UglyDolls

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UglyDolls
UglyDolls (2019) theatrical poster.png
Theatrical release poster
Directed byKelly Asbury
Produced by
Screenplay byAlison Peck
Story byRobert Rodriguez
Based on
Uglydoll
by
  • David Horvath
  • Sun-min Kim
Starring
Music byChristopher Lennertz[1]
Edited by
  • Julie Rogers
  • Nolan Southerland
Production
company
Distributed bySTX Entertainment
Release date
  • May 3, 2019 (2019-05-03)
(United States)
  • August 16, 2019 (2019-08-16)
(United Kingdom)
Running time
87 minutes[3]
Country
  • United States
  • Canada
  • China[2]
LanguageEnglish
Budget$45–53 million[4][5]
Box office$32.5 million[6]

UglyDolls is a 2019 computer-animated musical adventure-comedy film directed by Kelly Asbury and written by Alison Peck, from a story by Robert Rodriguez, who also produced. It is based on the plush toys of the same name by David Horvath and Sun-Min Kim, and follows a group of them as they try to find embracement from the real world despite their flaws. The film stars the voices of Kelly Clarkson, Janelle Monáe, Nick Jonas, Pitbull, Blake Shelton, Wanda Sykes, Gabriel Iglesias, Wang Leehom, Emma Roberts, Bebe Rexha, Charli XCX, and Lizzo.

UglyDolls was theatrically released in the United States on May 3, 2019 by STXFilms, the first animated film produced by the company. It received generally unfavorable reviews from critics, who called it "well-meaning but derivative".[7] It also failed at the box office, grossing only $32 million worldwide. This was also the final film directed by Kelly Asbury before his death in 2020.[8][9]

Plot[edit]

In a hidden universe within a toy factory, dolls are anthropomorphized and chosen for a single child, while deformed dolls are dropped into the remote town of Uglyville. Among these dolls is the idealistic Moxy (Kelly Clarkson), who dreams of the 'Big World' and being chosen for a child despite Uglyville's Mayor Ox (Blake Shelton) assuring her this is a myth. Misinterpreting advice from the village Lucky Bat (Wang Leehom), Moxy enters the hole from which new Ugly Dolls arrive, hoping to reach the Big World with the help of Lucky Bat and her friends; easy-going Ugly Dog (Pitbull), cynical baker Wage (Wanda Sykes), and strong, soft-spoken Babo (Gabriel Iglesias).

Moxy and her friends follow the tunnel to the Institute of Perfection where dolls go through a number of tests, culminating in 'the Gauntlet', an obstacle course based on a human house, to be with their perfect child. The Institute's superficial and selfish leader Lou (Nick Jonas) meets the Ugly Dolls , but states that they do not meet the standards to participate in the Gauntlet. Faced with Moxy’s positivity, Lou agrees to let them try, hoping to ruin her optimism. The friends meet a perfect doll named Mandy (Janelle Monáe), who is more accepting of the Ugly Dolls and has poor eyesight, but refuses to wear glasses after seeing another imperfect "Perfect Doll" named Nolan be forced to wear an "ugly" sign due to his freckles.

The Ugly Dolls' first days of training end in disaster. They dress up like the perfect dolls for a better chance at reaching the Big World . In response, Lou sends the Spy Girls – the Perfect Dolls Tuesday (Bebe Rexha), Kitty (Charli XCX), and Lydia (Lizzo) – to kidnap Ox, and makes him confess to Moxy that he and Lou were once friends who trained for the Gauntlet. Ox nearly passed the training but the Perfect Dolls turned on him at the last minute and Lou saved him and sent him down the tunnel to escape. Ox found the recycling center and realized that Ugly Dolls aren't supposed to exist. He survived and boarded up the recycling center entrance to redirect Ugly Dolls to his new home, and when the town sprung up there, decided to keep the Big World a secret to protect the other Uglies from heartbreak. Demoralized, Moxy abandons her quest and returns to Uglyville.

