When is a rainbow more than just a rainbow?
“Trolls Band Together,” the latest installment of the Trolls movie franchise, has garnered mixed reviews on its way to grossing more than $146 million worldwide since its debut in theaters on Nov. 17.
Directed by Walt Dohrn, who directed 2020’s “Trolls World Tour” and co-directed the franchise’s first installment in 2016, “Band Together” stars Anna Kendrick and Justin Timberlake reprising their roles as Poppy and Branch, who are on a mission to rescue one of Branch’s brothers from captivity at the hands of an evil pop duo.
Similar to the franchise’s first two installments, the rainbow — a biblical symbol associated with God’s promise to never again flood the world and appearing in Ezekiel’s vision of the throne of Heaven — is featured prominently throughout the film.
While there is an entire Trolls subculture dedicated to the brand’s rainbow symbolism, in “Band Together” this rainbow imagery appears alongside LGBT icons and symbols in a movie geared primarily toward children and families.
One of the first few scenes in “Band Together” involves a royal wedding ceremony for Poppy’s best friend, Bridget, and King Gristle, two Bergens, monsters who were formerly known for their appetite for trolls.
As guests arrive in Bergen Town for the wedding, a number of rainbow flags can be seen flying above the streets, reminiscent of what one might find at an LGBT pride parade. One villager is seen unfurling one of the rainbow flags as the town makes its last-minute preparations for the wedding.
Far from being a momentary sight, the rainbow flags lining the streets of Bergen Town are featured prominently in the scene and appear to deliberately resemble the same type of LGBT-affirming banners hung everywhere from city halls around the country to mainline Protestant churches to the White House.
During the ceremony, Miss Maxine suggests to the soon-to-be newlyweds that she has had “thousands” of lovers.
“Now, falling in love is easy. We’ve all done it,” Maxine says. “I’ve done it a hundred times. Thousands, even, if you count that semester I spent abroad.”
Another LGBT advocate, Lance Bass, who, along with Timberlake, was a member of the 2000s boy band NSYNC, makes a cameo as Boom, a singer in Kismet, Branch’s own boy band.
While each of the band members are depicted with a signature style or wardrobe — one member, Trickee, wears sports goggles and a “pineapple” hairstyle similar to NSYNC member Chris Kirkpatrick — Boom has rainbow-colored hair.
While even Universal Pictures’ own description of the movie calls “Band Together” a “rainbow-colored family reunion like no other,” director Walt Dohrn told The Christian Post earlier this month he personally holds a high view of traditional families and marriage in particular.
“Family and marriage are two of the most important things to me,” he said. “…Sometimes being in a family is hard. We thought, wouldn't it be great if this movie dealt with those personal issues and what it's like to have siblings, what it's like to be with our parents or be apart from our siblings.”
Dohrn said filmmakers wanted to make the film appeal to all ages with its humor, though he acknowledged that striking that “balance can be tricky.”
“Being funny is important, but making sure we don't offend anybody is important too,” Dohrn added. “But it can be dangerous, but I think sometimes the shock, the surprise of the joke, is what makes you laugh.
"So we tried to walk that line.”