Michael Scott

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Apr 4, 2017
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Movie: :2.5stars:
Video: :5stars:
Audio: :4.5stars:
Extras: :1.5stars:
Final Score: :3stars:


Universal has never been the forefront of animated films like Disney/Pixar/Dreamworks, but they have had a steady run of decent titles in the last decade. The Despicable Me films were fantastic, and while not AS good, The Secret Life of Pets is already working on it’s 2nd sequel according to reports, and even movies like Sing were pretty impressive. However, films like Uglydolls just reek of cheap consumerism, designed to sell toys and inundate little children with the catch all themes of “be yourself!”, “you’re special just the way you are!” and “nobody’s worthless!”. It’s the theme of probably 75%+ of animated movies these days with some having better success than others. Uglydolls is just so generically done and so generically directed that you can almost copy/paste any of those general themes into the film, slap some random musical numbers together and spit out the same movie time after time. It’s THAT predictable and cookie cutter.

In a doll making factory, the imperfect and ugly dolls are cast away into a chute that leads to uglyville. There they dream and wish that one day they can get sent out into the real world where they can find a child who will love them like all the “normal” dolls. Their leader, Ox (played by country superstar Blake Sheldon), has indoctrinated that they are great just where they are, but that someday they might get out of uglyville. The thing is, the dolls of Uglyville don’t know that ugly is “bad” per se. They cheerfully go about their day and treat each other well, but just have this hope of getting out of there. One ugly doll more so than the others. Moxy (Kelly Clarkson) is overly enamored with getting out and decides to make her OWN path out of Uglyville.

Along with a group of other misfit dolls (played by Pitbull, Gabriel Iglesias, Wanda Sykes and Leehom Wang) Moxy makes her way up the mysterious pipes that brought them there and finds a whole new world out there. There she finds the training ground where the regular dolls are trained by the brilliantly gorgeous Lou (Nick Jonas), who makes sure EVERYONE is perfect before leaving into the real world. Despite pushing the ugly dolls away, Moxy and her friends decided to go through the same training scenarios that the regular dolls go through, much to Lou’s chagrin. However, the deck is rigged against them, and our misfit “rejects” have no chance with Lou making sure that they fail at every step of the way.

Uglydolls is bright, cheery, and bubbly to the extreme. Not to mention a bit overly insipid with it’s tale of “it doesn’t matter what you are, you’re always beautiful to someone!” being rammed down your throat. It’s not that I find the general theme of the story to be offensive, but rather that it’s so ham fistedly executed that the grown ups are going to wince a little bit. The film really feels like a marketing venture by Universal to sell Uglydolls toys to children, while filling it with every generic pop song known to man (all autotuned the SAME way, and set to the SAME beats as pretty much every mid range animated film over the last 10 years).

Aesthetically the movie is perfect. The visuals are nothing short of stunning, the character creations for the ugly dolls are adorably cute, and the animation quality itself is top notch. However, that overwhelming sense of stale genericness keeps the film mired down in it’s overly enthusiastic attempts to be everything to everyone. As a general babysitter for young kids, sure, it’ll get the job done. There’s lots of sparkly colors, great animation, and lots of snazzy pop songs for the kiddywinks. However, for anyone outside of 8 or 9 as the glass age ceiling, this is going to fall pretty flat.


Rated PG for thematic elements and brief action

Video: :5stars:
The irony is not lost upon me that Universal has given this Blu-ray and absolutely STUNNING visual look to the film with such a mediocre internal movie, while the movie itself is championing beauty on the inside. I know, right!? It seems almost wrong, but the Blu-ray’s 1.85:1 framed Blu-ray is nothing short of digital perfection. This is straight form the digital tap beauty in animated form. For being a mostly lower budgeted animated film, the actual details and nuances of the character’s is superb. You can see every bit of fur on Moxy’s body, ever little twist and brain in Lou’s stranded hair, and the colors are just PHENOMENAL to behold. Deeply saturated, rich and full of every shade imaginable, Uglydolls is a cornucopia of shiny colors and incredibly detailed doll figures. I noticed a tiny flicker of banding near the opening credits, but other than that this is the best animated looking image in quite some time, and top shelf all the way.

Audio: :4.5stars:
The 7.1 DTS-HD MA track is not far behind the Blu-ray’s video quality either. The mix is robust and energetic, especially since this is a film dominated by countless pop songs. The surrounds kick in quite often with the music and are supplemented with a heavy dose of midbass from the low end department. However, even without the music there’s a lot of activity, with the crunching jaws of doom in the furnace, or the dollhouse gauntlet that Lou sends them through at the end. Dialog is clean and clear at all times, and the dynamic range is wide and varied throughout. All in all, an excellent audio mix.

Extras: :1.5stars:
• Making UglyDolls - Featurette
• Fun with the Cast of UglyDolls - Featurette
• Sing-Along Tease
• Trailers


Final Score: :3stars:

Uglydolls is not an offensive or BAD movie per se. It’s just a generic attempt that just paints too much by the numbers for its own good. The animation is fun. The songs catchy (almost TOO catchy, grrrr), and it has an admirable theme. The problem is that it tries TOOOOOO hard, and is a bit too sicky sweet with the thematic material. it’ll definitely work at driving mom and dad crazy with those pop songs while the under 10 year olds dance around to it, and Universal’s Blu-ray is simply top notch with the audio and video specs, but it’s definitely not for general audiences and most adults or children over 10 will have a hard time with it.

Technical Specifications:

Starring: Kelly Clarkson, Nick Jonas, Ice-T, Blake Shelton, Leehom Wang, Wanda Sykes, Gabriel Iglesias, Emma Roberts, Pitbull
Directed by: Kelly Asbury
Written by: Alison Peck, Robert Rodriguez
Aspect Ratio: 1.85:1 AVC
Audio: English: DTS-HD MA 7.1
Subtitles: English SDH, Spanish
Studio: Universal
Rated: PG
Runtime: 88 minutes
Blu-Ray Release Date: July 30th, 2019

Recommendation: For the Young Ones



AV Addict
Jul 13, 2017
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Thanks for the review. I had reservations about this one. Will skip it. lol. :)
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