Trolls – Movie Discussion
Trolls is a bit ridiculous, but then again, it will surprise you with its depth. It’s able to make some smart statements about the world around us and our absurd demands for happiness through the things we consume because it is so ridiculous. Bergens were unhappy and thought that eating the trolls who were very happy would make them happy, too. We know that eating a happy person won’t make us happy. We know that. It’s silly. And yet, the premise is actually extremely insightful. We do have this idea that we can “consume” happiness. We demand that our entertainment and our friends and our parents and our children and yes, even our food (eating isn’t so far off, after all)…all these external things, people and circumstances... make us happy (and/or make our loved ones/children/etc. happy). In the end, the Bergens learn that happiness isn’t something we put inside us, but something that is inside us. It’s from within…it’s just that sometimes other people help us find it. This is a decent enough message, and as I said, a bit of a pointed statement about our cultural pursuit of happiness.
This is good (and obvious), but there is so much more if you look a little deeper!
Trolls is also very much the story of the good news of Jesus. It sounds a bit trite to say Jesus came to make us happy and it falls a bit short of all that he came to bring us, but it’s not untrue. He came to make us holy and righteous and free. He came to save us from our sins so that we could have a relationship with Him and live on earth as it is in Heaven and then go to Heaven for eternity. All things we were created for. All things that will bring happiness to our lives. He came so that we could learn to be content in all circumstances and so that we could have the fruit of His Spirit, including love and joy and peace… This all sounds a lot like happiness, don’t you think?!
The problem was, before Jesus came, people lived under the law, a law which dictated how they ate, among other things. The law didn’t make people happy, but it revealed to them that external things, behavior and even works (what they did and even ate…believe it or not, that was kind of a big deal—Trolls wasn’t too far off!) wouldn’t make them truly happy. Righteousness and holiness and happiness aren’t about what you put inside of you (what you do), but it’s about who you are, in Christ. It’s about Christ IN you. We just needed Jesus to show us the way.
Jesus sacrificed His life to pay for our sins so that we could be truly happy and free. This freed the Jews who chose to accept it, but there were still the Gentiles who were stuck in their sins and misery. Just as Poppy freed the trolls so that they were free and happy, but the Bergens were still lost and miserable.
Poppy had been saying all along to Branch, the unhappy troll, that “Happiness is for everyone.” When she said everyone, however, she meant every troll. After she got to know Bridget, the love sick Bergen, she realized she needed to redefine who “everyone” was. And if she included Bridget in her definition of “everyone,” then ALL the Bergens should be included. This is when the Trolls became evangelists. They stopped seeing the Bergens as enemies, and instead saw them as beings to be loved and saved no different than they had risked their lives to save the other trolls.
This same thing happened in the Bible, when Jesus revealed to Paul and his disciples that his salvation wasn’t just for the Jews, it was for EVERY one—Jews, Gentiles, enemies and friends alike. The Christians became evangelical, reaching out to those around them to help them find the salvation, the joy and love and happiness in Christ that they had been searching for. This is one of the little gems in the movie…
Enemies, Understood and Redefined
… The Bergens had been enemies, buy really, they were just hungry. They thought they were hungry for trolls, but they were really hungry for happiness. When they found what they were looking for, they were no longer enemies. We would do well to see our enemies with that same compassion, to see what they are really hungry for and help them find it. Because Christ (and happiness) is for everyone.
A few last teachable moments
- Your confidence gives me strength: Sid said that to Poppy after she cheered him on. “Come on Sid; I know you can do it!” And he did. It’s true—others gain strength from our confidence in them. It’s a great reminder to encourage others.
- Take captive every thought and make it obedient to Christ: The movie itself is a bit of a lesson in the power of positive thinking. That sounds very self-helpish but it’s actually also very scriptural. Dr. Caroline Leaf (a neuroscientist and Christian) has some amazing, very powerful videos on the web showing how science is actually catching up to the Bible and proving it to be true and right in this area. Our thoughts are creative. They create reality. Thoughts that align with Christ create structures and pathways and health in our brain. (Thoughts that are not in alignment with Christ actually create deformed and twisted structures in our brain that are harmful to our health. It’s fascinating – look her up!) Poppy struggles with her thoughts as she heads off on a dangerous mission to rescue her friends. “What if it’s more than I can take? No! I’m not gonna think that way… I will get up again.” You hear her wrestle with fears and negativity and pessimism… but then choose to think differently. She’s a great role model for us in this. The Bible says to think about things that are “true, noble, right, pure, lovely, admirable, excellent or praiseworthy” (Philippians 4:8). I think you’ll find that her thoughts are pretty well in alignment with this, even though she’d just call it being positive and happy. As Christians, we have the added bonus of knowing that God can and is working out all things for the good (Romans 8:28). How much easier is it for us to think positively when we know we have an all-powerful God who loves us and is in perfect control of all things?!
- Our attitudes are contagious: Poppy’s joy and optimism affected everyone around her for the good. Branch and Bridget were both changed because of Poppy’s joy. Conversely, when she lost hope (and therefore her happiness/joy), she lost her vibrancy and color. When she lost hers, all of her people did as well. Our attitudes are contagious, so it’s all the more important that we protect them—for ourselves and for each other. It’s also a reminder that it matters who we surround ourselves with. We will catch the attitudes of the people around us, so choose wisely!
- Darkness makes you feel small: Both Branch and Poppy struggle at times with darkness, and when they do, you see both of them feeling small. When they find the light of hope and joy, both of them become more radiant. They become larger and brighter personalities. Darkness (sadness, sin, grief, negativity, etc.) makes you feel small.
Questions for Discussion:
- Do you think Jesus came to make us happy? Why or why not?
- How are we like the Bergens in our quest for happiness? What things do we expect to make us happy?
- When Poppy said everyone deserved to be happy, why didn’t she think of the trolls as part of “everyone”? What changed that for her? Why did the early Christians not think that Jesus was for everyone? What changed that for them?
- What are some ways that you can find out what your “enemies” are really hungry for?
- Do you think that Christ is the answer for our hungers?
- Confidence gives people strength. How can you encourage people better? Who do you think needs encouragement in your life?
- How can you practice taking your thoughts captive? Are your thoughts more like Poppy’s or Branch’s most often?
- If God says to only think about things that are “true, noble, right, pure, lovely, admirable, excellent or praiseworthy” (Philippians 4:8)—then how would you say you’re doing in your thought life?
- If attitudes are contagious, then take a look at the people in your life and at the things you watch and listen to… If you become like those things, what will your attitude become?
- Why do you think darkness makes us feel small? Do you feel larger or smaller when you are happy? When you are sad?