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A Lot or a Little?
What you will—and won't—find in this movie.
It's for entertainment purposes only, although kids may learn the importance of helping a friend in need.
Despite their reputation for being superficial, skimpily dressed dolls, the Bratz friends do come together to help their friend Katia, who, in turn, is willing to make sacrifices to save her father. Friendship and family are the major themes of the movie.
Positive Role Models
It's hard to say that the Bratz dolls are positive role models, because none of the dangerous parts of their trip would have occurred had they just listened to Katia's father, but the four remaining friends band together to try and rescue Katia. And Katia herself stands up to her captor and helps the young woman who's had to get by as a thief. Katia's father also sets off to save his daughter.
Violence & Scariness
Katia is kidnapped by a nefarious professor, and her friends are stranded in a cave until they figure out how to escape. Kids may be initially scared of the hideous hag with the warts and crooked teeth, but she's actually helpful. There's definite peril in a few scenes, especially when it seems like a beloved camel has fallen over a cliff or that a father is trapped as a genie forever. Since Katia is kidnapped for the majority of the film, the sequences featuring her and her captor are especially tense.
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Sex, Romance & Nudity
One of the girls makes an off-hand remark that they'll be "forced to join a harem" if they cant get out of harm's way. There's a super creepy vibe between Professor and Katia, whom he repeatedly calls "pure one" (which we assume means "pure of heart," but the way he leers at her evokes a different connotation that parents will pick up on). The girls do wear tight-fitting styles, lots of make-up, and midriff-baring genie outfits in a fashion show (where they sashay down the aisle). On the bright side, there aren't any guys their age for them to flirt with, so this is a tamer movie than some of the others in the Bratz franchise.
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A few insults like "crazy old woman," "little thief," "liar," etc.
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Products & Purchases
Like any movie based on a popular toy line, the DVD is a powerful avenue to market the Bratz dolls to young girls. There are special Genie editions of all the dolls, as well as a dedicated website with bios and photos of all the available Bratz products.
Parents Need to Know
Parents need to know that the Bratz dolls are particularly controversial for being overly sexualized and superficial, but in Desert Jewelz, they're less fashion- and looks-obsessed than in the franchise's other direct-to-DVD movies. There's considerable peril, especially when one character is kidnapped by a creepy professor and in a frightening scene when it seems like a beloved camel has fallen to its death. The language is tame except for a few mild insults and the innuendo implied in the professor's treatment of his captives. Some parents won't appreciate that the girls wear midriff-baring belly dancer costumes in a fashion show, and those who pay attention to the accents may find them caricatures of cultural stereotypes. To stay in the loop on more movies like this, you can sign up for weekly Family Movie Night emails.
Is It Any Good?
None of the Bratz movies are really good, but this one at the very least has a slightly imaginative plot that doesn't involve the girls flirting with boys or obsessing about their hair and make-up. The girls embark on an adventure for the sake of saving their friend, and their ability to stay optimistic and intrepid in the face of rather frightening circumstances is commendable. There's some innuendo (the professor is quite creepy and menacing when he interacts with Katia) that's a bit off-putting, but most of the movie is about the four girls as they try to track down their kidnapped friend.
The animation is amateurish and dull, and at times the girls look so identical that it's hard to tell them apart, even though they have different hair and eye colors. While the girls have appropriately young-sounding voices, Katia's father and the thief Alla have distracting, over-the-top accents. Katia's dad sounds like Apu from The Simpsons, when he's clearly supposed to be from the Middle East. Second- and third-grade girls may find the movie delightful despite all its shortcomings, but parents who want more substantive choices should probably find a title that isn't a 74-minute commercial.
Did we miss something on diversity?
Research shows a connection between kids' healthy self-esteem and positive portrayals in media. That's why we've added a new "Diverse Representations" section to our reviews that will be rolling out on an ongoing basis. You can help us help kids by suggesting a diversity update.