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Monster High is a popular doll brand that captured the hearts of millions of kids in the 2010s. The doll brand is a property of Mattel created by Garrett Sanders. The brand became popular for a myriad of reasons, such as its diverse cast of characters, the fashion of the dolls, and the messaging from the freaky monsters to be your authentic self. As a toy brand from that era, the brand had multiple books, webisodes, and several movies. The new movie, Monster High: The Movie, is the second attempt at a reboot of the original story. While the movie isn't awful, it falls short in many departments.
M.O.N.S.T.E.R there's too many monsters in the yard
The movie advertised some lovable characters from the original series, such as the original friend group Clawdeen Wolf, Frankie Stein, and Draculaura. These three are the focal characters of the film, but the film introduces multiple other characters that the audience is supposed to care about, although—because of the sheer number of characters in an hour and a half movie—the side characters just… well, exist.
Most people who had heard of the movie knew about the romance between Deuce Gorgon and Clawdeen in the movie. The thing is, this romance is almost nonexistent. The characters interact with each other only about three times and not for very long. The audience is supposed to see that Clawdeen has a crush on Deuce, which is only known thanks to Frankie’s dialogue. The characters have one romantic scene that feels more like banter between friends than people who have feelings for each other. Deuce doesn't feel like an integral part of the story. Although they did use him as a plot device, his character could have easily been replaced with an actual snake and the other part could have been any other character. He’s there for poorly done romance and drama.
Speaking of drama, Cleo De Nile still acts vile, and she's a better antagonist than the actual antagonist. She's seen with Lagoona Blue, who we can only assume is her friend. Lagoona is advertised along with Cleo, but she's only in the movie for about one scene. She doesn't serve a purpose to the plot. Cleo interacts more with Clawdeen than Clawdeen’s love interest. The main villain has a very small amount of screen time as well, so during the climax of the movie you don’t care. The villain is not fleshed out as a character, so there is no build up to him. When the reveal happens, it feels out of the blue to the point where it just leaves you confused and unsympathetic to his actions.
Though Draculaura is a friend to Clawdeen and Frankie by the end of the movie, she was rude and mean like Cleo until the midway point because…she just is. It just happens, she starts acting nicer, and after she and Clawdeen open up to each other they’re close friends. Clawdeen's dad is also important in this movie, although I forgot he was in the movie until two seconds ago, he is super important. Characters just exist in the movie. Their actions feel separated from each other and leave the viewer wondering: Why did this happen?
What is the plot again?
The movie's summary states that Clawdeen is "a half human and half werewolf, as she finally finds a place where she fits, but, when a devious plan to destroy Monster High threatens to reveal her identity, she must learn to embrace her true monster heart and save the day. " The statement that she, “finally finds a place where she fits” only happens for about five minutes at the end of the movie, as the movie is about Cladeen having an identity crisis, feeling like she has to choose between two worlds. She fits in, but clearly she doesn’t feel like she does as she spends half the movie trying to take drastic measures to fit in. The second half of the synopsis isn’t doing any better. While it is imperative for her to “embrace her true monster heart” this “devious plan” isn’t revealed until about 10 minutes from the end. It's not as though there wasn’t time to flesh out the plot, as nothing happens for the first 25 to 30 minutes of the film, making the action not start until a quarter of the way in. This devious plan was so minimal and rushed that my 13-year-old sister stated, “There was no climax.” With so little development for the conflict, if you looked away for even a second, the credits were rolling.
Freaky isn’t fabulous
The main selling point of Monster High in its heyday was that it was a place where everyone was accepted, with taglines like “Freaky just got Fabulous,” and songs with lyrics like "perfectly imperfect, we do it our way, united not divided " and "We are monsters, we are proud.” It's no surprise the franchise was appealing to kids who were disabled, queer, or a racial minority.
At the end of the movie, it says "Be Yourself, Be Unique, Be a Monster," but the movie didn't feel that way. One character from the original series is Ghoulia Yelps, a zombie who can’t talk (at least not like her peers). It was a welcomed trait of hers as it served as representation of people who are mute. The Monster High Wii game, Monster High: Ghoul Spirit even has a quest where you help Ghoulia because a teacher punished her for having a speech impairment. In the new movie Ghoulia can talk, serving as poor comedic relief and the movie would have been exactly the same without her.
One of the other changes to characters that turned a few heads was the casting for Clawdeen, widely accepted as the main character. Originally, the character was Black, and it threw fans off when a lighter-skinned actress was cast instead. This is more an issue with Hollywood as a whole, but again, the reason kids liked Monster High was because it was a place for people who were underrepresented in the media.
Monster High, is a movie that exists. While the movie is targeted toward a younger audience, that is not an excuse for poor quality products. The movie clumsily handles the themes and characters that make Monster High, Monster High. With a plot that is as insulting as it is inconsistent, the film fails to hold up its source material and itself. In an ironic twist of its own words, Monster High is imperfectly imperfect.
Contact Deja Bradshaw with comments at firstname.lastname@example.org or @the_magicall_llama on Instagram.