Firstly, a big thank you to STX Entertainment for putting on the premiere of UglyDolls, particularly as it was outside of London, which is a first, despite the likes of the BBC and Channel4 now heading North. Anyway.
UglyDolls is the tale of Moxy, Kelly Clarkson (as in the singer, Kelly Clarkson), a reject doll from a factory that makes perfect dolls for perfect children.
When those dolls don’t match up, they are sent to Uglyville, which is a party town overseen by major Ox, Blake Shelton (“The Angry Birds Movie”, “The Ridiculous 6”), where dolls can be themselves, be who they are, free from having to worry about perfection.
This isn’t enough for Moxy however, who won’t let her dream of being with a child go, despite many of her friends telling her the real-world doesn’t exist.
She gathers up her closest friends: Uglydog, Pitbull (as in the singer, Pitbull), Peggy, Ice-T (“New Jack City”, “Tank Girl”), Lucky Bat, Leehom Wang (“Growing Pains”, “Forever Young”), and Wage, Wanda Sykes (“Over The Hedge”, “Ice Age: Continental Drift”), and heads through the tunnel they all emerge from to find her destiny.
What she finds is Perfection, overseen by Lou, Nick Jonas (“Jumanji: Welcome To The Jungle“, “Goat”), who strives to make each doll perfect, running them through the gauntlet before they’re allowed out into the world.
Moxy sees this as her big chance, the chance to go to the real-world and find a child. Her friends go-along with it, despite being quite happy in Uglyville thank-you.
Lou though, really isn’t happy that these less-than-perfect dolls have arrived and, together with his cronies: Tuesday, Bebe Rexha (a singer), Kitty, Charli XCX (a singer), Lydia, Lizzo (a singer), and Mandy, Janelle Monae (also a singer), he sets out to sabotage their attempt to beat the gauntlet.
If you aren’t into films with singing in, then UglyDolls won’t be for you. After just five-minutes my 11-year old nephew said, rather too loud, “Why are they still singing?”.
But this is what you get when you fill a movie with singers, not actors. They sing, even when they aren’t singing it feels like they want to, there’s an occasional “ooh” and “aah” that feels unnecessary.
It’s a shame as, without doubt, the people that stand out are, unsurprisingly, the actors. Wanda Sykes as Wage is hilariously brilliant and sassy, but woefully underused.
UglyDolls also features the voice of Jane Lynch (“Ralph Breaks The Internet“, “Criminal Minds (TV)”), not that you’d know. She plays a scanner and a female electronic voice…I don’t even…
Surprisingly the story is from legendary Grindhouse director Robert Rodriguez (“Alita: Battle Angel“, “From Dusk Till Dawn”), yes you read that right, Robert Rodriguez. That story was then taken by Alison Peck to turn into a screenplay, with a couple of additional writers chipping in.
A special mention should go to, yet another underused character, Gibberish Cat, Kelly Asbury (“Sherlock Gnomes”, “Shrek 2”), who is one of the funniest characters in the film, all two-scenes he actually appears.
The message, is of course, lovely. Most children’s films do have a lovely message: be yourself, love who you are, etc, etc. All that lovely stuff that, unfortunately, very rarely translates in the real-world. Still, can’t blame them for trying.
UglyDolls won’t win any awards, it isn’t memorable, despite the many attempts at shoehorning their own “Let It Go” song in, a lot, but it’s fine. My niece preferred it over my nephew and, at the end of the day, given it’s release date of during the school holidays, they’re the ones that matter.