Lurking low in the shadows of Transformers’ behemoth box office is the summer’s second toy-inspired flick, Bratz: The Movie. That both films feature a supporting performance by Oscar winner Jon Voight is an unfortunate coincidence. Owing less to the fashion friendly Barbie doll knockoff than to Mean Girls, Bratz is your standard tale of high school cliques.
A freshman quartet of BFFs is challenged by self-centered student council president Meredith (Chelsea Staub, relishing her villainous role), a fascist-in-training who separates her school into factions delineated by academic or extracurricular activities. After the girls are divvied up at orientation, the film flashes forward two years and finds our foursome incommunicado and firmly established in their respective cliques of cheerleading, soccer, chemistry and journalism. But the ambitious temporal leap has little relevance — other than to curate a Sweet Sixteen plot point — because the changes that have occurred could have easily happened over a two-week period. Naturally, the girls are able to put the fate of their popularity on the line in order to rekindle their friendship with the ease that only such declawed cinematic creatures can do. Dramatization of sociological inquiry this is not.
The female-skewed story and the barrage of inexperienced actors, mind-numbing pop music and obvious humor render the film inaccessible to males of any age. Nonetheless, the film is considerably more wholesomeness than the dolls that inspired it — curves aren’t everything and neither are boys — which makes it harmless fodder for pre-teen girls’ fantasies of a just and painless high school experience.