“Ugly Dolls”

 

            It's lighthearted and lightweight, so don't expect the next “Frozen.” But it's cute, and it's winsome, and it's harmless, and very much aimed toward the kids.

            Moxy (the voice of Kelly Clarkson) is one of those dolls that has been removed from the assembly line because of imperfections, then robotically thrown down a chute, to plop into a whole collection of misfits, inhabiting a place called Uglyville.  But they're all happy in Uglyville, because they all think that they have a chance to be chosen, still, to go to a home and be loved as somebody's doll.  So they sing together and enjoy one another's company and wait patiently for their big opportunity.

            Except that it never comes.  And one day they all find out it's not going to come.  Moxy's foray into the Land of Perfection has convinced her that she lives in a world of rejects, and none of them are ever going to be chosen.  Uglyville then suffers from a group depression, complete with soup lines and dilapidated buildings and plenty of sad-looking citizens with nothing to do.

            Meanwhile, Lou (the voice of Nick Jonas), who personifies perfection, decides to toy with the rejects in front of his adoring fans, and tells them that if they can run the gauntlet, they'll have a chance to get to the portal where they can be shipped to real people wanting dolls.  Moxy and her friends are happy to try it, but it's fraught with unseen danger, which they can only manage if they help each other.

            Yes, it's about believing in yourself, despite your imperfections, and it's also about helping others along the way, because that's how you discover who you are.  And at the end, it's about finding the love. They're all good messages, and the veteran singing voices add much to the enjoyment (including the singing voices of Janelle Monae, Blake Shelton, and Pitbull).  It probably won't become an instant classic.  But it's enjoyable for the kids, and for the kid still residing in each of us.

 

Dr. Ronald P. Salfen, DFW Film Critics Association