Bratz: Starrin’ & Stylin’ (Allegedly), Part 1

bratz-starrin-and--stylin-movie-poster-2004-1020280857Bratz: Starrin’ & Stylin’ is the first movie in the Bratz companion series to the popular fashion dolls. The movie center around the four main dolls, Cloe, Jade, Yasmin, and Sasha. The girls live in a town called Stylesville and attend Styles High. Their friendship revolves around a mutual “passion for fashion”, which they never fucking shut up about. This movie was the only regular Bratz movie to be animated. After this the poor animation changed over to poor CGI.

The first thing that you notice about the girls while the credit play and they try on clothes and model their little 2-dimensional hearts out, is that they have no noses. This, in conjunction with their inhumanly almond-shaped eyes and monstrous lips, makes them all look a little like aliens. The girls, no matter where they are or what they’re doing, are always slathered in makeup. Even at the spa where some of the characters are getting facials, you can clearly see eyeshadow and they undoubtedly have mascara on as well. Because you have to wear makeup to be pretty.

The four main characters are essentially clones of each other. Without coloring you wouldn’t be able to tell them apart. They are all supposed to be ethnically different, but none of that reflects in their outward appearance. Annoyingly, the four girls also go by nicknames. So when learning the names for these characters you really have to learn 8, not 4.

But anyway, Cloe, the blonde, has the nickname of Angel. Because she’s so sweet and angelic. Whatever. Sasha, who is supposed to be African-American but is just as light-skinned as Yasmin in the movie, goes by Bunny Boo. Yasmin, a latina, is known as Pretty Princess. Which, let me assure you, must have taken ages for the middle-aged men who write these movies to come up with. Jade, who is of Asian descent, goes by Kool Kat. Because she’s cool and she loves cats! Ingenious!

But if you think that their nicknames are uninspired, just wait. The movie, which came out in 2004, manages to be just as boring, content-wise as the My Scene movie. However, I’d actually rate it as slightly worse based on the painfully silly dialogue, the inane scenarios, and the insistence that everyone say the words “model,” “fashion,” or “runway” every goddamn scene. But enough talking, let’s get this party started.

The movie starts out with Cloe in her new dingy yellow convertible, driving to pick up Yasmin. Yasmin is thrilled to see Cloe’s new car and the blonde girl informs her, “it may be old, but it’s bold!” As if that’s an actual phrase that people say. The two then head off to pick up Jade, who is also happy to no longer be riding the bus now that Cloe has a car. Then finally Sasha, who shared all of their joy. As they arrive at school, one of the girls mentioned that the prom is that weekend. Major plot point alert!

Cut to a scene in Mr. Del Rio’s class where the teacher is talking about self-expression. In later movies, Mr. Del Rio is supposed to be a chemistry teacher. It’s been a fairly long time since I’ve taken a chemistry class, but I’m pretty sure that self-expression wasn’t a part of the material being covered. Anyway, he assigns the class to find an artistic medium and use it to express themselves.

This assignment is laughable, not only because it sounds like he’s just making shit up as he goes along, but because teachers these days, and even back in 2004, were teaching to the Standards of Learning (SOLs). This would never be a real assignment, because there is no section on self-expression on any of the tests. High school in general never suggests or encourages self-expression. Even art classes are usually so carefully structured that there is no letting loose and finding your own method of expression.goodman03_bratz-schooldesk

But moving on, Mr. Del Rio informs his students that, “The project should tell me who you are and what it’s really like to be you.” Can you imagine, as an adult, reading, viewing, listening, etc, to projects about what it’s like to be a teenager? If you want a hint, just consider that after hearing the assignment Cloe declares, “I express myself daily with my passion for fashion!” And the rest of her classmates applaud her.

The bell rings and as the other students are leaving, the girls ask Mr. Del Rio if they can work in a group. He agrees that they can as long as everyone is equally represented. After most of the students have filed out of class, he adds that the project is due the first day back at school after prom and it’s worth a fourth of their grade. There are many holes in this that I simply can’t suspend my disbelief and let it slide.

First of all, most of the other students are gone, so a lot of them didn’t even hear the due date. What kind of teacher gives such a massive assignment, with such vague guidelines, and doesn’t even tell the students when it’s due? What kind of teacher gives students a project that is 1/4 of their entire grade and tells them about it less than a week before it’s due without handing out any rules? Also, what kind of class is this where such a huge chunk of the final grade revolves around a self-expression project? Are they in a self-esteem class? Some weird kind of stress management class that went way off the rails a few weeks previously? And no matter what class it is, how did Mr. Del Rio start teaching chemistry only a few movies later?

