There are times that I get to screen films that are WAY low on my priority list, and even though I like to attend as many films as possible, I try not to discriminate on what I select to see and review. (OK, except for scary movies. Not gonna happen. Don’t even try, Skippy.) Most of the time, I know what I am going to get out of it, so I am good, as seen in a certain movie recently about a flying elephant. With “UglyDolls,” if I hadn’t been invited to see an advance screening by one of our amazing vendors, it would be one of those films I would end up watching with one of my nieces or nephews at some point while trying to kill time at a gathering. Lucky for me, I actually got to see it on purpose.
With a voice cast that had me doing that sideways-head-tilt-dog move, Kelly Clarkson plays Moxy, a rejected stuffed animal at a toy factory who lives in Uglyville along with a lot of others like her. They do not know an existence outside of their quaint little town, run by Ox (Blake Shelton). Each day, she believes that she will meet the little human to whom she will bring unspeakable joy, and every day it does not happen but she will not be told otherwise. She decides to see what is on the other side of a mountain, taking her friends Uglydog (Pitbull), Lucky Bat (Leehom Wang), Babo (Gabriel Iglesias), and Wage (Wanda Sykes) with her and finds the Institute of Perfection, where dolls that are not sent to Uglyville go to become the ideal toy for children everywhere. Run by the seemingly perfect Lou (Nick Jonas), they decide to try to fit in to achieve their dreams, much to Lou’s chagrin.
Want more craziness in this voice cast? Let me throw this at you: Charlie XCX, Janelle Monet, Emma Roberts, Jane Lynch, Bebe Rexha, Rob Riggle, and ICE FREAKING T are in this thing (and if you don’t know who Ice-T plays, you wouldn’t believe me if I told you). Couple all of this with a story that even had me a little misty from time to time as it tells its tale of accepting who you are and fitting in on your own terms. With an animation style that more than once made me wonder if I was watching CGI or actual work with actual felt stuffed animals and dolls, and this film is a pleasant surprise that still clocks in at under ninety minutes (or half of the over-a-billion-dollars-made-in-four-days running time of another film) so the little ones don’t get all squirmy on you.
This is a great family film that doesn’t pander to any particular age group, and that is a good thing for all of them. The teenagers may scoff at it a bit (but then again, what DON’T teenagers scoff at?), but even they will find something that entertains them here, even if it is some of the voice cast and a peppy soundtrack that has more than one toe-tapper in it. Take the whole clan to “UglyDolls,” and don’t even be ashamed to do it in a theater!