"UglyDolls" Review: Bless Its Ugly Wittle Heart!
STX Entertainment isn’t necessarily a household studio name, but it’s quickly growing its portfolio. Giving us recent films like The Upside, The Best of Enemies, and the forthcoming 21 Bridges, the studio is slowly making a name for itself. UglyDolls is their move into family friendly films and like any first outing it has its bumps. While the film has the spirit of Trolls, its execution is disjointed and poor pacing makes for a difficult watch at times, but bless it’s ugly heart if the messaging isn’t the positivity the world needs right now!
The film starts with a positivity drenched ballad led by Moxy (Kelly Clarkson). She tells the story of how living in the town of UglyVille is great. UglyVille is where dolls go after being separated from the “perfect” dolls on the assembly line in the sky. While all the defected dolls enjoy live in the Ville, Moxy dreams that everyday may be the day that she gets picked by a kid to live in the big world.
After seeing a new ugly doll come out of the tube in the mountain, Moxy decides she wants to see where the tube leads. She takes her friends Ugly Dog (Pitbull), Babo (Gabriel Iglesias), Wage (Wanda Sykes), and Luck Bat (Leehom Wang) along for the adventure. The crew eventually finds the Institute of Perfection, where all the good looking dolls are tested before going to the big world to meet their child. A doll named Lou (Nick Jonas) runs the show and sings brutally frank ballads about being perfect versus ugly. Most of the dolls at the institute are obsessed with perfection and Lou or hiding flaws as not to be shamed.
The heart of this film is about not being afraid to be who you are and let the things that make you who you are shine. The opening number is so beautiful and you can quickly see the imperfect dolls are brimming with talent and happier than the dolls at the institute. It’s a great message, even if it’s overt. Messaging aside, the film limps along from musical number to musical number. While casting tons of talented singers and comedians may be great for social media tags and posts for marketing the film, the acting talent and chemistry that Anna Kendrick and Justin Timberlake in Trolls can’t be found here. It feels more like a dress rehearsal with understudies for a better film that could have come out of this movie.
Overall, the plot is noticeably Frankensteined from Trolls, Monsters Inc, Toy Story and other classic animation films. Which is kind of funny in a movie about ugly dolls. However, it doesn’t make for a creative, fresh film about being yourself. There’s no doubt that the conversation parents can have about the deeper meaning behind this film on the car ride home will be worth it, but you can’t escape the ugly truth!