While desecrating classics is all well and good, sometimes it’s nice to unload on universally agreed-upon dreck. Few things better meet the moniker of dreck than the 2007 film “Bratz.”
Starring nobody you’ve ever heard of and featuring Academy Award winner Jon Voight as a supporting villain, “Bratz” is one of those rare movies that earns the distinction of being genuinely painful. It’s difficult to even know where to begin digging through the monstrosity that lies before us, but the characters seem like a good place to start.
Charitably, they can be described as reductive. Uncharitably, they can be described as vapid, poorly realized and uninteresting. Considering that the movie is based on a line of toys, we shouldn’t have expected too much. But considering that there is an excellent movie based on Legos out there, I don’t think it’s unfair to hope for at least a competent film.
While the main four are not shining examples of characterization, the villain is the crowning jewel. Meredith is the daughter of the improbably affluent high school principal, played by an incredibly poor man’s Rachel McAdams. In fact, Meredith herself is a poorly realized Regina George, taking the plot of “Mean Girls” and bastardizing it to a degree where the natural cliquishness of high school is the sole focus of the entire movie.
Meredith’s only want is to divide the school into its respective groups, trying to force them to never intersect. Surrounding Meredith is the Great Sea of Stereotypes, typified by our main characters: The Poor One, The Smart One, and The Ethnic Ones. Admirably, The Poor One is the only white main character, while the remaining leads are all people of color. Of course, “Bratz” immediately loses this one favorable note by having the POC be stereotyped to the moon and back, with the Latina character being an especially egregious example.
She and her family, with her “chocoholic” mother Bubbie (yes, really) and her brother Manny, are a wonderfully inept attempt to display a typical Latin American family. Manny is an entertaining exercise in failure.
While I think the screenwriter was trying to make a Mexican stereotype, he ended by making a New Jersey stereotype instead. The only word you can really use to describe him is “guido”: he is constantly preening, carrying a comb, smirking in the mirror or at others, and is usually dressed in a wife-beater.
The story is an unholy mess as well. Basically, it starts with the characters as friends, then they’re not, then they are again, then there’s a scene masquerading as a birthday party that is little more than egregious product placement for MTV, then there’s manufactured drama, then a talent show and then it’s over.
The one through line here is Discount Regina George herself, Meredith. The one interesting thing to me is that it’s pretty much exclusively her actions that move the plot forward, not our protagonists. She drives them apart, she brings them to the party, she is the main impetus for the talent show as well as the climax at the talent show.
Poorly written as Meredith may be, it’s genuinely fascinating to see a movie where all of the important plot information is funneled nearly exclusively through the antagonist. “Bratz” is awful, but at least it’s hilarious in its awfulness. When you start a movie and see the opening credits are in Comic Sans, you know you’re in for quite a ride.