A light-hearted animated film featuring oddball characters imparts valuable life lessons for children and adults.
From those adorable Care Bears to the sweet-natured Snoopy and Japan’s beloved Hello Kitty, it’s safe to say that many cartoon characters are intended to be visually cute and cuddly.
The cartoon universe, however, is also home to a collection of misfits that don’t quite fit the mould.
Characters like Homer Simpson, Squidward, Chuckie Finster and even MTV’s slacker duo Beavis and Butt-Head were created to seemingly shake up our pre-conceived notions of animation.
Let’s not forget modern cartoons of today like Adventure Time, The Amazing World of Gumball, Family Guy and Rick and Morty, all of which incorporate offbeat elements like dark humour and odd-looking characters.
This brings us to UglyDolls, the computer animated musical comedy showing across UAE theatres this week.
Based on the popular toy brand of the same name, the movie follows the story of a bunch of deformed toys that are thrown into the remote town of Uglyville, a place where weirdness and strangeness are embraced.
Conflict arises when Moxy (Kelly Clarkson) gathers a group of fellow UglyDolls to move to Perfection, a town where conventional dolls receive training before entering the real world to find love from children.
Moxy and her friends suddenly find themselves struggling with their feelings of insecurity as they try to fit in with the ‘normal looking’ toys around them.
With goofy-looking appearances, the UglyDolls are not flawlessly cute, but that’s exactly where the appeal of the movie lies, according to its cast members.
“I love the UglyDolls and what they represent,” said singer-songwriter Janelle Monáe, who voices Mandy.
“We’re the weirdos. We’re the outcasts. We’re the cool ones because of that, but we see it and we discover it because of each other.”
And while UglyDolls isn’t only challenging preconceptions of what animated characters should look like, it’s also addressing stereotypes about us as humans and celebrating those who are different.
“Perfection doesn’t exist and what I want for young people, for kids, is for them to appreciate what it is to be different, that it’s something good,” stressed rapper Pitbull, who voices UglyDog in the film.
“With social media, we’re only seeing followers and likes. Forget about that, we have to be leaders and unique – that’s the important thing. Between filters and Photoshop, we end up looking like people we aren’t.”
Also starring: Nick Jonas, Blake Shelton, Leehom Wang and Wanda Sykes
By Ferdinand Godinez