “Surf and Turf” special, my husband and I each pick one movie to watch together. We don’t run the movies by each other first, and sometimes the pairings can get a little… esoteric. That was definitely the case with this week’s line-up, which consisted of the Thing followed by Trolls World Tour

Let’s take a look at each movie individually and then investigate how they did (or did not) work together as a pairing. 

The Thing Review

About 10 minutes into The Thing, I was ready to fall asleep. Other than some guy in a helicopter trying to gun down a dog and a fair amount of casual xenophobia (McReady mixed Norway and Sweden up so much that I’m still not sure which base was actually near them), the opening felt like To Build a Fire. Characters wandered in and out of supposed-Antarctic bases wearing little more than leather jackets, sometimes shrugging them on as they walked outside, and I fully expected the plot to focus on them getting stranded in the cold somewhere. 

It doesn’t help that the only thing I knew about the movie going into it was a single gruesome, poorly-shot picture of the Thing, which I had grabbed from Google in preparation for this review. 

Six years ago, when Vuk and I met, I’d have fallen asleep or started scrolling on my phone during the wearily slow beginning. I’m glad I didn’t, because what followed was a grisly, horrifying mindfuck that was totally worth watching.  Despite being released in the early 80s, the Thing’s sparse setting and lack of CGI’d effects allowed it to hold up over time and still creep me out ever so gently. 

Good choice, Vuk. Solid. 

Chosen By: Husband

Would Have Paired Perfectly With: Gremlins

Overall Rating: 8/10

Trolls World Tour Review

Trolls World Tour was… weird. 

And, honestly, disappointing. 

The first Trolls movie stood out by perfectly pairing beloved music to what was happening in the story. But, despite having a wider arsenal of music at their disposal in Trolls World Tour, this movie missed the mark. They could have done so many cool things with music, but instead seemed to pick songs at random and hammer them awkwardly in place like misshapen Ikea furniture. 

the map was a disappointment

It wasn’t a bad movie. Justin Timberlake still has the voice of an angel. Anna Kendrick still makes the perfect, vivacious Poppy. But the plot was weak, the motivations of the new characters ambiguous, and the music–the driving force behind the original movie–left something to be desired. 

Chosen By: Me

Would Have Paired Perfectly With: Trolls or The Willoughbys

Overall Rating: 4.5/10

3 Similarities Between The Thing and Trolls World Tour

As I mentioned before, this pairing was esoteric. So much so that Vuk all but bet me that I wouldn’t be able to find my requisite 3 similarities to tie the movies together. 

But I did. 

Proving, once again, that women can do anything. #Feminism. 

Here are three (loose) similarities between The Thing and Trolls World Tour. 

The Crazy Old Coot

Although this is a small scene in both movies, it was so strikingly similar that I had to include it as a similarity. Basically, when shit starts to hit the fan, the Old Coot of the civilization loses his goddamn mind and starts destroying stuff. 

In Trolls, it’s played for humor, with Poppy’s dad denying their history and eating the invitation mailed to them by the Queen of Rock. 

It’s less humorous in the Thing when the (scientist? doctor?) realizes any one of them could be possessed by The Thing and begins destroying their communication and transportation to keep from infecting the world. 

I said NO TECHNOLOGY, damn it!

But in both cases, the Old Man sees the end of times on the horizon and decides that destruction of property is the only solution. 

Isolation from The World

Both movies deal with civilizations that have been isolated from the rest of the world for a significant period of time. 

In Trolls, the Pop trolls have been isolated since the six strings of music were separated an uncertain amount of time ago. 

In the Thing, the isolation is due to the main characters being from a scientific research base on Antarctica. 

In both movies, isolation from the rest of the world colors the actions of the characters and is a driving narrative force.

Assimilation

The central theme to both movies is that the antagonistic force is trying to assimilate everything in the world and make it the same. In Trolls, the Queen of Rock is trying to make all trolls Rock n Roll trolls. In The Thing, the monster is trying to make… everything… the thing. 

LOTS OF MEEEEE

Of course, Trolls, as a kids movie, sort of hit you over the head with the moral that individuality is good and sameness is lameness. 

The Thing was less didactic, and at the end of the movie, you still can’t be sure that assimilation hasn’t won out. But the thread of assimilation that ran through both movies actually held them together as a combination and kept the pairing from feeling unpalatable. 

Overall Surf & Turf Rating

The Thing and Trolls World Tour made for a strange combination. I’m all for watching something cheerful after something scary, but there was just something unsettling about moving from the gore of The Thing into the acid-trip that was Trolls World Tour. It wasn’t bad. It was just odd, pairing about as well as ice-cold water and circus peanuts (which, incidentally, is what I ate while watching these movies). 

Double Movie Rating: 5/10. 

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