UglyDolls is a 20-year old line of toys, and the animated feature UglyDolls is a diabolical 87-minute indoctrination into the ethos of the UglyDolls that is surprisingly rich with subtext, pondering the nature and purpose of being a toy, while of course being a ripoff of the Toy Story movies and the idea of the Island of Misfit Toys from the beloved and creepily gothic holiday-horror of television’s Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer (1964).
Do you smoke pot or do weed-edibles? It’s legal everywhere now, right? Whatever, if you can get some THC into your system and figure out how to craft your high so that it peaks about halfway through the admirably and wonderfully brief 87 minutes of this cartoon, do it, because the hero’s journey of the UglyDolls is rich with paradox and sacrifice, and there are some moments of existential crisis that present themselves and redeem this movie from its calculated marketing cash-grab brand-synergy true self.
DISCLOSURE: I did not consume any controlled substances or alcoholic beverages before viewing this film, but I’m just saying, it hit me a certain way that would resonate, I think, for you dope-smokers.
This movie appears to be cheaply animated, but it is well designed, matching the bleak simplicity of the featured UglyDolls products, which are voiced by successful musical entertainers such as Kelly Clarkson, Blake Shelton, Charlie XCX (or whatever Roman Numeral her name is), and Pit Bull. It’s unfortunate that performers who are already doing well now see fit to bigfoot their way into gigs in animations that used to be handled by voice actors, people who have pretty much zero other talents and generally aren’t really super good-looking or anything, sort of like these UglyDolls are supposed to be in our story, compared to the “perfect” dolls who exist in a mysterious staging area, the Institute of Perfection, while the UglyDolls dwell in Uglyville. The movie is self-aware and makes fun of its own unvarnished and uncreative aspects, such as naming things.
The bad person, voiced by Nick Jonas, is sort of a White Anglo-Saxon Protestant Ken doll, who despises imperfection, so we are supposed to despise his perfection in return, having been conditioned by the movies to prefer the manufacturing specs of the UglyDolls product line. They’re all merchandise; their rivalry, like the whole world of social relationships the movie is built around, is all prefatory to the doll-characters’ ultimate goal of subsuming their identities into a future of being consumed, as a toy.
The music is very forgettable, and some of the numbers are a bit on the long side at the beginning of the film, before it slides into its grim conflict and then the good part of the movie, and then the somewhat disturbing conclusion, if you think about it for a little while.