For those fortunate enough to have escaped the Bratz phenomenon, there’s a certain type of doll which 8- to 10-year-old girls describe as totally awesome, while their parents describe them (the dolls, not their daughters) as crap incarnate. These dolls, which are encased within shiny pink boxes brandished with the slogan “girls with a passion for fashion,” are hunks of plastic dressed in tight, skimpy clothing and accessorized with voluminous hair, cell phones, and daddy’s credit cards. The Bratz dolls also have massive heads with oversized and heavily made-up eyes and lips, and pert little noses of the type only created by Dr. 90210. When you add their impossibly tiny waists and disturbingly voluptuous hips and busts into the picture, you’re left with a very lovely tranny prostitute. Let’s put it this way — these slutdolls make Barbie look like a total prude, and they’re not exactly what parents of these girls would welcome into the home. Which is probably why they are exactly what these same children whine for and are somehow receiving (Bratz sales beat out Barbie for the last quarter of 2006, meaning quite a few little girls squealed with delight when they found a slutdoll of their very own ho’ing underneath the Xmas tree). Turning to the film, there is one piece of good news: The Bratz movie wardrobe bears very little resemblance to that of the namesake dolls — their skirts might be too short and their heels too high, but the characters at least manage to keep their cleavage, crackage, and belly buttons covered. The bad news, however, is that Bratz is still a rather mind-numbing film that could have delivered some worthy messages but instead chose to heavily focus on the ever-so-important issue of choosing the most flattering shade of lip gloss for one’s complexion.
The plot of Bratz is as simple as one might expect from a half-assed Mean Girls knockoff. Four BFFs (Best Friends Forever!) start their first day at Carry Nation High School by coordinating their outfits online. When they arrive at school, the four girls stroll confidently past the cliques of jocks, cheerleaders, brains, and emos like three Heathers and a Veronica, with everyone looking at them and declaring: “They’re awesome!” However, the school’s reigning princess and the principal’s daughter, Meredith Baxter Dimly (Chelsea Staub), just won’t stand for the disruption of the clique system by any individual expression. So Meredith uses her foolproof system to manipulate the four BFFs into different cliques: Sasha (Logan Browning) is black and has the jammin moves, so she of course joins the cheerleaders; Jade (Janel Parrish) is Asian and super smart, so she falls in with the geeks; Chloe (Skyler Shaye) is the ditzy blonde who becomes a soccer star; and Yasmin (Nathalia Ramos) does nothing and has no friends but, since she’s half-Hispanic, she might find solace with the mariachi band that hangs out in her kitchen. Yasmin also has a grandma (Lanie Kazan) to sing “La Cucaracha” with at the most inopportune moments, such as when they both are wearing either beauty masks or guacamole on their faces. This is heavy, confusing stuff, people.
By junior year, the four BFFs don’t even speak to each other anymore, but then fate intervenes and the four find themselves together in detention. This is when they realize that they, like, totally miss each other, so they go shopping together and hatch a plan to, like, overthrow Meredith from her reign of terror. And how best to do away with tyranny?
A talent show!
As time must be found to properly rehearse for the upcoming performance, sacrifices are made — Chloe gives up her soccer, Sasha stops hanging with the cheerleaders, Jade lets her grades slip, and Yasmin … well, she remains hopeless and totally clueless. As a group, the foursome once again become somehow unstoppable, but they waste this power by mostly indulging in mutual materialism. After all, this is a world where anything remotely bad can be easily cured with a new and expensive pair of shoes. One of girls lets the following line slip out of her overglossed lips: “I love the smell of retail in the morning.” (Which begs the question: Where’s a canister of napalm when you really need it?) These girls essentially give up their own ambitions and interests in favor of bonding over vapidness masquerading as individuality, and this is supposed to be progress as promised.
As the villain, Meredith was written as the film’s most revolting character. But it turns out that Staub gives the only entertaining performance of the film. Meredith carries a yappy dog and sings vapid pop songs about her own fabulousness with such gusto that Staub almost takes us into the realm of satire. But the film is prevented from entering that realm thanks to director Sean McNamara (“That’s So Raven”), who’s so overwhelmed with shiny objects that the production quickly descends into a mating session between MySpace and MTV’s “My Super Sweet Sixteen.” Meanwhile, Jon Voight fumbles through all the film’s madness (including a carefully orchestrated food fight) as Meredith’s father, the school’s principal. It’s a role that takes very little acting talent, as the character does little more than step aside to let his 12th-grade daughter run the school while he haplessly thumbs though a copy of “How To Run A Prison” when not bumping into walls. While Voight doesn’t do much in terms of acting, he does sport a prosthetic nose, which makes one wonder whether he was trying to disguise himself or whether it’s just that Owen Wilson was booked during the week of shooting. Either way, I’d say it’s high time for Jon Voight to return his Oscar, with late fees to boot, while the rest of us skip the film and stay at home, keeping the roads clear so Voight can get to the Academy as soon as possible.
Agent Bedhead lives in Tulsa, Oklahoma and avoids the shopping mall at all costs. She also shows up daily at agentbedhead.com.Best Friends For Never
Film | August 4, 2007 | Comments ()