Netflix for Kids: Bratz: The Movie
Nathanael Smith | On 30, Apr 2017
Netflix for Kids is VODzilla.co’s monthly column that sends a grown man without kids into the barrel of the streaming service’s kids catalogue and searches for morsels of goodness at the bottom. For our guide to the best kids’ TV shows on Netflix UK, click here.
2007 doesn’t feel like that long ago, does it? Yet watch Bratz, and suddenly it feels like a totally different era, as alien to now as the 90s. In it, the fashion is all a mish-mash of gypsy skirts, pointless belts and cargo pants. Someone actually sings a line about having 10 million friends on MySpace. 2007 was also a year when a live action Bratz movie, based on a popular brand of ugly dolls, was seen as a good idea. Watching it gives you the horrible realisation that there’s probably a generation of people in their late teens now who watch this monstrosity with fond nostalgia. Bratz evokes an even more horrible sensation than that, however; about 20 minutes in, you may realise that you’re actually enjoying it.
The plot moves dizzyingly fast. Yasmin, Chloe, Sasha and Jade, who has a passion for fashion, are four inseparable BFFs with different interests about to start high school – will their friendship survive? That question is answered in the first twenty minutes as they all join different cliques, but then, the plot jumps two years ahead and they reunite. An entire film could have been about their first year, but the filmmakers have some more clichés to fit in, so they dispense with this first conflict and resolution quickly. The other key character is the student president, Meredith, who is determined to keep these four friends apart, because they’re too sassy and threatening. The rest of the plot involves a Super Sweet Sixteen party, an OTT talent show and a shopping montage, as their friendship is tested, then resolved, every 10 minutes or so.
It moves between these different skits so effortlessly that it becomes evident the writing team have literally put in no effort. Every conflict is hilariously contrived; the resolutions doubly so. Take the Super Sweet Sixteen party. Meredith wants the biggest, bestest party ever and Chloe’s mum is catering for it. Conflict one: Chloe’s mum falls ill, so the four buddies make all the food themselves, moving from people who’ve never cooked a thing to being professional caterers over the course of one montage. Then the servers back out, so our four fearless friends sacrifice their pride to serve at the party in clown costumes. But Jade, who has a passion for fashion, takes five minutes and turns clown costumes into Cool Fashion Clown Costumes and somehow colours and styles all of their hair. Those good, good four companions then steal the show from Meredith with their impeccable style and sass.
Other conflicts include the four awesome girls almost being thrown out of their respective teams, because they like one another too much, and a food fight that happens because of a convoluted slapstick set-piece that’s embarrassing to watch. One of the love interests is a deaf jock who overcomes his deafness by placing his hand on speakers. After just one speaker touch, he can judge the calibre of singing voices and be an expert DJ. Bratz is the kind of bad film that’s so surface-level and shiny, so soullessly capitalistic and shallow, that you begin to marvel at how committed it is to being vacuous. It transcends its stupidity to become that rarest of things: a good bad film.
Naturally, the big finale, a talent show that has been rigged by the irredeemably terrible Meredith (poor gal, she is given no qualities whatsoever), has a whole series of contrived conflicts and resolutions. Jade, who has a passion for fashion, is forced to confess to her pushy parents that she loves science, but she also has a passion for fashion. Other characters we haven’t seen once in the entire film then confess to a love for ballet or cheating in tests. Those four fabulous heroines then sing a song (or, at least, they lip sync to some clearly adult singers) and – no jokes – it ends with an MTV producer telling these good sweet Bratz that they have star power and they should sing at the premiere of a film next week. But of course.
Bratz is a terrible, terrible film. Watch, and enjoy.
Bratz: The Movie is available on Netflix UK, as part of an £8.99 monthly subscription.