“Ugly Dolls” is based on of a toy line of dolls that aren’t all that ugly to begin with. It’s not like they’re Garbage Pail Kids or anything; they’re plush and huggable. Sure, they might have one eye or a lopsided face, but they’re still fuzzy little dolls that kids can cuddle. So, it’s a little hard to buy the premise the movie is selling: that these dolls are so hideous not one single human child could ever love them.
It’s ironic that a movie about not judging people — or dolls — by their outward appearances would end up being such a superficial bore.
“Ugly Dolls” attempts to be a hybrid of “Toy Story” and “The Greatest Showman.” Here we see toys grappling with existential crises, but they do so in the form of song. The whole thing isn’t a musical, but every time they’re feeling the feels the dolls belt out another grating pop tune that you’ll instantly forget once you leave the theater. Not a catchy one in the bunch.
Moxy (voiced by Kelly Clarkson) is a pink fluffy little doll who is optimistic that one day she’ll get to leave Uglyville (the place where all the Ugly Dolls congregate and sing about being repulsive) and meet a child that she can love for the rest of her days. It’s a beautiful thought, but the sad truth for the residents of Uglyville is no one wants them.
One day, after an inspirational song and dance, Moxy and a group of her friends decide to find out what’s on the other side of the pipe that new ugly dolls appear out of from time to time. They walk through it and find a place called Perfection on the other side. Perfect little dolls are learning to become the perfect little companions for human children. Here they watch a perfect little doll walk through a sensor, which gladly exclaims the doll’s new name and that she’s “a lawyer and a mommy!” A joke that could’ve worked if it wasn’t delivered so flatly.
That’s one of the biggest problems with “Ugly Dolls” is that it just cannot find the right timing for its humor. There’s no flow to it. Every halfway funny joke is hidden beneath a layer of boredom. The whole movie feels like it’s barely existing as Moxy and friends find out a life lesson that we’ve all seen play out in far superior movies.
The animation is subpar considering the animated movies nowadays. Some of it is reminiscent of straight-to-Netflix animation that parents might turn on for an electronic babysitter.
Parents who enjoy taking their kids to animated films might not appreciate this experience. “Ugly Dolls” is void of any sort of humor that adults might find charming. Instead it’s a colorful one-dimensional movie that doesn’t offer anything outside of 90 minutes in a dark theater.
As you leave the theater you might find yourself struggling to remember anything specific about it. Ten minutes later the memory fades. A half hour later it’s simply a distant memory.
It’s a forgettable movie with unimaginative songs that didn’t even hold the attention of the kids that were in my screening.