Why am I reviewing Shopkins: Chef Club? Is there a club like the Bronies for dudes who like Shopkins? Bropkins?
Yo, it's really not like that, bro. However I am fascinated by the concept of the toy line: miniature consumer items with smiley faces, teaching girls, urging them, to shop. The characters are shopping personified. It's very 'meta' if you think about it, which you shouldn't, because it's rather depressing. And now they're branching out into the Animated Advertising world, where the Cups of Noodles and Lipsticks will team up with the human Shoppies to solve someone's problem. Let's see if it's worth it. Full disclosure: I have a ten-year-old daughter.
Chef Club is a ruse cooked up by new Shoppie in town Peppa Mint, who doesn't have any friends and doesn't know how to get them. The other Shoppies, whose names I don't care to know, take Chef Club seriously, one even pins her entire self-worth on getting compliments for her cooking and stuff. Things get so heated, we end up with a figurative bloodbath. If any ten-year-old-girls are reading this, I apologize for the spoilers.
My daughter was both fascinated and repelled by Shopkins: Chef Club. (Nauseating slogan: 'Once you shop, you can't stop.") At forty-four-minutes length, with no extras, it's a sad excuse for a DVD release. On the same level, the relatively small production crew involved seems somehow refreshing, like a close-knit team of spunky go-getters or something, but the level of engagement with the product evinced, (or at least inferred by me) seems to be that of talented people punching a clock. The animation is bright and basic, while humor doesn't extend much beyond the incongruities of a living lipstick using phrases like 'OMG' in conversation.
An example of hyper-branding, (based upon a toy-line of miniature living products ostensibly intended to indoctrinate girls into a life of shopping) Shopkins: Chef Club involves simpering and shrill girl characters obsessed with looks, fashion, and getting compliments. Isn't there something else out there to teach our daughters? The movie is breezy, and nearly-innocuous, but it's also an airless nightmare, with a mildly absurdist sensibility in service to nothing more than a climactic tomato fight that leaves Chef Club looking like a slaughterhouse, and the 'blood'-spattered Shoppies riding a seemingly gore-clotted wave through town: The good-old Strawberry Shortcake meets Stephen King finale. Don't subject your kids to this. Skip It.