Uglydolls: Catchy Music Can’t Save It

Pitbull stars as Ugly Dog and Emma Roberts stars as Wedgehead in UglyDolls Courtesy of STXfilms

Uglydolls tries so hard to be so many things but not even catchy music is able to save the animated film by the end of the film.

In Uglyville, you have a city that preaches being the best that one can be.  Even though they aren’t perfect, everyone appears to be having fun.  Okay, so today’s not the day but maybe it’ll come tomorrow?!?  Even when it doesn’t happen, three-toothed Moxy (Kelly Clarkson) still brings her A game to the table.  As for Perfection?  It’s Lou’s (Nick Jonas) way or the high way.  If you don’t put in the hard work, you don’t get your child at the end of the day.  It’s that simple.

Shortly after the arrival of Wedgehead (Emma Roberts), Moxy decides that it’s time to check out what’s on the other side.  This comes much to Uglyville mayor Ox’s (Blake Shelton) dismay, of course.  This yearning for her own child seeks Moxy to pursue what’s on the other side–if anything is at all.  When Moxy, best friend UglyDog (Pitbull), wise Lucky Bat (Wang Leehom), cynical Wage (Wanda Sykes), and Babo (Gabriel Iglesias) and some friends arrive at Perfection, they’re in for a rude awakening.  The only person nice to them is Mandy (Janelle Monáe), an otherwise perfect doll hiding her own flaws from Lou.  Lou has a trio of Spy Girls: Tuesday (Bebe Rexha), Kitty (Charlie XCX), and Lydia (Lizzo).

It’s not easy being an animated film when there is so much competition.  Disney has the music down.  Pixar, the emotions.  Illumination gives us the goofy fun while Laika provides stop-motion.  The competition is very tough by the time I even took a seat in the theater.  There needs to be more than just the catchy music.  What exactly is the message that this film is trying to send?  This is what I had trouble with on a cold Wednesday night in Chicago.

An animated film can have catchy music but there needs to be more than just that.  I didn’t really sense a reason to really be rooting for these characters.  I could spy Lou as the bad guy coming from a mile away.  There’s no denying that the cast gives it their all.  They definitely make these characters their own.  In the end, some toy lines just are better off being just that.  All I can do is give Uglydolls points for trying.  Unfortunately, it’s just not enough.

DIRECTOR:  Kelly Asbury
CAST:   Kelly Clarkson, Nick Jonas, Janelle Monáe, Blake Shelton, Wanda Sykes, Gabriel Iglesias, Wang Leehom, Emma Roberts, Pitbull, Bebe Rexha, Charlie XCX, and Lizzo

STXfilms opens Uglydolls in theaters on May 3, 2019. Grade: 2/5

Danielle Solzman

Danielle Solzman is native of Louisville, KY, and holds a BA in Public Relations from Northern Kentucky University and a MA in Media Communications from Webster University. She roots for her beloved Kentucky Wildcats, St. Louis Cardinals, Indianapolis Colts, and Boston Celtics. Living less than a mile away from Wrigley Field in Chicago, she is an active reader (sports/entertainment/history/biographies/select fiction) and involved with the Chicago improv scene. She also sees many movies and reviews them. She has previously written for Redbird Rants, Wildcat Blue Nation, and Hidden Remote/Flicksided. From April 2016 through May 2017, her film reviews can be found on Creators.