‘Bratz’: OMG! This movie is like so bad!

Thu, 08/09/2007 - 3:02pm
By: Andrew Widener

In the film adaptation of “The Great Gatsby,” Daisy Buchanan, played by Mia Farrow, having just been humiliated by her husband’s apparent tryst, tells her cousin Nick Carraway, “And when I was in the delivery room, waking up from the ether, I asked the nurse whether it was a boy or a girl. She said it was a girl—and I turned my head to the side and cried. And then I said, I hope she grows up to be a pretty little fool. That's about the best a girl can hope for these days, to be a pretty little fool.” Unfortunately for the second sex, that is all the girls in the movie “Bratz” are: pretty little fools.

“Bratz” is the logical emanation of two separate phenomena in our recent culture: the mass-marketing of movies that have as both their main characters and plot elements stereotypical valley girls, and the ridiculous practice by the studios of basing movies on toys and theme park rides. “Bratz” comes from the dishonorable tradition of “Clueless” and “Mean Girls,” their seeming raison d’être being to explore the various ways in which young women can divest their behavior from notions of self-respect, intelligence, and meaning.

This movie is also rotten to the core because it is based on toy dolls whose sensibilities might in the United Kingdom be called chav and in America déclassé and buffoonish. “Bratz” provides a narrative for these dolls that has been lacking since they were released in 2001, but the narrative is so barefacedly hollow as to make it absolutely clear the movie exists only to exploit little girls and their parents’ buying power.

As for the plot, the direction of which any somnambulant viewer will know completely after a few minutes, there are four girls, Yasmin, Jade, Sasha, and Cloe, who are clumsily contoured to racial stereotypes: the black girl’s parents are separated; the Asian girl, whose father is white, is scholastic; at the Hispanic family’s house there is a mariachi band in the kitchen. They fatuously stumble through the travails of high school together, then separated by cliques, then back together, as if it would have ended any other way. (Rehab or a DUI, perhaps?) The only constant during these changes is their undying devotion to gaudy fashion, representative of the coarse materialism “Bratz” propagates.

The conflict in “Bratz” revolves around the cliques rigidly imposed on all students by Meredith, the bizarrely choleric student body president who in several ways recalls Eva Perón. Yasmin, Jade, Sasha, and Cloe fall into these cliques but realize their friendship with each other is more important. Their rebellion against Meredith’s totalitarian compartmentalization invites her wrath, and she has powerful allies. Principal Dimly (Jon Voigt in a role he should have fled from) is Meredith’s feckless and deferential father, and he presides at his daughter’s whim over Carry Nation High School. The details of what follows are irrelevant because “Bratz” is mercilessly formulaic: Meredith gets humiliated and this trashy calamity ends.

As the stupefyingly boring and inept cast and script caused my disapproval to wilt, I began to see “Bratz” not for what it was made to be but what it can become: a campy text to be used years from now when historians study how our culture produced celebridiots like Paris Hilton (after whom Meredith’s dog is named), Lindsay Lohan, and the hordes of squealing tweens who worship them. But until “Bratz” can be safely classified as an artifact of pop culture, mothers and fathers should take heed: you are a bad parent if you take your children to this movie.


login to post comments