NEW YORK -- The Bratz universe was humming along as usual this week at the Toys 'R' Us flagship store in Manhattan. Like bees to honey, little girls buzzed about shelves lined with those famous pouty dolls with huge heads, plush lips to put Angelina to shame, and bared, toned midriffs.

There was much to choose from: Bratz Babyz. Bratz Kidz. Fashion Pixiez. Magic Hair. Bratz Spiderman 3. Bratz Shrek. The Bratz RC cruiser. Alarm clocks, CDs, video games. 'I love it!' one girl cried, actually jumping for joy. 'Look at all the makeup!'

These are the Bratz lovers -- young girls who, negative reviews aside, are the target audience for this debut weekend of the new 'Bratz' movie. What they'll see is a more wholesome look to Yasmin, Jade, Sasha and Cloe, the main characters behind the billion-dollar global franchise.

Then there are the Bratz haters, including some (but not all) parents, who say that film or no film, the Bratz doll message is troubling: Friendship may be good, but what's really important is to be chic and, above all, sexy.

Few dolls seem to inspire as much opinion as the Bratz, created in 2001 by Isaac Larian of MGA Entertainment Inc. The blogosphere is littered with references to the dolls as tarts or prostitutes. The American Psychological Association got into the act earlier this year, mentioning Bratz in a broader report on the sexualization of girls: 'It is worrisome when dolls designed specifically for 4- to 8-year-olds are associated with an objectified adult sexuality.'

Some parents, alarmed by the sexy clothing and pouty looks, simply ban the dolls. 'We don't allow them in the house,' says Helene Lewis, of Moorestown, N.J. 'It's the name, the look, the whole feeling about them. There are already enough negative influences out there.'