Toy brands sometimes aren't the best things to make a movie off of. While they are appealing and a child's imagination on bringing them to life and playing with them is endless, it seems when they get to the big screen they really struggle. Though it's not like it's impossible to make something great using toys as characters. Pixar was able to do that perfectly with "Toy Story" while Warner Bros. Animation was able to do it just as well with "The Lego Movie". However, it seems that same success with those two films didn't work this time around with "UglyDolls". While it does have good intentions and does try to be fun, it ends up feeling like it came off an assembly line with not a lot substance to boost it. It should've worked especially with a director like Kelly Asbury and a producer like Robert Rodriguez on it, but it doesn't.
Every child loves a doll, but where the ones that are perfect usually make it out to the real world, the misshapen or deformed dolls are tossed aside and thrown into the town of Uglyville where everyone is happy and has fun every single day. One doll there though named Moxy (Kelly Clarkson) dreams of becoming a doll to a child and going to the big world. Despite everyone telling her that belonging to a child is a myth, Moxy is determined to set out of Uglyville and her along with her friends Lucky Bat (Wang Leehom), Ugly Dog (Pitbull), Wage (Wanda Sykes), and Babo (Gabriel Iglesias) leave their town and discover the Institute of Perfection where other dolls go through a challenge to go to the real world. While they seem close to the real world, the leader of the institute named Lou (Nick Jonas) tells the dolls that they will not pass due to how they are ugly which only raises their spirits on wanting to prove him wrong. From there on out, the UglyDolls set to compete in the challenges so they can get to the real world and belong to a child.
This is a film that really does feel like it was manufactured to sell toys and a popular soundtrack. To me, there really isn't a lot of substance in this movie that makes it stand out amongst the sea of animated movies that have been and will be released this year. The story really is the big problem here. It's easily forgettable due to how formulaic and predictable it turns out. It's a story we've seen been done so many times before in the past and there isn't much substance in it that makes it unique. I do appreciate the message of the film of how our features make us unique and that you don't have to be perfect, but a good message can't save a bad story. The animation was at least creative. The world of Uglyville was really a lot of fun. The way it felt stitched together with the buttons and felt made it stand out and the colors really did pop off the screen. I wished we did see more of that world though since the Institution of Perfection is seriously unappealing. I know that was the filmmakers intent, but they could've either make the world a little more pleasing or even kept more focus in Uglyville. As for the characters, they are also formulaic and feel like cut outs. Moxy is the determined believer who won't stop til she's accomplished her goal, Lou is the egocentric villain who wants to crush the other dolls dreams since they will ruin his vision, and Moxy's friends are there to be supportive and that's that. There's really nothing creative or unique about any of these characters. I also want to take issue with the cast as well. While some actors like Janelle Monae and Wanda Sykes turned in decent performances, most of the voice acting was not very good. Both Kelly Clarkson and Nick Jonas were the worst of the bunch. They both had some really bad deliveries during scenes where they had to really sell their sadness or anger and it just didn't work. Also, there's one more thing I forgot to mention and that is that this movie is a musical and not a very good one at that. With the exception of a duet between Clarkson and Monae called "Unbreakable", the songs were all forgettable and left little to be desired. It's such a real shame.
Honestly, I can't exactly recommend "Uglydolls". The story was formulaic and predictable, the animation had one creative world but focused on a mostly unimpressive one, the characters were all cutouts and the typical fill in the blank characters, and the songs were mostly forgettable. I can say while the film is harmless and kids might get some enjoyment out of it, this film really left little to be desired. I feel amongst the other animated movies that have and will be coming out this year, this one just doesn't stand out.