Fox // 2004 // 61 Minutes // Rated G
Reviewed by Judge Brett Cullum // September 16th, 2004
Only BRATZ are BRATZ! -- Actual marketing line from commercial
Bratz are a line of fashion dolls that have become wildly popular among young girls for their " out there" fashions, huge removable feet and shoes, and more funky hip-hop attitude than the staid Midwestern Barbie can muster. It was only a matter of time before parent company MGA Entertainment partnered with Fox to market the allure of the Bratz phenomenon with a release on video. So now we have the direct-to-DVD release Bratz the Video: Starrin' and Stylin' in front of the court. Will kids be wowed? Will parents run and hide when it hits the DVD player?
The story follows Chloe, Sasha, Yasmin, and Jade as they prepare for Stiles High's prom. The girls are assigned an art project to "express themselves" the week of the big dance. All four girls protest this extra work during such an important week, and they decide to collectively make a video showcasing all four of them to turn in. To add to their troubles, a new gossip column in the school newspaper is running items by an anonymous author that reveal all of their secrets and insecurities. Will the prom be a success? Will they pass the art final with their video? Will the gossipmonger ruin their lives?
The first thing anyone will notice is the cool packaging of the DVD. It comes in a limited edition Bratz plastic purse that the case slips into nicely. It's an accessory and video all in one. The colors on the box and packaging are typical Bratz -- glittering and bright. Little girls are going to go crazy when they see this on the shelves. The feature is animated and runs about an hour. The graphics are lively and colorful, and it all looks bright and nicely saturated, as any cartoon about budding fashionistas should be. Oddly enough, all the girls have huge lips and eyes, long hair, and no noses. In profile you see a tiny point, but honestly it looks like they don't have a nose most of the time. So right there you see an agenda forming -- pretty girls have big, full lips; large, soulful eyes; and tiny, unnoticeable noses. Aw, those Bratz are so cute! I loved the fact that the girls had little or no discernible ethnicity as well. I know that sounds like a problem, but they are all different colors, and their ethnic identities are never even brought up. The Bratz live in an ideal world where race is not important, or at least not as important as shopping and makeovers.
The girls embody crass consumerism. They spend a lot of time at the mall, and many many sequences show them getting dressed or planning to wear a certain outfit. The Bratz dolls are fashion dolls, so clothes are their most important concern; did you expect them to be diplomats or neurosurgeons? Likewise, they don't seem overly concerned with school, although the prom is an all-out major event. The funny thing is that, with four girls, only two boys show up in the story: Dylan and Cameron. The boys will escort them to the dance, but little is made of who is dating who. It's junior high dating styles imposed on high school girls -- which should be appropriate for the age of the target audience.
I've raised some political issues, but honestly this is light and breezy fare that should entertain little girls effectively. Bratz are fun-loving and loyal to their friends. They appreciate each other for the qualities each girl brings to the group, and nothing offensive really jumps out. Sure, they aren't too ambitious or brainy, but I wouldn't have expected that to be part of the plot, given that the ultimate goal of the video is to push a line of dolls. And you know what? That's fine with me. I loved the bright colors, the nice breezy pop songs sprinkled throughout the video, and all the references to guacamole (seriously, they bring it up in almost every scene).
The DVD itself has many extra items and activities to keep young girls busy. There is a mix-and-match fashion feature (naturally), a deleted scene, bloopers, karaoke songs, a music video, and a TV spot for the real dolls and their Formal Funk collection (these include dolls with real eyelashes!). Surprisingly, there is a horoscope feature you can access to determine you and your friends ' compatibilities with each other and potential dates. Seems like it's training for future Cosmopolitan readers.
The only problem I can see with the DVD is the onscreen menu controls. They are quite complicated, and I found myself fumbling through them trying to get the hang of how to change options on many of the games and activities. Kids may have more patience, but I thought the menus should have been clearer and easier to navigate.
Feminists will be horrified at the shallowness of the Bratz as role models. Likewise, parents of Bratz fans may want to talk to their children about group mentality and whether fashion is really as important as the Bratz portray it to be. Sure, it's important, but school and being a good person should come first. At least the Bratz espouse the value of friends.
Not much here for the adults, but the girls will find it funky and fun. Bratz is all about fashion and having a good time. Nothing wrong with that sentiment.
The Bratz are free to go entertain little girls everywhere. Parents may want to monitor the message the video gives, but they will find little to really raise eyebrows. They also will not find the movie very entertaining to the older set. Unless they just love cute fashions and guacamole!
Review content copyright © 2004 Brett Cullum; Site layout and review format copyright © 1998 - 2013 HipClick Designs LLC
Scales of Justice
* Full Frame
* Dolby Digital 2.0 Surround (English)
* Dolby Digital 2.0 Surround (French)
* Dolby Digital 2.0 Surround (Spanish)
Running Time: 61 Minutes
Release Year: 2004
MPAA Rating: Rated G
* Deleted Scene
* 6 Karaoke Songs
* BRATZ Love Horoscopes
* BRATZ Fashion Mall Game
* BRATZ Trivia Game
* Music Video
* BRATZ TV Spot