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Blu-ray Review: UglyDolls

July 29, 2019 | by Herija Green | Comments Comments Off on Blu-ray Review: UglyDolls
Ugly dolls? More like adorable.

It was a bumpy road to get an UglyDolls movie, based on the plush toys of the same name, into movie theaters as it was originally attached to Illumination (Despicable Me, Secret Life of Pets) and veteran director Robert Rodriguez (Alita, Spy Kids). Rodriguez remained involved as a producer, but he turned the directorial reins over to Kelly Asbury (Gnomeo & Juliet), while STX Entertainment distributed the film. It’s here now, though, so it’s time to get ugly.

THE PLOT

In a world of dolls, those that end up irregular are sorted out and land in the makeshift town of Uglyville where they lead a happy existence. One of the dolls, Moxy (Kelly Clarkson), believes there to be more out there in the “big world,” where they’ll be paired with a child. While Mayor Ox (Blake Shelton) disputes the notion, Moxy and her friends decide to check out the hole where new dolls enter their world.

That exploration leads to the discovery of the Institute of Perfection, led by the hypercritical doll Lou (Nick Jonas), who prepares would-be children’s toys for entry into the world by running them through a series of tests. Despite clearly being unwelcome, Moxy and her friends — Ugly Dog (Pitbull), Lucky Bat (Wang Leehom), Wage (Wanda Sykes) and Babo (Gabriel Iglesias) — decide to try to pass nonetheless.

When the group proves impossible to dissuade, Lou sends some dolls to Uglyville to bring back Ox and explain to them that they don’t belong there because they were rejected by the factory, which is how they ended up down there. The news temporarily destroys morale in the town, but Moxy soon decides that she doesn’t believe that they don’t belong, and she returns with her friends to run the gauntlet even as Lou attempts to stop them.

THE GOOD

In what should come as a surprise to no one, the “ugly” dolls are, in fact, adorable. The world itself doesn’t offer many new ideas, but it’s colourful and nicely animated. The voice acting is solid with a focus on singers that creates some good, upbeat songs that kids will doubtless like listening to again and again — the Blu-ray actually contains a “sing-a-long” version where all the lyrics appear across the bottom of the screen.

Its cutesy, keep-a-positive-attitude vibe should connect best with young kids. We had the chance to watch it with three between the ages of five and nine, and they were engaged throughout. At around 90 minutes it’s also the proper length for that age range, getting in and out and moving at a quick pace to keep their attention.

THE BAD

With young children being the focus it feels a little weird to use the word “ugly” so frequently, even though the message is about inner beauty (and yes, we understand that the name of the product is the uglydoll). There’s no redemption arc for the main villain, either, which also seems strange since it might’ve helped drive the message home a little more if interacting with all these upbeat dolls made him turn over a new leaf.

There are lots of children’s movies that cross over and appeal to older audiences as well. This isn’t one of them. Sure, the songs are cute, and adults will watch it for their kids, but there’s no winks and nods for the grown ups. Everything aims low, striking the same notes and telling a story you can see coming from a mile off. Granted, you can see the destination of most kid films, but it’d be nice to spice things up along the way.

THE BONUS FEATURES

It’s some seriously slim pickings on the extras front where a bunch of short TV spots with the cast are bundled together to make up around 10 minutes of content. The various trailers are also included, a one-time staple of bonus features that’s unfortunately fallen by the wayside over the years, but even with that this is pretty bare bones.

OVERALL

UglyDolls should produce some laughs and singing with younger kids, but it’s not one that figures to hold up that well to repeated viewing.

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Blu-ray Review: Shazam!

July 15, 2019 | by Herija Green | Comments (0)
Shazam! is by far the most lighthearted of the DC films. It has become nearly impossible to talk about the “DC Universe” without comparing it to Marvel’s juggernaut. Judged purely on its own merits, however, the DC side has quietly been picking up some steam with Wonder Woman and Aquaman, which were both entertaining, sandwiching […]
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Blu-ray Review: Pet Sematary

July 8, 2019 | by Herija Green | Comments Comments Off on Blu-ray Review: Pet Sematary
Sometimes dead is better. Film adaptations of Stephen King‘s books have been, shall we say, uneven. For every Stand by Me there’s a Children of the Corn, for every Shining a 1408. At this stage what audiences are often getting is second efforts from previously adapted works, such as 2017’s IT, which was a ’90s […]
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Blu-ray Review: Wonder Park

June 15, 2019 | by Herija Green | Comments (0)
Look for the bare necessities, the simple bare necessities! In the modern world, animated movies are big business, and Paramount has been ratcheting up its own offerings under the Paramount Animation banner. Its last effort, Sherlock Gnomes, was a decent if forgettable little romp. This time we’re getting an “imagination come to life” story with […]
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Blu-ray Review: The Batman Four Film Collection 4K UHD

June 7, 2019 | by Herija Green | Comments Comments Off on Blu-ray Review: The Batman Four Film Collection 4K UHD
Meow. Believe it or not, there was a time that multiple superhero movies weren’t released every year covering nearly every comic book character you could think of. In fact, outside of a few Superman movies it was barren for most of the 1980s. Into that void stepped director Tim Burton and Michael Keaton, fresh off […]
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