Not to be bothered by any of that stuff we like to call logic, the Bratz girls ask Mr. Del Rio for an extension since it’s prom that weekend and they declare that Prom is their top priority. He refuses with a smile and the girls, as well as the rest of the class, groan. Now they have to figure out how to do the assignment and spend hours upon hours preparing and agonizing over the prom.

There’s a cut scene that consists of one of the girls modeling and it shows a few photographs of her. Because that’s what girls do. They model and wear clothes and shit. Passion for fashion! Blah, blah, blah, that about sums up this entire silly series.

Anyway, cut to the hall and the girls are trying to figure out how they can possibly manage to fit their prom preparations and this massive project into such a short time frame. The guys, Cameron and Dylan, tell them not to worry and assure them that they’ll fit the project in with no problem. The girls brainstorm and decide to make the project about prom so that they can do their prep and do the project at the same time.

Sasha, who is the leader of the prom committee, likes this idea and Yasmin suggests that they make a video of their exploits. Dylan suggests that they go see Koby, an AV guy who can hook them up with one of the school’s cameras to use. Cut to the AV room!

The girls, Dylan, and Koby enter the AV room just as the bell rings. Dylan starts to head out and tells his friends, “I hate to leave my girls, but we got to jet.” The Bratz are furious that he dared to call them “his” girls. They proudly tell him that they aren’t “his” anything. With all of the feminist passion that someone who doesn’t know the correct definition of feminism can muster, Jade informs him, “We’re nobody’s girls!”

Why the girls were so insistent that Dylan doesn’t refer to them in a possessive way is not exactly clear. Are they trying to state that they are not someone’s property, let alone a man’s? Are they trying to assert their independence? Are they offended that one of their peers is using language to inform other males that the pack of girls is in fact his harem and he has exclusive mating rights with them? Who the fuck knows? The message communicated is that you should get angry when a guy refers to you as his because…. stuff. The girls refer to their gaggle of friends as “my girls” and no one bats an eyebrow. So yeah. WTF, Bratz?

But Koby manages to find a camera and tells the girls it’s just a simple point and shoot, so something that their tiny brains can handle. He then tells them a little about some of the documentaries he’s done around the school. One is about recycling, one is about Glee Club. Yes, they sound ultra lame and the Bratz have a giggle at his expense and cut him off when he tries to talk about them. Because he only helped them get their camera and there’s nothing like being polite.

The next scene starts up with the girls at lunch. Yasmin has a copy of the student newspaper Daily Doings. She mentions that there’s a new anonymous gossip column. One of the girls reads a few blurbs from it and finds that it talks about the after school tennis club and that the senior parking lot is going to be expanded and generally uneventful things. The girls decide that it’s boring and mockingly call it “Daily Dozings”. Sasha throws the paper away.

hqdefault (1)Not to be bored for too long, Jade picks up the camera and suggests that they start filming. The girls quickly decide that going out to the football field would be best as the natural light will make their skin look amazing. The scene picks up outside with football practice going on in the background. Meanwhile, Cloe is front and center. I will now relate her video portion, in full. This is what she has to say about who she is and what it’s like to be her:

Cloe: Hi, I’m Cloe. But you can call me Angel. That’s what I am. Uh… What else should I say’?

Jade: (Off camera.) And dreams? Future plans? You know, cool secrets that tell all about the real you.

Cloe: Well, I’m all about expressing myself through my own personal style, a very flashy attitude and most importantly, fashion. I love to paint and draw. I love to shop at the mall with my friends. I love school, though we do get way to much homework.

What else? Oh yeah! I think there should be a bottled water machine in the cafeteria. And more mirrors in the girl’s room. Who knows? Maybe next year I’ll run for student body president. I’ll make that part of my platform. But I can’t focus on that now. Cause this is very important week. Prom is on Saturday. I’ve got a lot of work ahead if I want to do it in style.

That is who she is and what it’s like to be her. That’s it. This is how she has defined herself. This is all she has to say for herself. Why is this it? How could any grown person have crafted a character that girls are supposed to identify with and idolize that is so shallow and pointless? Why didn’t these little girls get something better than her aspirations for a bottled water machine in the cafeteria?

Back in the movie, Cloe takes the camera and walks into the gym where Sasha and the Prom Committee are working hard to set up for the dance. I find it a little strange that this school can’t afford to have their prom at a hotel ballroom or something of that nature. Even my ratchet high school had an off-site prom. That’s what I heard anyway.

Regardless, Cloe decides that this hugely busy time is a great moment for Sasha to perform her bit of self expression for the camera. Sasha immediately complies.

