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Posted by on May 3, 2019 in Culture | 0 comments

REVIEW: ‘UglyDolls’ and the biblical definition of beauty

REVIEW: ‘UglyDolls’ and the biblical definition of beauty

Moxy is a three-toothed, odd-looking doll who lives in a world of misfits.

Her home is “Uglyville,” a place for stuffed animals that aren’t perfect. Some have one eye. Some have three. Either way, they’re too “ugly” to sell. Supposedly, no one would buy them.

Moxy, though, doesn’t view herself as ugly. In her world, “ugly” is a good word. She embraces her flaws. Besides, she’s beautiful on the inside—joyful, optimistic and bubbly.

Life is perfect. Well, almost. Moxie’s goal is to be owned by a loving child. Uglyville’s mayor, Ox, tells her kids are a myth.

“The big world and the children do not exist,” he says.

But Moxy doesn’t give up. One day, she and a few Uglyville friends journey outside of town and discover another city. It’s called the Institute of Perfection, where every toy looks and acts perfect. Their leader, the blonde-haired Lou, says they are perfect. He even has a song about it.

Of course, the people from Uglyville aren’t welcome in the land of Perfection.

It’s a clash of worldviews: Moxy and her embrace of imperfections vs. Lou and his worship of beauty. Which side will prevail? 

The animated film UglyDolls (PG) opens this weekend, starring Kelly Clarkson as Moxy, Blake Shelton as Ox, and Nick Jonas as Lou. Pitbull, Ice-T and Gabriel Iglesias also have roles. 

The film is based on a line of plush toys and follows in the footsteps of other movies—such as Angry Birds, the Lego series and My Little Pony—that build a story around games or toys.

In UglyDolls, Lou tells Moxy and her friends to leave his city, but they opt to stay and train alongside the other toys to chase after perfection. Soon, though, one of the Perfection dolls, Mandy, befriends Moxy and the others. Mandy has glasses—a no-no in her city—and questions Lou’s desire to change everyone “from pretty to perfect.” Moxy and Mandy lead a rebellion.

UglyDolls has a solid core message but it has its own, well, flaws. It’s a bit slow at times. It also has one or two worldview problems (see below).

Still, my 7-year-old daughter said she liked it. 

UglyDolls is labeled a musical, although most of minutes are filled with dialogue.

Warning: minor/moderate spoilers!

(Scale key: none, minimal, moderate, extreme)

Violence/Disturbing

Minimal. The UglyDolls get stuck on a recycling center conveyer belt and are nearly torn to pieces. Lou gets hit and kicked a few times in the film’s finale.

Sexuality/Sensuality/Nudity

None.

Coarse Language

None. We only hear gosh (3), butts (1) and the awkward phrase “oh my doll” (3).

Other Positive Elements

One of the dolls shows mercy to a Perfection doll who bullied her. Moxy’s optimism is contagious to the other dolls. She does not get discouraged.   

Other Stuff You Might Want To Know

A doll named Lucky gives Moxy “daily numbers.” He also jokingly tells her to “find your own truth.” Later, Moxy repeats that phrase in a speech to the dolls. Lou bullies the Uglyville dolls. 

Life Lessons

UglyDolls provides lessons on optimism (Moxy), determination and perseverance (Moxy) and the definition of beauty (several characters—see below),

Worldview/Application

UglyDolls has a core message I can fully endorse: Beauty isn’t skin deep. Inner beauty is what truly matters. Imperfections make you you. It’s heartbreaking to watch Mandy sing, “If I could choose who I could be, I’d choose a whole new me.” Here, Moxy has it right: “Our flaws make us who we are.” And: “It’s our differences that make us shine.” That’s a home run message. No one is flawless (Google “models without makeup” if you want proof).

Moxy learns perfection is not obtainable.

“Perfect is not real,” director Kelly Asbury told WordSlingers this week. “If you strive for perfection, by someone else’s definition, you will never achieve it.”

But Moxy’s worldview is incomplete. After all, what is the foundation for her beliefs? She soon answers that question. It’s herself. “You define yourself. You and no one else,” she sings. Later, she tells everyone: “We found our own truth.” Maybe she means her “own truth” of beauty, but the Christian worldview provides a better answer.

The Bible teaches we are valuable because we are made in the image of God. Our identity is found in Christ.

God’s definition of beauty focuses on the inside. I often ask my daughter, “What is the definition of beauty?” She always answers it the same way: “It’s to love God and to love others.” UglyDolls nibbles at the correct answer. It’s up to Christian parents to fill in the blanks.  

Sponsors

Hardee’s, Carl’s Jr., Hasbro and Cold Stone Creamery are four of the most well-known partners.

What Works

The music. I could have used more of it, though.

What Doesn’t

The film’s name is UglyDolls. It’s based on a line of plush toys with the same name. I’m uncomfortable with the word “ugly” in a toy line. The film’s message does help take the sting out of that word, but in my home and among my four children, “ugly”—when addressing appearance—is a bad word.

Discussion Questions

1. What is the definition of beauty?

2. How does the world define beauty? How does God define beauty?

3. Do you agree with Moxy that “our flaws make us who we are”?

4. Moxy says, “We found our own truth.” What does she mean? Define truth.

5. Can we strive for worldly beauty without being vain? 

Entertainment rating: 2.5 out of 5 stars. Family-friendly rating: 4.5 out of 5 stars.

UglyDolls is rated PG for thematic elements and brief action.

About The Author

Michael Foust
Michael Foust https://michaelfoust.com/

Michael is the husband of his amazing wife, Julie, and the father of four awesome kids. He's been a full-time editor and writer for 20 years, first in the sports field and currently in the Christian realm, with degrees in journalism and theology. His interests include college football, movies, nature, travel, history, photography and current events.

Michael Foust has blogged 119 posts at wordslingersok.com

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