The film features the voice talents of Dom DeLuise as Stanley, Phillip Glasser as Gus, Tawny Sunshine Glover as Rosie, Cloris Leachman as Queen Gnorga, Hayley Mills as Hilary, Jonathan Pryce as Alan and Charles Nelson Reilly as King Llort.
Stanley is a kindhearted troll with a magic green thumb that can create flowers with a mere touch. In the Kingdom of Trolls, all beauty is strictly forbidden and they are required to be mean and ugly and to scare humans whenever possible. As a result, Stanley hides all the flowers he finds or grows from the other trolls.
When Gnorga, the Queen of Trolls, discovers Stanley's secret, she banishes him to Manhattan to live a life proper for a troll. He lands in Central Park, and proceeds to hide himself away from the world.
Two children, Gus and his baby sister Rosie, accidentally find Stanley hidden under the bridge in Central Park, and he befriends them; eventually carrying them in a dreamboat through the utopia he hopes to create. After Gnorga discovers he is in Central Park surrounded by beauty and happiness, she follows him there to make sure her punishment is carried out properly. She kidnaps Rosie and turns Gus into a troll.
Although he is afraid to face her, Stanley ultimately engages her in a contest of wills, where in she is changed into a rosebush and sent home unhappy. During her transformation, Gnorga changes Stanley into a stone figure of himself, only to be swept away by the undoing of her own spells.
Gus and Rosie, heartbroken, return Stanley to the destroyed park and leave his forlorn image on a tree stump. Gus's right thumb momentarily glows green, and he uses it to revive Stanley. Restored to life, he covers New York City with his garden.
The production began in 1990, following the near-completion of the film Rock-A-Doodle. Don Bluth told his employees to put their best in the film and if they didn't, they could "go plant themselves in another garden." A while after Bluth said that, some animators left to work at Disney.
Originally, Buddy Hackett and Robert Morley recorded the voices for the roles of Stanley and King Llort, but they were later replaced by Dom Deluise and Charles Nelson Reilly.
The film was completed in 1992, but it wasn't released until October of 1994 due to production issues and the producers deciding to release the film Thumbelina first.
"A Troll in Central Park" did poorly at the box office, grossing only $71,368 domestically.
On a budget of $23,000,000, it grossed less than 0.33% of its budget, making it Don Bluth's lowest-grossing film to date, though not his film to lose the most money overall.
Gary Goldman has said the reason for the film's poor performance was because it was released without any sign of promotion and its release was limited. He also stated that its distributor Warner Bros. didn't have any confidence in the film.
"A Troll in Central Park" was critically panned upon its release, with the film currently holding a score of 17% based on six reviews, five negative and one positive, from Rotten Tomatoes. Its audience score is also a 'Rotten' 45%.
TV Guide gave the movie two out of five stars and felt that the film's appeal was very age-limited, calling it "Pastel-pretty and cloyingly sweet," and that the film is "strictly for the youngest members of the moviegoing audience."
In the July 2001 issue of his magazine ToonTalk, Don Bluth said that "the development of a story is like the development of a child in a womb; it takes time and it must be done right and building A Troll in Central Park, taught us this lesson, the hard way."
The A.V. Club wrote that A Troll in Central Park is "widely considered to be [Don Bluth's] worst film."
Despite the negative reviews, Variety Magazine said the film was "more imaginative and far less greeting-card banal than Thumbelina."