New animated musical fable from Kelly Asbury (Smurfs: The Lost Village, Gnomeo & Juliet while also a published children’s books author and illustrator) is trolling off of Toy Story (and its sequels) and, yes, Trolls to diminishing returns engaging small fry at best.
Based on the line of plush dolls comes UglyDolls featuring the voices of Kelly Clarkson, Nick Jonas, Blake Shelton as Ox, Janelle Monae, as well as Wanda Sykes and Emma Roberts as Wedgehead which is content to play it safe while leaving ambition and creativity behind.
Having much of the cast singing stars allows the melodious, merchandizing intent to color nicely within the idea of being yourself means it’s okay to be different. Clarkson’s gap-toothed toy Moxy is at the heart of the narrative, a denizen of Uglyville unbeknownst that’s where the production irregularities are relocated. Her ebullience has her believing she’s onto the “big world” and being cherished by a young child.
Moxy’s curiosity leads her on a trek with fellow production gaffes like Sykes’ Wage and Ugly Dog (the artist known as Pitbull) to end up at the Institute of Perfection where training is necessary to withstand household stuff, not to mention pets before graduating to the real world. Jonas’s Lou is the snippy subjugator as the model of exquisiteness in this milieu. Something meaningful (read cheerful), of course, will happen from the conflict that will ensue with songs heard for inspirational effect. Notably from Moxy and Mandy (singer/songwriter Janelle Monae of Welcome To Marwen and Hidden Figures) who befriends the former at the special ‘finishing school.’
In remaining close to the vest of these kinds of movies (as more parents anxiously await “Detective Pikachu” and “Sonic The Hedgehog”) the filmmaking just churns idly for the requisite adornment ironically stilted from the story to the vocals and music for what’s called Uglydolls.