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Archive for February 17th, 2009

Is the abyss looking back into me?  Not sure.

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Yahoo Movie Mom, I respectfully disagree.

There’s a certain sense of dread and sadness that I feel when Netflix rentals arrive in the mail.   This sense was only amplified when I tore open an envelope to reveal this piece of work and I wish I was wrong about it.  I really, really wish I had something nice to say.

Bratz, in case you don’t know, are a bunch of dolls that have freaky overlarge heads and crackhead eyes that sell like hotcakes to little girls.  Of course they had to have a live-action movie tie-in; that’s pure, good business sense, right?

The overwhelming theme of the movie is to stay true to oneself and to overcome the power of cliques; each of the Bratz has talents in a specific area that a snobby girl at their new high school uses to force them into specific social groups.   Two years down the line, they never talk and it takes a school food fight to reconcile the friends.   The snobby, authoritarian girl at the school will not let them flaunt the rules as such, however, and most of the movie is devoted to the Bratz versus Snob Girl.

Try as I might I can’t look back to my teen/tween years and imagine liking this at all.  For all the schmaltz about “best friends forever!” and “loving yourself for who you are” the movie’s chock full of non-acceptance; geeks are given makeovers, the math nerd who the brainy Brat falls for has his glasses pulled by her immediately.   Honestly, for all the movie’s exhortations that it is about self-love and acceptance, it’s too shallow to get that far.   It’s more about the pretty costumes and stupid jokes it’s busy cracking, too busy patting itself on the back for including relatable girls from all backgrounds, too intensely focused on the girls’ bond that seems sealed as much by fashion as it is by some semblance of friendship.

I’m tired of watching movies made for little girls and grown-up girls that focus on the healing power of chit-chat about lip gloss or picking out stylish outfits together.   One girl is into science and math; one is a talented soccer player; one is into journalism and singing and the last is a cheerleader extraordinaire.   Yet the girls spent countless hours – as much time as they do, if not more, on their own personal strengths, talking about lip gloss and high heels and perfect accessories.   Look, I don’t doubt this is important to women.   Stupid lip glosses are important to me – I recently found the perfect shade of apricot lip gloss, but I didn’t spend twenty minutes waxing poetic about it to my best friend and I never did when I was in junior high.

I long for a movie for girls that does not push this stuff on them hand over fist.  I can’t imagine the target audience for Bratz is actually high-school age, probably younger – and while there’s nothing wrong with being obsessed with fashion, I’m tired of almost every female character I watch in movies – for young women and old – seemingly driven and obsessed by something as perfunctory as mascara.  Clothes and makeup are but one part of life for anyone and I wish… I really wish… that some movies really and truly reflected that for women.

And while the Bratz girls fall apart at the seams, they’re too perfect to feel real.   The ending of the movie, where the girls form some sort of super singing group to defeat the Snob Girl at the talent show, simultaneously gain acceptance from their parents and win the approval of their school just feels hollow and stupid.   Perhaps I shouldn’t hold it to higher standards, but it’s boring and lame.   If I were twelve?   I would’ve rather watched The Blues Brothers, but then again, I was a weird kid, I suppose.   It’s so heavy on the schmaltz you feel almost like you’re in a sugar-coma by the end of the flick and there’s nothing satisfying about it.

I suppose kids might find it feel-good, or inspiring, or whatever, but I just see another marketing tie-in with a thin veneer of self-help babble laid over the top.

Blech.

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