UglyDolls ★★

For a disposable piece of children’s entertainment that features Pit Bull as the voice of a one-eyed, party-mad puppy named Ugly Dog, there’s something refreshingly straightforward about how “UglyDolls” goes about its agenda. At no point in its mercifully brief running time does this colorful pop confection pretend that it’s anything more than an 88-minute commercial for an innocuous brand of plush toys, and for that we should be grateful. Sure, it’s not as psychedelic as “Trolls,” nor as impressive a monument to the mediocrity of late capitalism as “The Angry Birds Movie,” but at a time when the typical animated movie spends $100 million trying to exhaust its young audience into submission, it’s kinda nice to see one that costs half that much, and tries half as hard.


Written by Alison Peck and Erica Rivinoja with an assist from Vivian Wang, the script doesn’t have much to go on, and it’s totally cool with that. In 2001, “UglyDoll” godheads David Horvath and Sun-min Kim created a line of semi-adorable stuffed animals that look like a cross between Ralph Wiggum and an inbred housecat; some of them have underbites, some of them have overbites, and all of them are designed to make kids feel like their supposed imperfections are the things that make them special. So far as this critic knows, the mythology pretty much stops there (although it seems that some of the characters were featured in a picture book about air conditioning?) “Game of Thrones” this is not.

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