In an image-obsessed society where being "different" is uncool, "UglyDolls" provides the much-needed reminder that beauty is only skin deep - and who you truly are is what matters most.
Starring Kelly Clarkson, Nick Jonas, Janelle Monáe, Blake Shelton and Pitbull, "UglyDolls" is set in the whimsical town of Uglyville, where uniqueness is celebrated and being different is embraced.
Moxy, voiced by Clarkson, loves living among her fellow UglyDolls - but she desperately wants to find a child to love her. Growing impatient, she and a cadre of loyal friends decide to explore beyond their safe little town.
It's not long before they stumble upon the town of Perfection, run by the handsome and controlling Lou. In this town, perfection and conformity is idolized and dolls go "from pretty to perfect" before going out into the "real world."
In a town that rejects their unique appearance, the UglyDolls must remember who they truly are, and find that they've been remarkable all along. Moxy learns to embrace herself and discovers that it's her "flaws" that make her special.
Hitting theaters May 3, the film is directed by Kelly Asbury, who is behind a number of animated children's film, including "Shrek 2," "Sherlock Gnomes," and "Smurfs 2." The film is based on the wildly popular line of plush toys launched in 2001.
"I saw the characters, and I couldn't resist making this movie," he told The Gospel Herald. "I love a good challenge, and this was something I knew I had to be a part of."
An eye-catching musical, the film includes a number of pop-infused songs with titles like "Unbreakable," "Don't Change," and "Broken & Beautiful," sung by chart-topping artists including Clarkson, Jonas, and Bebe Rexha.
"The main challenge for me was to make something fun, something audiences would like to sit through," Asbury said. "How do you have something with 'ugly' in the title and encourage audiences to let go of that word and what it means? I really appreciated the challenge, and I hope that through this film, we undid some stereotypes."
Rated PG for thematic elements and brief action, the film is family-friendly, upbeat, and entertaining - and a good choice for parents who want to reinforce to their children the biblical truth that character is more important than appearance.
And kindness - to yourself and to others - Asbury said, is a lesson that audiences of all ages would do well to remember. He told The Gospel Herald that the film is ultimately about inclusion - and embracing those who are different from you, regardless of their appearance.
"A message of inclusion, tolerance, and embracing diversity cannot be a bad message for anyone, of any age," he said. "The younger kids learn that, the better. I really hope this film makes a difference in the lives of those who watch it."
"I want people to leave the theater surprised at how the film impacted them," Asbury added. "I want them to go out and simply be kind."
Watch an exclusive "UglyDolls" clip below.