Learning that Ox has called them rejects, the residents of Uglyville all fall into despair. Moxy resigns herself to her fate, but Mandy visits and convinces her that she must keep her conviction that there is a child for her, to give the other Ugly Dolls and imperfect "Perfect Dolls" hope. With her confidence renewed, Moxy decides to rejoin the Gauntlet, but she and Mandy are kidnapped by the Spy Girls on orders from Lou. He puts the duo in the reopened recycling system, where they will be shredded up and their parts sent back to the factory to be made into more "perfect" dolls. Ox soon finds out about this and rallies the other Ugly Dolls to come to their rescue, and the entire population of Uglyville arrives at the Gauntlet, to Lou’s chagrin. Lou decides he, Nolan, and the Spy Girls will run the gauntlet with them so they can hopefully sabotage it.

As the Dolls advance through the challenges, Ugly Dog tames a robot dog by dancing ("Bon Bon"), while Lou shows his true colors as a coward, leaving the Spy Girls and Nolan to fend for themselves and be rescued by the Ugly Dolls. Lou makes a robot baby cry after kicking it in the face, shocking his followers, but an empathetic Moxy comforts the crying baby instead of completing the course, leading everyone else to do the same. Lou alone crosses the finish line, but the system fails to recognize him as a winner, while Moxy and her friends are allowed to bypass the Gauntlet for making a child happy, a doll's true purpose. When the crowd demands an explanation from Lou, he admits that, as the prototype doll assigned to training duty, he is not allowed to enter the human world even if he does complete the gauntlet. When confronted, he further admits that, after seeing Ox nearly pass the training and realizing that an "Ugly" doll would be free while he himself never would be, he staged the whole "rescue" scenario out of sheer spite in hopes Ox would be killed in the recycling center.

Having lost everyone's respect, a desperate and jealous Lou smashes the portal in a last-ditch effort to keep Uglies from the Big World. The Uglies and the robotic dog team up in an attempt to stop him, but the portal has been ruined, and Nolan puts Lou in the washing machine as a punishment for his actions. Encouraged by Moxy and Mandy, the Ugly Dolls and the Perfect Dolls unite to make a new, permanently open portal from the pieces of the old one. They merge their hometowns to create the united Town of Imperfection under the mayorship of Ox. Moxy finally goes through the portal, where she is put into the arms of her special kid, a little girl named Maizy who is missing a tooth, just like Moxy herself.

During the credits , the Ugly Dolls, Mandy, and the Spy Girls are each shown to have found their own special kid with similar characteristics, while a bedraggled Lou is demoted and forced into janitorial duty, overseen by the robot dog.

Cast[edit]

  • Kelly Clarkson as Moxy, the leader of the group with insatiable curiosity and limitless confidence. Her design is based on that of Gorgeous, a character from the original toyline.
  • Janelle Monáe as Mandy, a kindhearted lonely perfect doll who wears glasses for eyesight problems and befriends the Ugly Dolls
  • Nick Jonas as Lou, the spiteful, conceited, and preppy leader from the town of Perfection and a bully villain towards the Ugly Dolls and the other imperfect dolls
  • Blake Shelton as Ox, the Unofficial Mayor of Uglyville, mentor to all of the other Ugly Dolls and former friend of Lou
  • Pitbull as Ugly Dog, a one-eyed dog and Moxy's closest and best friend[10]
  • Wanda Sykes as Wage, a cynical baker who can be frequently found cooking up some amazing and inventive culinary concoctions[10]
  • Wang Leehom as Lucky Bat, a gentle and thoughtful bat-like adviser, but he is very shy and insecure about his abilities.[10] He is loosely based on a red variant of Ice Bat.
  • Gabriel Iglesias as Babo, the largest, soft-spoken and handiest of the Ugly Dolls[10]
  • Emma Roberts as Wedgehead, the newest citizen of Uglyville[11]
  • Bebe Rexha as Tuesday, a blue-haired perfect doll and one of the Spy Girls
  • Charli XCX as Kitty, a pink-haired perfect doll and one of the Spy Girls
  • Lizzo as Lydia, a purple-haired perfect doll and one of the Spy Girls
  • Ice-T as Peggy, a small one-eyed flying unicorn
  • Laura Nicole Harrison as Jumbotron
  • Jane Lynch as Scanner, Electronic Voice
  • Kelly Asbury as Gibberish Cat, Oliver, Chef, Buttons; this was also Asbury's final voice role before his death in 2020[12][13]
  • Natalie Martinez as Meghan
  • Stephen Zimpel as Michael
  • Enrique Santos as Nolan, a not-so-perfect doll that Lou called Ugly in "The Ugly Truth"
  • Rob Riggle as Exposition Robot
  • Steven Schweickart as New Arrival
  • Afi Ekulona as Tray
  • Jacques Colimon as Sporko

