Strong soundtrack and wholesome message aside, UglyDolls is just kind of there…
“It’s not what is on the outside, it is what’s inside that counts” is a message we have heard countless times as a kid, and if we are someone who is a little different and gets bullied, we are taught to stick up for ourselves and be proud of who we are. In the new animated musical UglyDolls, this message is effectively pointed out in a neat, inoffensive package. However, great songs and a positive message does not necessarily make for a good movie overall.
The film follows our protagonist Moxy (Kelly Clarkson) as a bright-eyed dreamer who wants to go to the big world outside of Uglyville to become someone’s special companion. In order to do that, she and her fellow imperfect friends Ugly Dog (Pitbull), Babo (Gabrielle Iglesias), Wage (Wanda Sykes) and Lucky Bat (Leehom Wang) travel to the Institute of Perfection. The Institute, which is overseen by the uber-popular Lou (Nick Jonas), serves as the proving ground for all of the dolls who dream of going through the portal to the big world. Lou, seeing Moxy and Company for the flawed creatures they are, tries to stop them from achieving their dreams no matter what.
Without going into too many details, the film plays out exactly as you would expect and there are no real risks taken. The jokes for the most part fall flat, and the overall message of the film is delivered in such a way that walks a very fine line between bullying and truly hateful. Kelly Clarkson’s Moxy is an effective lead, with Janelle Monae’s Mandy as my personal favorite character in the movie as a “perfect” doll with her own flaws (the two share an amazing duet which is probably the best song of the movie).
In the end, UglyDolls is really nothing more than an entertaining toy commercial with positive messaging and a great soundtrack. The film, with an eighty-seven minute runtime, felt like a hundred and could have easily been sixty. This will be an okay movie when it shows up on streaming to park your kids in front of the TV so you can get a little R&R, but for now buy them a Moxy doll and a copy of the soundtrack and listen to Couldn’t Be Better and Unbreakable until you can’t take it any longer. My final grade for UglyDolls is a C-.
What are your thought on UglyDolls? Leave a comment below and make sure to give me a follow on Instagram and Twitter @moviebirb, and as always, be civil.