When factory machines malfunction, unconventional, asymmetrical, “ugly dolls” are created. They’re shot through a long dark pipe into Uglyville, which despite its name, is a bright happy place where all the rejects live happily together.
Except Moxy (Kelly Clarkson). She’s round, bright pink, missing a few teeth that she should have and sporting a few bumps she shouldn’t. Optimistic Moxy wakes up daily hoping that the new dawn will bring the day she’s finally chosen to be sent into the “big world” and gifted to a kid who will love and cherish her.
The rest of the ugly dolls including the leader, Ox (Blake Shelton), try to discourage her from entertaining impossible dreams of a place there’s no proof even exists.
Fed up with crossing day after day off her calendar and seeing no change, Moxy decides to embark on a mission back through the pipe and ropes in Lucky Bat (Leehom Wang), Ugly dog (Pitbull), Babo (Gabriel Iglesias) and Wage (Wanda Sykes).
Together they arrive at the Institute of Perfection where blonde, blue-eyed Lou (Joe Jonas) complete with a full set of teeth puts all the correctly-made dolls through their paces and a test called “The Gauntlet”, which they must pass to graduate into the “big world.”
Lou is none-too-happy about their arrival and how their presence threatens the image of the Institute. At the risk of losing his own image as a nice-guy though, he allows them to compete but isn’t going to make it easy.
UglyDolls gets off to a toe-tapping start that literally had my two-year-old out of her seat dancing for the best part of the film’s first half.
It was in the film’s second half that things unravelled by introducing a twist too difficult for kids under five- the only audience who’ll appreciate this film- to comprehend. I know, because my four-year-old had endless questions, even after the movie.
It complicated an otherwise straight-forward story and one that would’ve been ample to satisfy little kids, who are quite clearly the film’s target audience.
UglyDolls doesn’t deliver anything new for audiences. The value of a toy, finding where you belong and embracing your imperfections are all themes that far better, more thrilling kids’ movies (and British cartoon series The Raggy Dolls) have covered time and time again.
The biggest thing UglyDolls had going for it was its simple story and incredibly toddler-friendly appeal until it muddied the waters.
Story complications aside, UglyDolls still effectively conveys the intended emotions- so much so that my youngest burst into tears both when the characters were sad and when they get their happy ever after.
Bearing all that in mind, ask yourself…
Do you have a three-year-old?
Do you and they love music?
Will they happily let the story float over their head?
Will they view the film without absorbing too many references to what society views as “ugly”?
Have you already seen Toy Story 4?
If you can answer yes to all of the above, then you’re a good candidate for seeing this film, everyone else should probably skip it.
But here are a couple more suggestions, just in case…
SEE IT if…
You liked The Raggy Dolls series
You’re a musical and Kelly Clarkson fan
SKIP IT if…
You haven’t seen Toy Story 4
You don’t have a toddler
It gets 2 stars out of 5.
Not your thing? Read another review.