Warning, this post contains spoilers for the animated musical UglyDolls.
As a recovering perfectionist, raising a now seven year old girl who often strives for perfection to the detriment of her self-confidence, I was thrilled when I heard about the STX films animated musical UglyDolls inspired by the eponymous plush dolls created by David Horvath and Sun-Min Kim. Featuring a heavy hitter cast with the likes of Kelly Clarkson, Janelle Monåe, Pitbull, Blake Shelton, and more, this delightful musical captivated the attention of my girls—which is no easy feat—while delivering lessons on hope, friendship, kindness, diversity, acceptance, courage, and determination.
My absolute favorite characters were Moxy and Mandy, voiced by Kelly Clarkson and Janelle Monåe. Unbreakable, their duet at the end of the musical, is a song I would listen to even if my girls weren’t around!
Moxy’s name says it all. Her hope and never settle for less attitude were inspiring. She certainly followed her truth and stayed true to herself throughout the film, despite the messages from Lou that she, and the other Ugly Dolls, “…don’t belong in the big world!” When I spoke with UglyDolls veteran, award winning director Kelly Asbury he remarked, “Everyone should have a little Moxy in them!” (Scroll down to hear the full interview with UglyDolls Director Kelly Asbury.)
I agree. I would add that everyone should also have a little Mandy inside them. I was drawn to Mandy at first sight. Perhaps it was simply my love for Janelle Monåe. Perhaps it was because representation matters and Mandy’s brown skin and puff allowed my girls to see themselves on the screen in a major role. Although Mandy was at the Institute of Perfection, you could see that she was a kind-hearted doll struggling to fit in with the mean dolls. We later learn that she has more in common with the Ugly Dolls than the others like her realize. Ultimately, kindness wins. What an important message given not only the state of our nation, but the climate of the school systems where our children attend school. My girls are young, but we’re already hearing about teasing and bullying, and the consequences including young people dying by suicide at alarming rates. We need a revival of kindness and empathy and hopefully UglyDolls will spark something in young people to bring it about.
It was interesting to me how vibrant Uglyville was, especially in comparison with the Institute of Perfection. I was struck by how the mood changed in Uglyville when the Ugly Dolls learned that they were rejects. I also found UglyDog and Wage, voiced by Pit Bull and Wanda Sykes, hilarious and endearing. I want to write so much more, but I’m afraid I’ll give it all away! Let’s just say that I would highly recommend UglyDolls, which opened in theaters nationwide on May 3rd, for children of all age. But don’t take my word for it. My littlest critics offered their thoughts on UglyDolls.