Wednesday, December 19, 2007

BRATZ - THE MOVIE - better than you might think; still not particularly good

I am constantly at a loss to understand popular culture's obsession with audition shows and talent contests. It seems as if we've all reverted into a pre-modern era of entertainment. Before irony and Woody Allen we had vaudeville and freak shows. Now, we can have both at the same time thanks to X FACTOR, POP IDOL, STRICTLY COME DANCING et hoc ad nauseam. If HIGH SCHOOL MUSICAL perfectly captures and exploits this trend, BRATZ: THE MOVIE is a weak parody of it. The story arc is pretty similar to HSM1 and HSM2. Four aggressively fashion-conscious friends turn up to their new high school to be confronted by extreme segregation between the different cliques. As the girls all fall naturally into a different clique, they soon find themselves hanging out in different crowds. When they want to hang out together, their new friends make them feel guilty. Then, pace HSM2, we get a classic haves versus have-not situation. The control-freak alpha-female who's running the school is also stupidly rich, and she's throwing an amazing Sweet Sixteen party to cement her popularity. Part of her schtick is to embarass one of the Bratz who is from a poor family. Of course, everyone is healed by the Power of Music a.k.a. a big song and dance number where we learn that we should move beyond cliques and stand united. But if that were to happen, what would Hollywood teen comedies do for plot devices?!

BRATZ has a far weaker cast, script and score than HIGH SCHOOL MUSICAL and is as predictable as the Huckaboom turning to a Huckabust. God knows what Jon Voight is doing here - cashing in his pension presumably. But for all that BRATZ isn't a complete pile of pants. It has a certain slickness and professionalism that one might expect from a production team schooled in American kids TV shows, from That's So Raven! to Boy Meets World to Home Improvement. And, given how obnoxious the dolls that inspired the movie are, its painfully politically-correct, saccharine message is arguably something to be thankful for.

BRATZ went on release earlier this year and is now available on DVD.

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