UglyDolls (2019) ain’t got no alibi.

A little bit of “Toy Story”, a little bit of “Monsters Inc” and a whole lot of cynical box-ticking does not an animated classic make.

In the adorable fabric world of Uglyville, the Moxy (Kelly Clarkson) yearns for the day when she will be chosen by a child of her very own to be loved by. Taking matters into her own hands, she sets out to journey to the other side of the tunnel to Uglyville and finds that her path to the big world lies through the literal conformity factory of the ‘Institute of Perfection’.

Cute character design and bright animation can’t overcome the muddled messaging and lacklustre, derivative story that “UglyDolls” brings to the screen. The songs are pleasant enough – if forgettable and while the voice cast is pretty decent, it’s hard to ignore that some of them were chosen not so much for their acting talent but their ‘so hot right now’ target demographic name recognition (looking at you Charli XCX. At least I think I am – I had to Google who you were).

Ultimately the film struggles to stay on its message that being different and proud of your own uniqueness and flaws because that’s where the story starts. The UglyDoll citizens of Uglyville put on a big song and dance number about how great it is being ugly only for them to be devastated and upset when the prissy mannequins of the Institute for Perfection call them ‘ugly’.

Entirely predictable, there’s enough colour and incident on screen to keep younger children occupied for its runtime but older children, teens and parents are going to tire quickly of the Cbeebies-level storytelling and the fact they’ve seen this story a dozen times before told a dozen times better than it is here. Neither Craggling has mentioned it once since we saw it, which just shows how little it stands out even in the mediocre movie summer of 2019.

3/10 

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