Theatrical release poster
|Directed by||Kelly Asbury|
|Screenplay by||Alison Peck|
|Story by||Robert Rodriguez|
|Music by||Christopher Lennertz|
|Distributed by||STX Entertainment|
|Box office||$32.5 million|
UglyDolls is a 2019 computer-animated musical 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, 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 Monae, 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 STX Entertainment, the first animated film produced by the company. It received unfavorable reviews from critics, who called it "well-meaning but derivative".
In a hidden universe, 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 ("Today's the Day"/"Couldn't Be Better"), despite Uglyville's Mayor Ox (Blake Shelton) assuring her this is a myth. On advice from the shy village 'wise man' 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 ("Today's the (Perfect) Day") 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 doll leader Lou (Nick Jonas) meets the Ugly Dolls ("The Ugly Truth"), 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 and be labelled 'imperfect.'
The Ugly Dolls' first days of training ("You Make My Dreams") end in disaster, as they are thrown into a washing machine which makes them end up like puffballs for even the slightest of messes, and they dress up like the perfect dolls for a better chance at reaching the Big World ("All Dolled Up"). Lou sends the Spy Girls, a trio of ruthless perfect dolls – Tuesday (Bebe Rexha), Kitty (Charli XCX), and Lydia (Lizzo) – to kidnap Ox, and makes him confess that he and Lou were once friends who trained for the Gauntlet, until Ox fell short of its standards and was banished to the doll factory’s recycling bin which he didn't end up and he soon was crying. After, he boarded it up to pave way for Uglyville, where he kept the Big World a secret from his fellow Ugly Dolls to protect them from the same rejection. Demoralized, Moxy abandons her quest and returns to Uglyville.
Learning the truth, the residents of Uglyville lose their morale, The next day, as Moxy resigns herself to a lifetime of sadness and self-loathing, Mandy visits and convinces her that what Lou said does not matter, only Moxy’s belief that there is a child for her in the Big World ("Unbreakable"). With her confidence renewed, Moxy decides to rejoin the Gauntlet, but she and Mandy are kidnapped by the Spy Girls on orders from Lou to take them to the recycling bin. The rest of the Ugly Dolls soon find out about this and come to their rescue, and they arrive at the Gauntlet, to Lou’s chagrin.
As the Ugly Dolls advance through the challenges, Ugly Dog distracts a robotic dog by putting on a disguise and dancing to help the other Ugly Dolls, ("Bon Bon") prompting Lou to try to sabotage Moxy. Nearing the finish line, Lou makes a robotic baby cry after kicking it in the face, prompting the Perfect dolls, including the Spy Girls, to shun him while an empathetic Moxy comforts the crying baby. Lou crosses the finish line, but Moxy and her friends are dubbed the winners for making a child happy — a doll's true purpose. Lou is revealed to be a 'prototype' by Lydia resulting in the original standards. Enraged, Lou — in a last-ditch attempt to keep the Ugly Dolls from leaving — tries to use a giant knitting needle to destroy the portal to the Big World believing if he can't go, then no one can. He is foiled by the Ugly Dolls and thrown into the washing machine by a doll named Nolan.
The Ugly Dolls and the Perfect Dolls fix the portal, make peace, and merge their hometowns to create the town of Imperfection ("The Big Finale"). Moxy finally goes through the portal, where she is put into the arms of her special kid, a little girl named Maizy who is revealed to have an imperfect mouth like Moxy's, much to her elation.
During the credits ("Broken & Beautiful"), the Ugly Dolls, Mandy, and the Spy Girls are each shown to have found their own special kid with similar characteristics, while Lou is demoted to janitorial duty and overseen by the robotic dog.
- Kelly Clarkson as Moxy, the leader of the group with insatiable curiosity and limitless confidence
- Nick Jonas as Louis "Lou", the mean, conceited, and preppy leader from the town of Perfection and a bully towards the UglyDolls and the other imperfect dolls
- Janelle Monáe as Mandy, a lonely perfect doll who wears glasses for eyesight problems and befriends the UglyDolls.
- Blake Shelton as Ox, the Unofficial Mayor of Uglyville, mentor to all of the other UglyDolls and former friend of Lou
- Pitbull as Ugly Dog, a one-eyed dog and Moxy's closest and best friend
- Wanda Sykes as Wage, a cynical baker who can be frequently found cooking up some amazing and inventive culinary concoctions
- Wang Leehom as Lucky Bat, a wise and thoughtful bat-like adviser, but he is a little insecure about his abilities
- Gabriel Iglesias as Babo, the largest, soft-spoken and handiest of the UglyDolls
- Emma Roberts as Wedgehead, the newest citizen of Uglyville
- 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
- 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
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. 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. On March 28, 2017, Robert Rodriguez signed on to direct, write, and produce the film, with a release date set for May 10, 2019. Animation for the film was done at Reel FX Creative Studios.
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. In May 2018, it was announced that Kelly Asbury had signed on to direct the feature film. In July 2018, another singer Kelly Clarkson joined the voice cast of the film as the voice of Moxy, and will provide an original song for the film In August 2018, Nick Jonas joined the voice cast of the film, and he would also perform an original song for the film. In September 2018, comedians Wanda Sykes and Gabriel Iglesias joined the film. On September 20, 2018, it was announced that country music singer Blake Shelton had joined the film, and will voice Ox, as well as performing original music. In October 2018, it was announced that Wang Leehom, Janelle Monáe and Emma Roberts had been cast in the film.
The film features original music from Kelly Clarkson, Nick Jonas, Blake Shelton, Janelle Monáe, Bebe Rexha, Pentatonix, Anitta, and Why Don't We. 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.
Clarkson's track "Broken & Beautiful" was released on March 27, 2019, prior to the album, as the soundtrack's lead single. For the Portuguese and Spanish dub-versions, the Brazilian singer Anitta recorded two new versions for this song called "Fea" which was launched for the Spanish speaking market called "Fea" (Ugly) and another for brazilian and portuguese markets called "Feia".These versions were released prior to the release of the film and are not included in the soundtrack in these markets.
The studio spent around $40 million on promotions and advertisements for the film.
Uglydolls has grossed $20.2 million in the United States and Canada, and $11.2 in other territories, for a worldwide total of $31.4 million.
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. 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. The film fell 51.8% in its second weekend, grossing $4.1 million and finishing in seventh.
On Rotten Tomatoes, the film holds an approval rating of 27% based on 77 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." On Metacritic the film has a weighted average score of 39 out of 100, based on 20 critics, indicating "generally unfavorable reviews". 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".
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." 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."
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