Sasha: Alright. How do I start?

Cloe: Do whatever you want. This is your moment.

Sasha: Okay. Well, I’m Sasha, but my friends call me Bunny Boo. And I love the hip hop thang. (Dances awkwardly, then poses.) But don’t get me wrong, I dig all types of music. And I’m into kicking with my butt [note: I have no idea what the fuck that means. I even turned on the subtitles and that is exactly what she says.] which is why I volunteered to be the chairperson on this year’s Prom Committee. (To another teenager who is holding balloons.) Megan, tie those to the Prom King’s throne.

The prom theme I chose was “Formal Funk”. Which you can see, I’ve got my team doing a bang up job ever setting up things for a kicking DJ we hired. Nevera’s organizing the refreshment table and we ordered mad food. That’s Dana decorating the backdrop. We’ve got a professional fashion photographer, who’s going to come and take everyone’s picture. This prom’s going to be off the hook! Let’s hit it guys.  (To Dana.) Hey, don’t just throw those flowers around. They’ve got to be arranged!

So there’s Sasha. I don’t even understand most of her section. She’s into kicking with her butt? She loves the hip hop thang? Formal funk? This is her? This is her personality? I know that the project was supposed to be about the prom too, but Sasha’s section says very little about her and more about the dance. As for what it says about her that she would choose a prom theme called “formal funk”, I don’t even want to hold that against her.

But not even phased, Sasha finishes up her prom planning and heads to the school’s computer lab where she finds Yasmin sending a message to someone. She says that she’s ready to film and her little section begins.

Sasha: Action, Pretty Princess.

Yasmin: Pretty Princess is my nickname. My real name’s Yasmin. I recently moved here and I was really nervous about fitting in. But I feel like the luckiest girl in the world to meet the best friends ever. I love hanging out with Sasha, Cloe and Jade. We have the coolest birthday parties together, go on ski trips… Come to think of it, we do just about everything together! I love to read. Especially mystery novels.

Sasha: And you love to write.

Yasmin: (Something prints out on the printer.) Oh!

And that’s it, really. Sasha asks Yasmin what she’s printing and Yasmin claims that it’s an assignment for English. She runs off soon after Sasha points out that there’s no assignment due for English at all. But Yasmin’s self-expression section expresses exactly what about her? She loves her friends? She likes birthday parties? As for the reading thing, I have seen over 10 more of these Bratz movies and the most I’ve seen Yasmin read is a magazine. If she loves to read so much then why doesn’t she have any screen time doing so?

The next scene takes place at a local beach. Jade is trying to get a general establishing shot and the girls are quick to draw her focus back to them, stating that they’re the stars of the movie. Way to turn a self-expression project into an outlet for your ever expanding teenage narcissism.

Then this exchange happens:

Jade: You ruined my shot!
Sasha: Sorry Kool Kat, but Angel won’t quit frontin’
Yasmin: You don’t have to prove it to groove it.
Cloe: If you’ve got it, flaunt it.

What does this mean? What are they trying to say? What is happening with this dialogue? How could anything this poorly written have gone from paper to voice acting to the final cut and no one pointed out that plainly obvious fact that it’s absolutely terrible?! Did no one notice or does no one really care since this movie is just an attempt to sell toys to little girls?hqdefault (2)

Moving on, the girls chat about prom and worry about not being able to find dresses in time. Cloe has a sketch of a dress that she wants. Although, she doesn’t list sewing as one of her talents, so it seems difficult to see how having a sketch is really all that helpful. Anyway, Jade finds a dress in a magazine that she likes and shows it to the other girls. The outfit is two pieces, a frilly skirt and midriff top. The look is completed with stripped arm bands and thigh-high tights along with a boa and a large, decorative headpiece.

The other girls turn their noses up at the ensemble and Jade looks a little taken aback. But then the guys show up. The teenagers chat briefly and attempt to have a coherent back and forth, but don’t quite make it. Dylan claims that he is working on getting some cool “wheels” for the prom. The girls all mock him with Cloe asking if he’s referring to the training wheels that he just took off of his bike. The guys, unphased by the ribbing, hang out and the girls go back to their relaxing day at the beach.

Sasha demands that no one else talk about the prom and declares the event, “–Only the most stressful assignment I’ve taken on.” Which might be true seeing as the rest of the lifestyle seems to involve shopping and painting their nails. Jade offers Sasha some cold cucumber slices to put over her eyes. This seems to be a staple of these kids movies. The My Scene girls loved them and now the Bratz. Anyway, the boys leave the girls to their sunbathing and Sasha’s, “No-stress eyeball salad,” as she describes it.

