UglyDolls Review: Fluffy and fuzzy on the outside, typical and passable on the inside
Although it has bright animation, a decent voice cast, and some upbeat music, UglyDolls is a suitably passable film for young moviegoers, but not much more than that.
The film follows a group of dolls, known as UglyDolls, that live in a place called Uglyville and exist with free-spirits and a sense of joyful confidence. However, one UglyDoll, Moxy (Kelly Clarkson) has such a strong desire to be loved by a child that she takes a few friends to explore a secret entrance that brings new UglyDolls to Uglyville. Upon entering, they instead find another area where “perfect” dolls reside and have a one way ticket to the love of a child. Though Lou (Nick Jonas), the leader of the perfect dolls, wants them to fail, Moxy and her friends persist in achieving their goals and let their flaws be what makes them special.
Uglydolls definitely has a unique animation style and palette that’s pretty interesting to see on-screen. The design of the UglyDolls, themselves, is nice and their bright colors match well with the film’s more upbeat and positive-minded music. However, I did notice that the eye and mouth movement was a little distracting as it didn’t necessarily match up all the time so it took me out of certain moments. The voice acting was pretty well-rounded with everyone involved, even if it felt as if there wasn’t a lot of direction given to them for line-delivery, and I’ll even say that Clarkson brings some, well moxie to Moxy with some great energy that’s a little contagious.
Unfortunately, the rest of the film falls far from being anything unique and fell much closer to being unmemorable and a little annoying. The film’s themes about the flaws in people being what makes them special are incredibly on the nose at times and there’s nothing new added to them to make the film special. The film clearly is geared towards very young moviegoers, however, I don’t feel like that’s an excuse to just create something so blunt and easy to figure out that it’s pretty much forgettable. UglyDolls doesn’t offer many new or interesting ideas about self-worth for older audiences and fails to bring something that can be fresh for all kinds of viewers.
The film is also filled with character tropes, especially with the film’s antagonists, and doesn’t give itself enough time to develop its characters. A lot of the characters are pretty much there to be filler, especially a lot of Moxy’s friends, and only offers some trope-filled characters that tire pretty quickly. Most of the time, I couldn’t help but feel like, outside of Roxy, that the other characters were just there to either fill out the rest of the songs or attempt to spout jokes that did not hit for me at all. Either the jokes felt incredibly forced and shoved in or they attempted to be more self-aware and even break the fourth wall, but they never work so it just makes the film feel awkward at times.
What’s even more awkward was what the world of Perfection and its characters had to offer. Lou’s backstory is incredibly forced at times to create some sort of complexity around him that never works and even idea of the finale’s “gauntlet” that Moxy has to run in order to be paired with a child is completely underwhelming. Lou’s minions are pretty much copies of the plastics from Mean Girls with much less personality and don’t add anything impactful to the story. Honestly, I can’t help but compare Bebe Rexha’s Tuesday to Karen and if you’ve seen both films, you’ll understand why.
Not even the songs could really make much of an impact and when you see the cast and voice talent this film has, that’s truly saying something. It’s not that the songs are bad or anything, they just don’t leave much to be desired or remembered. The opening number, “Couldn’t be Better,” is nice and brings a great upbeat attitude to get viewers in the mood and there’s actually a great duet, with “Unbreakable,” later in the film between Clarkson’s Moxy and Janelle Monae’s Mandy. Everything in between, though, can’t capture the same kind of energy and it leads to the songs being just plain unmemorable.
There’re some things that UglyDolls stitches together to create a fun and suitable film for younger viewers, however, the film is just an ugly mess and fully accomplish everything it sets out to do. It’s way more passable than unique and only boasts a nice outer shell without any special stuffing.