Movie Review: ‘UglyDolls’ Starring Kelly Clarkson, Nick Jonas, Janelle Monáe
Let’s take a trip to Uglyville, shall we? The name is not as literal as it sounds. In fact, it’s really quite the contrary. No, the town is called Uglyville because this is where all the defective toys from the factory above get dumped off when one of its manufactured toys don’t pass QA, therefore they’re “UglyDolls.”
In UglyDolls, we follow Moxy (Kelly Clarkson), as she wakes up hoping it’s going to be her day to leave Uglytown and be some kid’s special toy. The film opens with a one of many musical medleys that will surely give kids (and maybe some adults) an earworm. There’s a reason the cast is made up almost entirely of pop stars afterall. During the medley, it becomes apparent to the viewer (if it weren’t already) that there really is no escape from Uglytown, not without a sense of adventure, at least.
All it takes is a talk with the mayor of Uglytown, Ox (Blake Shelton) for Moxy to find the confidence within herself to set out on a journey with five of her friends to capture her dreams of being loved by a child. By her side is Babo (Gabriel Iglesias), Wage (Wanda Sykes), Ugly Dog (Pitbull), and Lucky Bat (Leehom Wang) and together they find their way to infiltrate Perfection, the city in which the “perfect” toys go.
You can probably already tell where this movie is heading and the message it conveys.
In Perfection, Moxy and co. meet Mandy (Janelle Monáe) who despite being in Perfection, has some imperfections of her own. It’s here we also meet the leader of this city, a pretty boy rich kid named Lou (Nick Jonas) whose sole purpose in the movie is essentially just to bully our protagonists and create self-doubt within them. Accompanying him are three bratty girls voiced by pop stars Bebe Rexha, Charli XCX, and Lizzo.
What’s funny is that the dolls we follow in this film aren’t even really ugly and actually pretty adorable. They only appear to be ugly when being compared with what the film depicts as a doll that’s perfect. It’s an interesting premise that does sadly reflect what many young individuals may feel at some point in their life when comparing themselves to others or what society deems cute. In that regard, I commend UglyDolls for conveying its message that anyone and everyone can be themselves and follow their dreams.
Outside of its message, UglyDolls is nothing groundbreaking and unfortunately extremely forgettable from an adult’s perspective. I was fighting to even stay awake by the film’s end. The animation is quite a step back from what we’re used to with today’s standards, but the colors are vibrant at times and the music is a bit catchy. If the kids at my screening were any indicator though, it’s enough to keep kids entertained for its 87-minute runtime.