Correction to This Article
An Aug. 2 Style article misidentified the manufacturer of Bratz dolls. It is MGA Entertainment, not Mattel.
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'Bratz,' the Living Dolls

Janel Parrish is Jade, the Asian American Brat, a science and math whiz with high-pressure parents and a side interest in clothing design.

Logan Browning is Sasha, an African American cheerleader with divorced upper-income parents who constantly spat.

And Nathalia is Yasmin, a Latina who is too shy to pursue her dream of becoming a singer.

What appealed to producer Avi Arad -- who has taken a successful career in toys and comic-book heroes and translated it into film success -- is the diversity of the four original Bratz (there are now several others) and the potential that had for story lines.

"Having been through the private schools and the cliques and the damaging experience of being in high school in the first place," Arad says, referring to his experiences watching two daughters grow up, "I felt it is such fertile ground to have girls from diverse ethnic groups, different social backgrounds, different economic backgrounds."

The result is a film about four best friends who start high school and drift apart due to their individual interests. When confronted with the wrath of the school's reigning "mean girl" -- the student body president -- they reunite to break down the classic high school cliques. It's the kind of uplifting message Arad and the other filmmakers were looking to project.

But in order to get there, they first had to solve the problem of clothes.

* * *

Little girls love them. Witness the 5-year-old who races through the entrance hall of the movie theater at a screening and jumps into the arms of Logan, clearly ecstatic to meet "Sasha." Some parents, on the other hand, have been wary of the concept.

Ever since the 10-inch dolls were introduced in 2001, there have been mothers and fathers who ban their presence, mainly in reaction to the attire, which tends toward bare midriffs and halter tops, platform shoes and cleavage-cut gowns. It's supposed to be urban chic, but given the age group the dolls appeal to --mainly the under-8 set -- it horrifies some adults. Add to that the dolls' oversize heads with the huge almond-shaped eyes and big, shiny, pouty lips and there is an air of, well . . . let's let Nathalia say it:

"I didn't know anything about the dolls at all," she says over breakfast. "Then people, like my friends, heard I was going to be in the movie and they said, 'Oh, so you're going to be a slut doll?' "

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