Bratz: Livin' It Up Review
They look like bulimic prostitutes with feet of such size as to suggest they're packing more than piercings in their panties but eight-year-old girls do love the Bratz dolls. In fact, they have such affection for them that MGA Corporation, the makers of the Bratz dolls have since spun off yet more dolls, albums, movies and a Sunday morning television show, which, if you don't already, is enough to drive you to church believing that the end is close at hand.
Unlike the recent live-action film, which had something of a positive message about it, the CG animated features are Bratz writ large, in which all their already short attention spans flit between movies, music, fashion and boys. However, where Rock Angelz, Starrin' And Stylin' and Forever Diamondz had a story, Livin' It Up is an interactive DVD and, as such, sacrifices a halfway decent story for the viewer making some very simple choices. Poor old Jade and Sasha don't get much of a look-in as the viewer is presented with what concerns Cloe and Yasmin, being either the judging or the taking part in a talent contest at Stiles High or the writing of the school yearbook.
Happily Byron Powell, Bratz World's equally high-waisted version of The X-Factor's Simon Cowell, is nowhere to be seen. Instead, we're back with the typical Bratz crew of the girls and their lovestruck boys, Cameron and Dylan but it's a dreary half-hour or so that we spend in their company. And badly-produced too. The television show, although looking it was produced for matchsticks and milk-bottle tops, looks like children slaved for years to produce it next to this mess. Four corpses dragged about a stage by their ankles would be a good deal more lifelike than Sasha, Cloe, Jade and Yasmin are here while their lip movements seem to suggest that every word begins with an 'm'. "We're gonna rock your world, Dylan!" becomes, "Me're momma mock moor mould, Millan!" Anyone lip reading this feature would be as confused and possibly disgusted as one finding an eyeball in a pot of jam. However, at least Cloe does now look as though she has hair on her head and not a discarded Pot Noodle.
It doesn't end there, though, as Livin' It Up has a handful of additional interactive features, including Bratz Quiz, a Photoshoot and the ability to pick one of four music videos to play, being Livin' It Up, Me And My Girls, Invincible and When We're All Together. In Three Wishes, Cloe and Yasmin stumble upon a magic lamp and attain all that their hearts desire, which seem not to include boys but does feature much music, movies and fashion. Finally, in Bratzline, three of the girls have been given control of a radio phone-in and, with some small assistance from the viewer, aim to offer advice to two callers each. Eventually, this ends but so too would the sawing off of one's own legs when one runs out of limb to carve off. I'm not one for Bratz - being too hairy, too old and having a penis all conspire to disqualify me from being a fan - but where Rock Angelz at least had a sense of fun with the Tweevils, Burdeen Maxwell and Roxie knocking the Bratz into a punk-shaped rock band, this will struggle to keep even the most sympathetic of girls entertained beyond an hour. And, believe me, I've tried.
If you've ever watched those little online movie previews, which might be of pornographic acts if you so frequent those sites, you will have noticed that what looks fine in a 2x1½" window can look quite shocking when presented fullscreen. Livin' It Up is like that except that on a large television set, it does look as though someone hacked at it with a hammer and chisel before it ever reached the screen. Not that there's very much detail to begin with but what little there is has become lost in a blur of artefacts, softness and jagged lines. It looks terrible. In fact, it could only look worse if it came with a man who popped out of the DVD player and sand papered my eyes while I watched it. If you can find an old Sinclair portable television with a screen the size of an old-style tuppence, watch it on that. It does sound slightly better than it looks, though, with the dialogue and the music, if lacking in bass and treble but offering much middle, both sounding clear and standing out from one another. There is not, however, much else to recommend it by. There are no subtitles.
There are two Commentaries on the disc, both presented in character as either Cloe or Yasmin. What little interactivity there is on Livin' It Up is sacrificed for a quick recap of the two stories with the Bratz girls (or girlz) telling their side of the tale, both of which last five minutes or thereabouts. Finally, there is a set of Credits. Scott Hamilton Kennedy is the man to blame for this.