Production[edit]

In May 2011, it was announced that Illumination had acquired the rights to Uglydolls to make an animated feature film. Chris Meledandri was set to produce, with a screenplay from Larry Stuckey. The original creators, David Horvath and Sun-Min Kim, were set to executive produce.[14] Four years later, in 2015, Variety magazine reported that an animated film based on Uglydolls would be the first project produced by STX Entertainment's new "family and animation" division.[15] On March 28, 2017, Robert Rodriguez signed on to direct, write, and produce the film, with a release date set for May 10, 2019.[16] Animation for the film was done at Reel FX Creative Studios.[17]

In March 2018, it was announced that the voice of rapper Pitbull would be featured in the film for an unknown role, and he would also provide an original song for the film.[18] In May 2018, it was announced that Kelly Asbury had signed on to direct the feature film.[19] In July 2018, another singer Kelly Clarkson joined the voice cast of the film as the voice of Moxy, and would provide an original song for the film.[20] In August 2018, Nick Jonas joined the voice cast of the film, and he would also perform an original song for the film.[21] In September 2018, comedians Wanda Sykes and Gabriel Iglesias joined the film.[22] On September 20, 2018, it was announced that country music singer Blake Shelton had joined the film, and would voice Ox, as well as performing original music.[23] In October 2018, it was announced that Wang Leehom, Janelle Monáe and Emma Roberts had been cast in the film.[11][24]

Music[edit]

The film features original music from Kelly Clarkson, Nick Jonas, Blake Shelton, Janelle Monáe, Bebe Rexha, Pentatonix, Anitta, and Why Don't We.[20][18][21][23] The musical score is composed by Christopher Lennertz while songs are written by Lennertz and Glenn Slater. The film's soundtrack was released by Atlantic Records.[25]

Clarkson's track "Broken & Beautiful" was released on March 27, 2019, prior to the album, as the soundtrack's lead single.[26] The Brazilian singer Anitta contributed "Ugly" to the original soundtrack in English. She also recorded two alternative versions of "Ugly", one in Spanish and one in Portuguese, for their respective markets. These versions were released prior to the release of the film and are not included in the soundtrack in these markets.[27]

Pitbull was also slated to have an original song for the film, which was to be a parody of "You Make My Dreams" by Daryl Hall and John Oates. However, Pitbull's contributions to the song were scrapped, as he broke the fourth wall as Uglydog. Pentatonix were then given the final version of the record, which was included in the movie's soundtrack. Pitbull's original version, titled "Dreams Come True", can be found on DJ record pools for promotional use.[28]

Release[edit]

UglyDolls was initially scheduled to be released on May 10, 2019, but was later moved up a week to May 3 in order to avoid competition with Pokémon: Detective Pikachu.[16][29]

The studio spent around $40 million on promotions and advertisements for the film.[5]

Home media[edit]

UglyDolls was released on Digital HD on July 16, 2019, and on DVD and Blu-ray on July 30, 2019.

Additional Media[edit]

A video game tie-in for various platforms was produced by Outright Games titled Ugly Dolls: An Imperfect Adventure, with the initial retail price being $39.99 USD.[30][31] A variety of merchandise, including plush toys, playsets, and blind bags were released by Hasbro featuring several characters from the movie.[32]

Reception[edit]

Box office[edit]

UglyDolls grossed $20.2 million in the United States and Canada, and $11.2 in other territories, for a worldwide total of $31.4 million.[33]

In the United States and Canada, UglyDolls was released alongside The Intruder and Long Shot, and was projected to gross $12–14 million from 3,652 theaters in its opening weekend.[34] The film made $2.5 million on its first day, including $300,000 from Thursday night previews. It ended up underperforming, debuting to just $8.6 million and finishing fourth.[5] The film fell 51.8% in its second weekend, grossing $4.1 million and finishing in seventh.[35]

Critical response[edit]

