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film review

Kelly Clarkson, Nick Jonas and Pitbull are among the voices featured in Kelly Asbury's UglyDolls.STX Entertainment

  • UglyDolls
  • Directed by Kelly Asbury
  • Written by Alison Peck
  • Featuring the voices of Kelly Clarkson, Nick Jonas and Pitbull
  • Classification PG
  • 87 minutes


1.5 out of 4 stars

The best children’s movies tell a story first, and sell toys second. Even Toy Story, a movie with its commercial aspirations right in the title, was more concerned with exploring complex themes and developing compelling characters than it was with moving truckloads of Buzz Lightyears (although it did that, too).

The new animated film UglyDolls is a lazy flip, its main intention to foster the toy-aisle bond between kids and its quasi-hideous title characters. Director Kelly Asbury’s 87-minute ad for David Horvath and Sun-Min Kim’s line of plush toys focuses on Moxy (voiced by Kelly Clarkson), a cheerful plaything who, along with her fellow factory-reject friends, spends her days pining to be purchased for a child. That’s it.

There is sloppy lip service to the idea of acceptance (“It’s our differences that make us shine!” is one of many blunt lines of dialogue delivered by your children’s favourite stars such as, um, Blake Shelton and Charli XCX, I guess?), a handful of forgettable songs, and perhaps appropriately ugly visuals (more likely a result of the film’s small US$45-million budget).

Buyer beware.

UglyDolls opens May 3