Friday, May 24, 2019

Movie Review: "UglyDolls" (2019)

Director: Kelly Asbury
Year: 2019
Rating: PG
Running Time: 1 hour, 27 minutes

Dolls with manufacturing defects are pushed off the assembly line down the pipe to Uglyville. These toys live happy lives, but one doll named Moxy has bigger dreams. She hopes to one day find a child of her own to love. To achieve that goal, she must go through the town of Perfection, where only the most perfect dolls are allowed to move on and become toys for children.

UglyDolls 2019 movie still
"You don't belong in the big world. You shouldn't even exist." (Image Source)
The UglyDolls that live in Uglyville are much cuter than you would imagine. To tell you the truth, they seem like any marketer's dream product...until you realize that this film is actually based on the plush dolls created by Sun-Min Kim and David Horvath, then it all makes sense. "UglyDolls" is directed by Kelly Asbury. He is known for directing the animated feature "Gnomeo and Juliet" and co-directing films like "Spirit: Stallion of the Cimarron" and "Shrek 2." The screenplay is written by Allison Peck and has a story by Robert Rodriguez (yes, that Robert Rodriguez). When a doll is judged to be 'defective' during assembly, it is pushed off the line and put down a chute leading to a small town called Uglyville, where all of the flawed creatures live joyful lives hoping "today will be the day." One of the dolls named Moxy (Kelly Clarkson) dreams of something more than her cheerful little life and hopes to one day find a child she can make happy. Despite being urged to forget her dream by the town's leader Ox (Blake Shelton), Moxy has a lot of, well, moxie, and isn't willing to give up so easily. Moxy and her friends Wage, Uglydog, Babo, and Lucky Bat (Wanda Sykes, Pitbull, Gabriel Iglesias, and Leehom Wang) decide to climb up the pipe where new UglyDolls come from to see what's on the other side. This pipe leads them to the town of Perfection where dolls are rigorously trained about how to be ideal toys to make children happy. Perfection is run by Lou (Nick Jonas), a doll who has spent his entire existence making rules so that only the most consummate playthings will get through training to make it to the homes of kids everywhere. Moxy just won't give up, so she tries to make it through the training any way she can, while Lou does his best to stop her.
UglyDolls 2019 movie still Pitbull Kelly Clarkson Wanda Sykes Gabriel Iglesias
"A good, a terrifying void!" (Image Source)
"UglyDolls" presents a frequently delivered family film message: buy our merchandise! Beyond that, the plot of this story is all about being true to yourself, that real beauty is on the inside, that there is someone for everyone regardless of who you are or what you look like, yada yada blah blah sentimenty blah. We've all gotten this memo at some point because stories like this have been told over and over and over in children's movies for decades. It's a great, valuable message to teach to kids, of course, but it's a little tired by now. It also doesn't help that it is delivered in a formulaic, basic way here. The overall animation style isn't great, and it has a bit of a made-for-TV quality to it, which makes sense considering it was designed to lead to a Hulu TV series. Considering how poorly "UglyDolls" performed financially, that may never come to fruition, but then again, it seems like streaming services are desperate for new content, quality be damned.
UglyDolls 2019 animated film
"I love literal naming. Isn't that right, Gibberish Cat?" (Image Source)
We didn't expect much from "UglyDolls." We went into it fearing the worst, so we were a bit surprised when there were actually a couple of genuinely decent moments of heart in this movie. There are also a couple catchy songs, too, though we assumed the music would be good considering the majority of the cast is comprised of pop singers. There's a bit of meta-humor that adults in the audience will enjoy, and a few of the puns actually made us laugh out loud. We wouldn't call "UglyDolls" a must-see animated feature, and we wouldn't outright recommend it, but there are far more insufferable ways to spend your time at the movie theater. It will most likely hold the attention spans and interest of little ones for 85 minutes.

My Rating: 5.5/10
BigJ's Rating: 5/10
IMDB's Rating: ~4.5/10
RT Rating: ~29%
Do we recommend this movie: Meh.

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