Bratz: The Movie is Directed by Sean McNamara, the film follows the fortunes of ‘best friends forever’ trio Yasmin (Nathalia Ramos), Jade (Janel Parrish), Sasha (Logan Browning) and Cloe (Sklyer Shaye) as they enter Carry Nation High for their freshman year.
Confronted by a system of social cliques that have been strictly enforced by senior Meredith Baxter Dimly (Chelsea Staub), the girls find themselves drifting away from each other until – two years later – a food fight brings them back together to try and change things for the better.
From painstaking start to sickly sweet finish, Bratz offers a sugar-coated girl-power overload that’s enough to leave you craving savoury products for the better part of a week.
Although targeted at seven to 12-year-olds, the film almost consistently comes up short thanks to the commercialism inherent in the girls’ “passion for fashion” motto and the stupidity of many of its plotlines.
As a result, the cast is left to flounder with Ian Nelson’s deaf Dylan particularly short-changed in the credibility department.
The girls themselves are so rooted in stereotype that no one really manages to make their mark, save for Staub’s bitchy Meredith who at least seems to be having a ball.
But the four main Bratz simply go through the motions thanks to a script that requires them to shriek lots, bicker a little and console each other whenever the situation commands. The less said about Jon Voight’s cameo the better.
The film as a whole should only appeal to the masochistic among you, who might take some pleasure in seeing just how painful things become.
BRATZ: The Movie stars Skyler Shaye, Nathalia Ramos, Logan Browning and Janel Parrish talk about the challenges of bringing the world’s most popular doll figures to real life, conquering any nerves and working with movie legend Jon Voight.
Q. For many of you Bratz was your first film role. What was the first day like?
Logan Browning: The funny thing was that the first day on set was the scene where it suddenly leapt to two years later. That was kind of weird. I was nervous.
Nathalia Ramos: We were really excited because we’d actually been working together for almost two months before that. We went to boot camp for dancing choreography and meeting the director. So, we’d already become really close.
Janel Parrish: But it was also kind of overwhelming because we didn’t expect it to be such a big film. And then when you see all the honey wagons and the equipment trucks, the whole crew and all the monitors you’re just like: “Oh my gosh!”
Nathalia Ramos: We were just so excited to have chairs with our names on them!
Q. How physically demanding was the boot camp?
Nathalia Ramos: It was every day for hours and we had this amazing choreographer. But for me – and for all of us – the most fun is seeing it when it all comes together and you see how it looks.
Logan Browning: Our choreographer actually worked on the video for Gwen Stefani’s Hollaback Girl [Kishaya Dudley]. She was cool.
Q. One of the main messages behind the film is the importance of friendship. What are the qualities you look for in a friend?
Janel Parrish: I look for really loyal friends. Friends with whom you can talk about anything and they won’t judge you. They won’t stab you in the back and someone you can always go to for anything, even if it’s 2am and I’m upset. Loyalty is very important to me.
Q. How similar are you to your characters in real life?
Skyler Shaye: I’m nothing like mine. I look back and watch my performance sometimes and I’m like: “How did I come up with that expression on my face?” Cloe is not a very controlled personality. But I’m very athletic, so we have that in common, and my mother is my best friend. She’s very close to her mother.
Nathalia Ramos: I’m so like Yasmin. We both come from culturally diverse families. We both speak fluent Spanish. My Spanish Jewish grandmother was really funny because she’s the perfect combination of both of my grandmothers in one! So that was really cool.
Q. How was working with Jon Voight?
Skyler Shaye: For myself, Jon has always given me advice throughout my whole life. He’s more than a godfather to me. He’s been like a father to me. He also directed me when I was a little girl for his directorial debut [The Tin Soldier]. He’s different when we work together on the set, obviously, because we’re actors. I often find myself asking: “Are you my godfather?” He’s really professional – before he even gets on set, when you go to his house five weeks before production he’s in character. He’s very inspiring, very funny and he loves improv. It’s an honour to be able to work with my godfather.
Janel Parrish: I was actually really nervous. But when I finally got to meet him he was so nice and so funny. He was just a really fun guy. I get so starstruck. I remember recently we were shopping and Logan said: “Oh look, there’s Mandy Moore behind you!” I freaked out. So, I thought I was going to be so nervous meeting Jon Voight but he was so nice, so it was cool.
Q. The movie also explores the notion of role models. Who are your icons?
Skyler Shaye: My family. But if you’re talking about people in the public eye, I looked up to Kate Winslet after seeing Titanic.
Janel Parrish: I don’t know if anyone will know her but I grew up listening to Broadway musicals and Lea Salonga was always my idol because she was the original Kim in Miss Saigon. People might know her as the voice of Jasmine in Aladdin anda singing voice in Mulan. I actually got to work with her once and that was a great honour.
Logan Browning: My family have always been the ones I look up to. But professionally, people like S Club 7 and The Spice Girls. I loved what they did.
Nathalia Ramos: I also wanted to be just like The Spice Girls when I was younger. Both of my parents are in the music business – my dad on the artist side and my mum on the business side, so professionally I look up to both of them. They’ve always taught me so much and I admire them for that. They’re also my role models personally – not just in business. But in terms of actresses, then it would have to be Cate Blanchett.
Q. Given the role of the dog in the movie, do you have a favourite animal or a dream pet?
Logan Browning: I love dogs. As for dream pets, I’d love to have a small cat [pauses and laughs]. What I mean by that is a wildcat!
Skyler Shaye: I love dogs. I have a little peekachoo at home. I also love horses. At one point, I had seven dogs. Eventually we had to give one to our friends.
Janel Parrish: I love dogs. I have a golden retriever but if I could have my way I’d have every single species of dog in my house. My dad said “no”. But my dream animal to own would be a little koala bear.
Nathalia Ramos: I love pigs. I like little fat, ugly animals! And my absolute dream pet would be an English bulldog. But I do like little pigs, especially warthogs – you know Pumbaa in The Lion King?