On Rotten Tomatoes, the film holds an approval rating of 27% based on 85 reviews, with an average rating of 4.41/10. The website's critical consensus reads, "Very young viewers may be entertained by UglyDolls, if only because they're less likely to recognize the many familiar elements in its affirmative yet formulaic story."[36] On Metacritic the film has a weighted average score of 39 out of 100, based on 20 critics, indicating "generally unfavorable reviews".[37] Audiences polled by CinemaScore gave the film an average grade of "B+" on an A+ to F scale, while those at PostTrak gave it 2.5 out of 5 stars and a 51% "definite recommend".[5]

Owen Gleiberman of Variety magazine gave a positive review, saying that "the sincerity with which UglyDolls pits unblemished conformity against ungainly soul is touching—and, yes, instructive—in all the right ways."[38] Jesse Hassenger of The A.V. Club gave the film a grade C− and wrote: "Like their Troll ancestors, the UglyDolls combine an evergreen cuteness with a why-now lack of currency."[39]

Accolades[edit]

List of awards and nominations
Year Award Category Recipient(s) Result Ref.
2019 Teen Choice Awards Choice Song From A Movie "Broken & Beautiful" Nominated [40]

References[edit]

  1. ^ "Christopher Lennertz to Compose Score & Songs for Kelly Asbury's 'UglyDolls' | Film Music Reporter".
  2. ^ a b Dave McNary (January 11, 2019). "China's Alibaba Pictures to Partner on STX's UglyDolls Franchise". Variety.
  3. ^ https://bbfc.co.uk/releases/uglydolls-2019
  4. ^ Verhoeven, Beatrice; Williams, Trey (April 23, 2019). "10 Riskiest, Priciest Summer Movie Gambles, From 'Dark Phoenix' to 'Detective Pikachu'". TheWrap. Retrieved April 24, 2019.
  5. ^ a b c d Anthony D'Alessandro (May 4, 2019). "'Avengers: Endgame' Mows Down 'Long Shot', 'Intruder' & 'UglyDolls' With $146M+ Second Weekend, Crosses $600M In Record Time". Deadline Hollywood. Retrieved May 4, 2019.
  6. ^ "UglyDolls (2019)". Box Office Mojo. Retrieved October 25, 2019.
  7. ^ Ryan Fujitani (May 2, 2019). "Long Shot is Certified Fresh". Rotten Tomatoes. Retrieved May 3, 2019.
  8. ^ Amidi, Amid (June 26, 2020). "RIP, Kelly Asbury, Director Of 'Shrek 2' and 'Spirit: Stallion of the Cimarron'". Cartoon Brew. Retrieved June 26, 2020.
  9. ^ "Kelly Asbury, Director of 'Spirit: Stallion of the Cimarron' and 'Shrek 2,' Dies at 60". Variety. June 26, 2020.
  10. ^ a b c d Alexander, Bryan (November 4, 2018). "'UglyDolls' first trailer: Watch Kelly Clarkson's wonderfully weird Moxy in animated movie". USA Today. Retrieved May 1, 2018.
  11. ^ a b Wiseman, Andreas (October 8, 2018). "Emma Roberts Joins STX Animation 'UglyDolls' With Kelly Clarkson & Blake Shelton". Deadline Hollywood. Retrieved October 8, 2018.
  12. ^ Amidi, Amid (June 26, 2020). "RIP, Kelly Asbury, Director Of 'Shrek 2' and 'Spirit: Stallion of the Cimarron'". Cartoon Brew. Retrieved June 26, 2020.
  13. ^ "Kelly Asbury, Director of 'Spirit: Stallion of the Cimarron' and 'Shrek 2,' Dies at 60". Variety. June 26, 2020.
  14. ^ Fleming, Mike (May 26, 2011). "Chris Meledandri's Illumination To Turn Uglydoll Into Animated Film". Deadline Hollywood. Retrieved August 16, 2017.
  15. ^ Lang, Brent (May 28, 2015). "STX Entertainment Plans Uglydoll Film, Launches Family Division (EXCLUSIVE)". Variety. Retrieved August 16, 2017.
