Bratz Kidz: Sleep-Over Adventure

STUDIO: Lionsgate

MSRP: $19.98
RUNNING TIME: 72 Minutes
• Bedtime Story Shortcuts
Music Video
Slumber Party Fun!
Best Friends Q&A
Slumber Party Scavenger Hunt
Sing Alongs

The Pitch

The Bratz pack, this time back as precocious kidz, meet The Simpsons’ Treehouse Of Horror.

The Humans

The Director: Mucci Fassett
The Actors (Sure, why not?*): Britt McKillip, Nicole Munoz, Dorla Bell, Bridgitte Taylor, Jianna Ballard, Cherilynn Fulbright
The Writer: Robert Schlueter

The Bratz (L to R): Yasmin, Meygan, Jade, Sasha, Chloe, Ginger. Yes, this is the best shot to tell them apart.

The Nutshell

When those pint-sized future Stepford wives get together for a slumber party, scary stories are a given. But who knows what kind of exciting, supernatural hijinx will ensue, IRL? Your kids will be singing and dancing their way to what is (very) loosely, a horror anthology made safe for girls, ages 4-8. (Don’t check my math here; I don’t know shit about what 6 year-old girls like.) The stories attempt to be more fun than scary, occasionally getting eerie, but always keeping it within the boundaries of what you’d expect from the Bratz label.

The Lowdown

Not only do I not have a faint clue as to what young girls these days find totally awesome (and should I, really?), I have no prior experience with Bratz other than seeing their alien faces plastered all over the place. And after watching Bratz Kidz: Sleep-Over Adventure, it’s safe to say the creepiest things about this feature length film –besides Bratz’s place in our pop culture– are those eerie opalescent eyes, so large and inky that they consume these characters’ souls.

Ahem, anyway….

Let’s play Caption Super Choice Happy Fun Game: a) "We are gonna be sooo cool in a few years!" or b) We are through the product placement looking glass, people.

This time, they have a new friend, a shy redhead named Ginger, who invites the girls to a sleep-over at her house (and for scary stories.) The picture wisely starts off with the only vignette that is worth a damn, a tale of a magic mirror that traps vain little girls (in this case, Sasha**) and frees their evil doppelgangers. I’m making it sound better than it actually is, but of the 6 "bedtime stories," it’s the one most likely to genuinely freak out any younger kids. Not an absolutely terrible thing. Sure, the evil doppelganger doesn’t actually cause much mischief, but at least it ends on a harsh note.

The rest of the bedtime stories don’t play anywhere near that level of existential angst, instead opting for more tales of the weird. Chloe (the blonde) has to deal with a troublesome talking dog that loves buying expensive stuff on the phone, but would be so much easier to deal with if she, I dunno, just used the fucking muzzle that came with the dog.

Yeah, your filler meter will be going off the charts throughout this video too.

The next story has Meygan (freckles) getting a wish she didn’t bargain for, when her (hot, kinda bitchy) older sister, along with everyone else, vanish without a trace. Even though having everyone around you disappear would suck in real life, I can’t blame Megan for hating on her obliviously self-absorbed sister at least a bit. Rhetorical question; how would you feel if you were being carted around like a show sibling? In another morality tale, Yasmin (Bratz’z token Latina) must deal with a charm bracelet… that would not… leave… her side… and… that’s it! Lo and behold, it turns out that the persistent bracelet is just a metaphor for the guilt she feels over giving a shitty gift to her friend. For all of its plodding predictability, I’d consider it a lesson well learned for anyone who has thought about herself over a friend.

EEWWW! They totally ripped off Heroes!

By this point in the picture, if you’re hoping the end would arrive soon, congratulations, you’ve outgrown Bratz. (2 more left!)

In a story that starts off as if there is a droplet of potential, Jade has to deal with the unattractive and gross when a carnival ride turns her friends into ugly monsters. But these monsters don’t do anything scary like eat girls or claw at their flesh. They just chase after her for what seems like an eternity, and eventually corner her so they can dance to a Britney-esque pop tune. Why is she so afraid of them? No good reason, they seem nice and like to dance.

Ginger’s tale ties everything together at the end by revealing her to be… Who am I kidding? Ginger’s tale sucks. If only I was invested in these characters. At all. But they act and look so much alike, the only way to tell them apart is by their hair color. Besides Ginger, the shrinking violet, who isn’t even a real Brat anyways. Not that her story amounts to anything worth describing, because it most definitely does not. The positive side is that it must be some sort of statement of equality that every character here is at least a token something. Still, the shallow-as-hell Bratz pack make the Spice Girls look like performance artists.

Clowns are usually scary. Here they are just shiftless.

It’s painfully obvious most of these "bedtime stories" are fragments recycled from earlier, much better fiction/TV/film/whathaveyou. So it’s also unfortunate that all these tales-on-loan are also lifelessly animated. CGI character animation is all about putting the human life back into all of those cold 1s and 0s. In Bratz Kidz: Sleep-Over Adventure, the animation is as primitive as the characters. Except for the hair. That seems to be the one place where the animators spent all of their time. Most everything else has the strange sheen of early CGI, which makes for an oddly antiseptic world. But beyond the picture’s style, there are too many instances when the director abuses the old animation trick of reusing shots. I’m totally willing to cut the filmmakers some slack on this front, but it’s distracting and irksome here. (They even keep reusing ideas, which is far less forgivable.) I get that CGI is expensive, but there has to be more creative ways to hide your limitations and accentuate the positive.

In the end though, a child (preferably young and likely a girl) will find this video a lot more exciting than I did. I am pretty damn far away from the intended audience. Kids will be discovering these kinds of stories for the first time. They’ll sing along to the pop songs, get scared at the right spots and laugh at the right spots (but preferably at the wrong spots.) It’s meant only for them, and that’s because kids stupidly often enjoy the new in favor of the good. And it would be perfectly fine too, unless they don’t grow out of it. Hopefully any kids you know/have will. Soon. Then one day, there will be Bratz nostalgia and people to love it without irony. The kids of that day will fix their attention on some other shiny new bauble instead. Then the Bratz fanz and us Bratz haters can all hate on this new, stupid thing together.

* The only place the voice actors are listed is in the end credits, which seems odd to me.

** Aka: Token black girl, Scary Spice

What is that guy from Phantasm doing in this movie?

The Package

Lots of extras here, folks. Special note goes to the trailers before the feature. Normally I wouldn’t even bring them up, but since each one offers a glance into one bizarre facet of the Bratz Empire, it’s like watching different models of Terminators wreak havoc on the good things in your life. Masochistic, but informative. Same goes for the insert, which also contains a handy sleep-over guide and not just more wares to sell. The music video and karaoke sing-alongs are material from the feature re-cut to fill -err- fit with the music. While the video is about 2 minutes long, the karaoke songs are all less than a minute long, which seems too short. Although, I suppose if the alternative is more filler, then this is a merciful thing, right? (The answer is NO.) The Q&A game and scavenger hunt are social games, designed to encourage interaction. Surely the junior Bratz fan in your family will get plenty of enjoyment from this disc. For your sake, I hope it just won’t be too much enjoyment.

3.6 out of 10