© Tobis Film GmbH

China/Canada/U.S.A. 2019

Opening 3 Oct 2019

Directed by: Kelly Asbury
Writing credits: Alison Peck, Robert Rodriguez, Andrea McCarthy Paul, Vivian Wang, Sun-min Kim
Principal actors: Kelly Clarkson, Nick Jonas, Janelle Monáe, Blake Shelton, Leehom Wang

A factory produces huge amounts of dolls at great speed. Naturally, production sometimes goes wrong. Perhaps there are missing teeth or too many eyes. An imperfect doll lands in a special bin at the end of the assembly line, earmarked for Uglyville. Here, they have built an impressive community, where, regardless of their failings, they interact in good sport, as friends, and enjoy life without any hope of ever landing into the arms of a real child. Only pink Moxy, believes that there is another world and decides to take off and explore. She convinces Lucky Bat, Wage, Babo and Ugly Dog to come along and the adventure starts. On the other side of the mountain they discover the Institute for Perfection which contains, naturally, perfect dolls which are practicing the habits they will need when arriving in the real world to live in a nursery with a child. Moxy believes she could compete successfully with these candidates, but Lou, who considers himself perfect and in charge, prevents her admission, saying, “Kids don’t like uglies.”

These Uglydolls were first created in 2001 by David Horvath and his wife Sun-min Kim. They resemble stuffed animals made out of felt more than dolls. The concept led to a video game and then a TV series. Now we have this first film, which emphasizes the topic of mobbing: both origin and elimination. Here, Mandy, a doll from the Institute of Perfection, tries to help them; she, due to having to wear glasses, isn’t so perfect herself. Three perfect dolls visit Uglyville for new experiences and a change of opinion. Naturally, there is a moral to the story, reflected in comments such as “We are great because we are different. Be strong. Be your real self.” The animation is marvelously colorful and bright, supported by 13 songs. Children from about six to 12 will enjoy it, as will their adult accompaniment. (Becky Tan)

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