Movie Review: UglyDolls

Cast: Kelly Clarkson, Nick Jonas, Janelle Monáe, Blake Shelton, Wanda Sykes, Gabriel Iglesias, Wang Leehom, Emma Roberts and Pitbull. Bebe Rexha, Charlie XCX, and Lizzo
Director: Kelly Asbury
Producers: Jane Hartwell, Robert Rodriguez, Oren Aviv
Release Date: May 3, 2019
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Unconventionality rules in UGLYDOLLS, STXfilms' new animated musical adventure starring the acting and singing voices of Kelly Clarkson, Nick Jonas, Janelle Monáe, Blake Shelton and Pitbull.

In the adorably different town of Uglyville, weird is celebrated, strange is special and beauty is embraced as more than simply meets the eye. Here, the free-spirited Moxy (Clarkson) and her UglyDoll friends live every day in a whirlwind of bliss, letting their freak flags fly in a celebration of life and its endless possibilities. In this all-new story, the UGLYDOLLS will go on a journey beyond the comfortable borders of Uglyville. There, they will confront what it means to be different, struggle with their desire to be loved, and ultimately discover that you don't have to be perfect to be amazing because who you truly are is what matters most.

The film is inspired by the unique and beloved global plush toy phenomenon launched in 2001 and features all new original songs from the cast of popstars.

Also starring in the voice cast of UGLYDOLLS are Wanda Sykes, Gabriel Iglesias, Wang Leehom, Emma Roberts, Bebe Rexha, Charli XCX and Lizzo.

An STXfilms and Alibaba Pictures presentation, UGLYDOLLS is directed by Kelly Asbury and will be released in theaters on May 3, 2019.

The original motion picture soundtrack will be released by Atlantic Records.

Recently, the world of animation has stepped-up its game.  There are some really good, trip to the theater worthy, animated films being made these days.  Unfortunately, UglyDolls isn’t one of them. In the scheme of the good, the bad, and  the ugly,UglyDolls is heavy on the bad and ugly and very low on the good. Opt for a different family film this week, or take the kids to see the latest superhero movie out (again.)

From the get-go, UglyDolls seemed confused.  Moxy (Kelly Clarkson) opened the film with a song about how wonderful the day was going to be and how happy she was to be a part of the Uglywille community, but she’s also very sad that she may never be able to leave Uglywille to realize the dream of belonging to a child. Then, the town mayor, Ox (Blake Shelton) discourages Moxy from following her dream, seemingly to protect her from he real world.  But, in his efforts to protect Moxy, Ox pressures an unwilling Lucky Bat (Wang Leehom) into “counseling” Moxy against her plans to search for more.  … And that was just the first five minutes.

UglyDolls tried hard to make the correct points: self-esteem, inclusion, and tolerance, among others. But, then, one of the dolls crashed into a wall because she didn’t want to “be ugly” by wearing her corrective lenses, and the good messages are lost on the kids in the theater audience wearing corrective lenses.  It happened like that time and again.  Just as the story was going to make a positive point, it went sideways. UglyDolls was definitely not some of Kelly Asbury’s (the Director of the film) best work. If it wasn’t for Moxy’s can-do spirit and big heart, UglyDolls would have been entirely unwatchable.

The music was bad.  It was more like sung dialogue. There was nothing catchy about most of the songs.  No one will be humming the tunes after watching the movie. Maybe because many of the of the voice actors are singers, UglyDolls includes an entire soundtrack of original music.  The many musical numbers were over used and overdone.

Still, not all of it was horrible.  Ugly Dog (Pitbull, who doesn’t love Pitbull?) stole all of the scenes he was in.  Wage’s cynical voice (Wanda Sykes) added genuine and much needed humor. And there was a bit in a washing machine which was creative and original.

That said, skip it. Use the 88 minute run-time to do something else with the family this weekend.  Big kids will dislike the silly music and infantile use of color.  Little kids won’t understand any of the well-intentioned themes.  Parents will resent all of it. Uglydolls is playing everywhere starting May 3.

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