The next scene is of the Bratz girls driving back from the beach. Yasmin says that they should film for a while because the, “Sunset will make our tans glow.” Whatever. Yasmin films Cloe, the driver, talking about her wind-blown hair while she looks away from the road for entirely too long. Suddenly, a skunk ventures out onto the road, Cloe sees it at the last minute and swerves. She avoids hitting the skunk and drives off of the road, crashing her car into a rather large tree.

None of the girls are hurt. Not even bumps and bruises. Cloe’s hair is a little muzzed and that seems to be the extent of the damage to the passengers. Also, the airbag didn’t go off, which is a little worrisome. When Cloe gets out to inspect the damage, the entire front end of the car is crushed. Such an impact should have set off every airbag in the vehicle.

But the girls quickly bounce back while Yasmin, Jade and Sasha start picking up the lotion, makeup and other random shit that was supposedly thrown from the car during the crash. They find the camera and are relieved to discover that it hasn’t been broken. But the girls look around and realize that they are in the woods and due to the howling they hear in the background, there are wild animals around. But do the girls call their parents?

Who are you kidding? Of course they don’t! While they claim to have parents, just like the My Scene girls, you never see them, hear them or have any solid proof that they exist. And why not? Why can’t these girls have parents? Why can’t these girls need parents? What message is being sent to young girls watching these movies when they see their heroines dealing with all problems, big, small and in between, without once calling your parents?

Okay, so not running to your parents for every tiny thing is showing independence. But these girls have just been in a major car accident. When you wrap your car around a tree, it’s time to give mom and dad a call and let them know what happened. Besides, Cloe made it clear in the beginning of the movie that she had to save for years and years to get the car itself, there’s undoubtedly no money left for such serious repairs. If her parents don’t help her out, then how is she going to fix the car?

But the girls decide to call Cameron. He apparently is the school’s resident grease monkey, so he can fix the totaled car. While Sasha calls Dylan, the skunk reappears. The girls had a brief discussion about what it was. Apparently in the split second that I saw the skunk I was able to correctly identify it, in the time that they saw the skunk, Cloe thought it was a chihuahua for some reason. As if those two animals look anything like each other. Regardless, Jade sees the skunk and somehow thinks that it’s a cat. Being the cat lover that she is, she picks the skunk up, puts it in the car and baby talks it, asking if it wants to come home with her.

hqdefault (5)When Jade picks it up again Cloe sees the skunk’s tail and realizes that that’s not an adorable kitty after all. She calmly informs Jade that the animal she’s cuddling isn’t a cat. As soon as Jade realizes that she’s holding a skunk the animal sprays with no provocation. The skunk then jumps to the other two girls and sprays them as well.

Now granted, I have lived in the country and have had some run ins with skunks. But skunk smell is distinctive, horrible and does not go away easily. When Sasha returns to the other girls she informs them that Cameron is on his way and that they all smell like Dylan’s new body spray. While teenage boy body sprays might leave some to be desired, I highly doubt that their aroma is even within the same realm as skunk. Seriously. It’s not a pleasant smell. Also, I would fully disclose to the person who is coming to pick me up that he will need tarps and to go ahead and roll his car windows down before piling into an enclosed space with him.

When our dog, Waffles, got sprayed by a skunk, we bathed her in commercial skunk remover multiple times and she still smelled awful for weeks. Poor Waffles wanted to come snuggle with everyone and the scent was so horrendous that no one could stand to be near her for that long. Getting sprayed by a skunk is nothing short of traumatic. Certainly not something comedic that happens and is immediately forgotten about. But this is a Bratz movie, so who are we kidding?

While they wait for Cameron to show up, the camera goes back on and someone starts filming Sasha. Sasha is grumpy about the entire turn of events that afternoon and Jade points out that their luck turned bad once they had the accident. Cloe then starts crying and feeling guilty about getting into a wreck. Jade tries to calm her down and thankfully the guys arrive. Of course, they mention the skunk smell but can’t identify it. Cameron mentions that Cloe’s hair is slightly out of place and Cloe immediately checks it in one of the car’s side mirrors and demands that the filming stops. She says that she doesn’t want her “public” to see her like that.

Before the scene ends, Cameron informs the girls that he can definitely fix the car before prom. Which, let’s keep in mind, is that Saturday. So less than a week and he is going to repair front-end damage that probably should have left the car completely totaled. Nice.

I’m going to end this section here. But don’t worry. There is plenty more insanity and alien-faced children in part 2. Let’s see if the girls manage to make the prom and get Cloe’s car fixed. And just for funsies, let’s see if any part of this ridiculous movie starts making any fucking sense.

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