  16. ^ a b Khatchatourian, Maane (March 28, 2017). "Robert Rodriguez to Direct 'Ugly Dolls' Animated Film for STX". Variety. Retrieved August 16, 2017.
  17. ^ "Why Hollywood Can't Stop Making Films About Lego, Emojis, And Angry Birds". Cartoon Brew. August 14, 2017. Retrieved June 18, 2018.
  18. ^ a b Dave McNary (March 13, 2018). "Pitbull Joining STX's Animated UglyDolls Movie". Variety. Retrieved June 18, 2018.
  19. ^ Donnelly, Matt (May 23, 2018). "STX Sets 'Uglydolls' Animated Series, Feature Streaming Deal at Hulu". TheWrap. Retrieved June 18, 2018.
  20. ^ a b Hipes, Patrick (July 11, 2018). "Kelly Clarkson To Lead Voice Cast Of STX's 'Uglydolls' Movie". Deadline. Retrieved July 11, 2018.
  21. ^ a b D'Alessandro, Anthony (August 29, 2018). "Nick Jonas Joins The Band For STX's 'UglyDolls' Movie". Deadline. Retrieved August 29, 2018.
  22. ^ McNary, Dave (September 12, 2018). "Wanda Sykes, Gabriel Iglesias Join Animated Feature 'UglyDolls'". Variety. Retrieved September 12, 2018.
  23. ^ a b Galuppo, Mia (September 20, 2018). "Blake Shelton Joins Kelly Clarkson in 'UglyDolls' Movie". Hollywood Reporter. Retrieved September 20, 2018.
  24. ^ Kroll, Justin (October 2, 2018). "Janelle Monae Joins Harriet Tubman Biopic and 'UglyDolls' Voice Cast (EXCLUSIVE)". Variety. Retrieved October 2, 2018.
  25. ^ "'UglyDolls' Soundtrack Details". Film Music Reporter. Film Music Reporter. Retrieved March 20, 2019.
  26. ^ Acevedo, Angelica (March 27, 2019). "'UglyDolls' Soundtrack Features New Music From Nick Jonas, Kelly Clarkson & More: See Track List". Billboard. Retrieved March 28, 2019.
  27. ^ Atlantic Records (April 11, 2019), Anitta - Ugly (Feia) (Portuguese Version) [Official Visualizer], retrieved April 15, 2019
  28. ^ Digital DJ Pool (May 22, 2020), Pitbull - Dreams Come True (Original Mix), retrieved May 22, 2020
  29. ^ D'Alessandro, Anthony (December 13, 2018). "STX's 'UglyDolls' To Launch First Weekend Of May". Deadline Hollywood. Penske Business Media, LLC.
  30. ^ "Ugly Dolls: An Imperfect Adventure". Outright Games. Retrieved October 11, 2020.
  31. ^ Snaith, Kim (August 9, 2019). "UglyDolls: An Imperfect Adventure Review". GameSpew. Retrieved October 11, 2020.
  32. ^ "Weird and Wonderful Plushies - UglyDolls". uglydolls.hasbro.com. Retrieved October 11, 2020.
  33. ^ "UglyDolls (2019)". The Numbers. Retrieved July 5, 2019.
  34. ^ Jeremy Fuster (April 30, 2019). "'Avengers: Endgame' Eyes Another Super-Powered Box Office Haul in 2nd Weekend". TheWrap. Retrieved April 30, 2019.
  35. ^ D'Alessandro, Anthony (May 12, 2019). "'Pokemon Detective Pikachu' Grabs $58M In 'Endgame' Dominated Universe; Marvel Pic 3rd Highest Domestic With $724M+ – Sunday Update". Deadline Hollywood. Retrieved May 12, 2019.
  36. ^ "UglyDolls (2019)". Rotten Tomatoes. Fandango Media. Retrieved May 2, 2020.
  37. ^ "UglyDolls (2019) reviews". Metacritic. CBS Interactive. Retrieved August 16, 2019.
  38. ^ Owen Gleiberman (May 1, 2019). "Film Review: 'UglyDolls'". Variety. Retrieved May 1, 2019.
  39. ^ Jesse Hassenger (May 1, 2019). "Leave UglyDolls on the shelf". The A.V. Club. Retrieved May 1, 2019.
  40. ^ https://ew.com/awards/2019/08/11/teen-choice-awards-2019-see-full-list-winners-nominees/

External links[edit]