The first animated feature from STX Entertainment, Uglydolls, is unfortunately not the best start for this particular studio. The movie lacks originality and, frankly, any form of cleverness, with every character in this star-studded cast being one-dimensional and bland.
Whether or not UglyDolls was intentionally a direct rip-off of 2016's Trolls remains to be seen. However, it should be pointed out that many elements of UglyDolls are almost completely identical to the elements in Trolls, except Trolls managed to pull each one off significantly better. Both movies have a large cast with notable music stars, feature a variety of fluffy heroes, have a pink main character, and have a thematic message about your looks not defining you.
The biggest problem with UglyDolls was undoubtedly its lack of character. The movie starred an ensemble team of "Ugly Dolls" who are intent on proving their worth. The issue is, all of these characters are one dimensional. Each member of the ensemble was written under one single characteristic, giving no depth to the movie at all. In fact, the only character who actually wanted to find the world outside their Ugly village was Moxy (Kelly Clarkson). Her other four companions throughout the movie had no real motivation to be with her.
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Even with the characters having only one defining characteristic, they weren't even good at sticking to that. The character Uglydog (Pitbull), for example, was constantly referred to as being Moxy's best friend. However, at no point in the movie was there any real interaction between Uglydog and Moxy to prove that they were actually friends - instead, the movie just kept repeating that they were best friends in order to get the point across. The other three members of the crew had no reason to even be present during the second act of the movie either. At no point was it established that Moxy was close friends with them - they just followed her on her adventure with no clear motivation or personal gain.
Even from an animation perspective, UglyDolls fell flat. At many times, the main characters in the movie felt like background characters in a children's TV show, making random, phony smiles at moments when the tone of the scenes clearly did not warrant them. Even when a character was going through an emotional, depressing monologue, they would still smile for no reason whatsoever between sentences, making the emotion of the scenes feel completely unnatural and fabricated (no-pun intended).
While UglyDolls certainly has the cast and the budget to be a great movie, it unfortunately fell flat when put into action. Instead of creating a fun, inspiring movie that encouraged people to be true to themselves, the movie came off as dull, boring and uninspiring. While the thematic message of the movie certainly had good intentions, it was not played off right. The characters would often talk about how good it is to accept yourself, but the actions of the characters negated that message from beginning to end, making the message of acceptance feel preachy and hypocritical. Hopefully the next animated flick from STX Entertainment will have a bit more heart.
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