The Dove Take:
Ugly Dolls advances an important theme that never gets old: The struggle to be loved and accepted and to see ourselves in the world around us is universal; we are always learning anew that the truth is within us. By reflecting on and accepting our own brokenness and rising above life’s obstacles, we come to know that where there’s a will, there’s a way through positivity, determination, and the support and love of oneself and others.
An animated adventure in which the free-spirited UglyDolls confront what it means to be different, struggle with a desire to be loved, and ultimately discover that who you truly are is what matters most.
Ugly Dolls is an inspiring film with a timeless message about the popular toys we all know and love! Authenticity and accepting your own and other’s imperfections are at its core, expressing that everyone is worthy of love. This story begins with a separation between two types of dolls; one considered “ugly,” living only in Uglyville and happy because they know no different, versus the “perfect” dolls, who are competitive, anxious, and perfectionistic, due to their focus only on the exterior. One particular sweet and joyful Ugly Doll, Moxy (Kelly Clarkson), has hope that she can one day reach the outside world, where dolls might then be delivered to a child so they can both love and be loved. Moxy’s dream is assisted by her best Ugly Doll pals (Wanda Sykes as Wage and Pitbull as Ugly Dog, who especially deliver lots of comical one-liners).They help her reach the land of Perfect, but upon their adventurous arrival, they learn the need to strive to be like everyone else in order to pass the test that will liberate them. In this land, all the dolls are the same: they dress the same, look the same, their houses are the same, and the perfect dolls are busily striving to outdo one another in order to win the approval of the supposedly perfect—yet nastiest—doll of all, Lou (Nick Jonas). As a result, they work hard to hide their imperfections so they will not be rejected by Lou, each other, and most importantly, by children. The Ugly Dolls are, not surprisingly, shamed and ridiculed by the perfect dolls. Wow, can young kids and teens alike relate to this!
Children of all ages and even adults will appreciate this film, which deals with issues of bullying, love, compassion, acceptance, authenticity, judgment, self-worth, and feelings of despair and hopelessness. Most importantly, its message is strong: follow your dreams in your own way, accept your unique qualities and highlight your strengths. The Ugly Dolls lose hope temporarily because they themselves try to be “perfect,” but they soon realize that is not the answer. The message is revealed that the purpose of dolls, and of course people, is to be loving and compassionate. The Ugly Dolls inherently know this, so at all times they work together and champion one another to help Moxy realize her dream, one that benefits all of them. Conversely, the perfect dolls compete against one another and tear each other down in an effort to appear to be better than the next doll. This leaves them isolated, lonely, angry, resentful, and without the support they need.
This movie clips along at a good pace, is endearing and thought-provoking. Its vivid and stimulating animation combines with a dynamic soundtrack to match the action and drama. And the singing, which showcases mainly Kelly Clarkson, Nick Jonas, and Blake Shelton, is top-notch; all of the songs are catchy, and some are surefire hits! There are a couple of tunes with lyrics that seem to advance the notion that appearance is the foundation for acceptance and love, so this will take a larger, more adult perspective to decipher for younger viewers. However, all the Ugly Dolls are unmistakably adorable, and the most touching moment is when Moxy finally realizes her dream by being paired with a child who shares some of Moxy’s physical features. This drives home the main idea of the film, with a subtle but powerful heartfelt message that little boys and girls, especially, who play with dolls will appreciate, for they are in various stages of development: awkward and even odd-looking at times, missing teeth and filling out in uneven ways. What a perfect doll for them to relate to; one who can reflect its uniqueness on the outside, and as a result, exude a sense of originality and character. Indeed, we are never too young to learn that our real joy and contentedness is to be found in embracing our imperfections as part of who we are, just as all the dolls do, who finally find peace together in the land of Imperfection.
Dove awards Ugly Dolls the Dove-Approved Seal for All Ages.