If anyone thinks that Barbie movies have always been cheap marketing tools with stories that only appeal to little girls, this moving movie musical will change your mind.
(Based on Mark Twain’s The Prince and the Pauper)
Princess Anneliese (Kelly Sheridan) and indentured servant Erika (also Kelly Sheridan), two girls who are miraculously identical, switch positions in a twist of fate that requires perseverance, intelligence, and love to save their kingdom.
- Destiny is written in your heart – This theme is a line in a song and quoted by Barbie at the end of the credits. What this means is that destiny is unpredictable and what you’ll become can only be found by looking inside yourself. The story illustrates this through the journeys of both girls. As the story develops for Anneliese, it shows that although she starts out bound by her royal position to follow someone else’s agenda, whoever that might be, her intelligence helps her to fight through a crisis and find a way to live a life that fulfills both her royal duty and her duty to herself. For Erika, it shows that although she is held to paying a debt inherited from her parents, her rebellious yet honorable nature keeps her working harder and harder to be free.
- Duty means doing the things your heart may well regret – This is also a line in a song. It means that following your duty is doing the honorable thing even when what you want is different. This shows for Anneliese in how she is willing to marry King Dominick, a man she has never even met, even though she is in love with someone else, because she puts the needs of her people above her own needs. For Erika, it is shown in how she continues to work for Madame Carp to honorably pay off her parents’ debt despite her extreme desire to become a singer and see the world.
- Truth lies underneath the skin – Also a line in a song (all these themes are lines from songs). Although it isn’t really exaggerated, it is shown in how the bad guy, Preminger, is the Queen’s most trusted advisor, but he is actually totally undermining the kingdom. But what makes it really meaningful is expressed by how Erika is NOT who she says she is, but you’d never be able to tell from her outside appearance because she looks EXACTLY like Anneliese.
“Suppose one of you has a servant plowing or looking after the sheep. Will he say to the servant when he comes in from the field, ‘Come along now and sit down to eat’? Won’t he rather say, ‘Prepare my supper, get yourself ready and wait on me while I eat and drink; after that you may eat and drink’? Will he thank the servant because he did what he was supposed to do? So you also, when you have done everything you were told to do, should say, ‘We are unworthy servants; we have only done our duty.'” – Luke 17:7-10
This is a really great fairytale. And what is fun about it is it sort of follows the storyline and contains some elements from the original novel by Mark Twain, but it is mostly its own story. I feel like this is okay because it isn’t plagiarizing and twisting the story, it is kind of saying, “What if this happened in a different situation?” Also, the title includes Princess instead of Prince, which implies that it is a fractured tale.
I love the music! It all follows a theme, like musicals should. True, except for “If You Love Me For Me” and partially “The Cat’s Meow,” they are pretty inseparable from the movie, but it is still really fun to listen to and sing along to.
The added storyline of a plot against the kingdom is pretty cliché, but it doesn’t seem that way because it only fits the setting.
I am semi-okay with the love stories in this movie. Yes, those words just came out of my brain, through my fingers, into my keyboard, and onto the page! They are sappy, and it’s so weird how Anneliese and Julian “confess their love,” but Erika and Dominick are convincing.
There are talking animals in this movie, but they don’t talk to the characters, only to each other, and they aren’t just for marketing (it’s just the opposite–the characters are for marketing! whoopie, dolls! that I can’t get because I’m from too far in the future! waah!). They have important roles in the progression of the story, and not just “Scuttle finds buddies to poop on Ursula” kind of roles. If Serafina hadn’t chased the toy mouse, Anneliese would never have been kidnapped. If Serafina hadn’t gone to the castle with the tag from Madam Carp’s, Preminger would never have A. found Anneliese or B. been confirmed that Erika was indeed an imposter. If Herve hadn’t decided to warn Wolfie that the princess and Serafina were alive, but trapped, Wolfie never would have been able to make the decision to leave his mistress and go save them. If he hadn’t saved them, they would have starved to death because they wouldn’t have been able to find the old mineshaft and Preminger would have won because no one would believe Erika once she escaped, even if Dominic did back her up, and she would rot in prison the rest of her days. So that is an element I really like about this movie–instead of the animal sidekicks being there for comic relief or something (like, I’m sorry, Pua and Hei-Hei in Moana), they are essential to the plot.
I also LOVE LOVE LOVE the costumes in this movie! I don’t care if the graphics are poop! I want all of those dresses! Can I just say–especially the one Erika wears when she’s pretending to be Anneliese. That blue and that pink are so perfect together!
Erika is my favorite character in this movie. This started out when I was little because she’s a brunette, but now I actually like her character the best. She is so honest, for real, and she gets down on herself. She also loves singing, something I can totally relate to.
Just saying, Dominic would totally be the cool rock star celeb in our modern age. Or dj skateboarder. Just something cool related to music.
In my opinion this is one of the greatest acting feats in Kelly Sheridan’s career as Barbie. It’s true, my favorite acting she’s done for a Barbie character is sassy Merliah Summers (second favorite is Courtney in Rock ‘n Royals), but in this one, she really made Anneliese and Erika two totally different people. It is really impressive.
One thing about this movie I don’t agree on–the people should have been totally fine if the Queen didn’t have any more gold. It’s not like they’re all on welfare. They didn’t HAVE welfare back then. The economy, if there weren’t any restrictive laws (Okay, yes, there probably were, this is feudal system Europe, but if Genevieve is half the caring Queen they make her out to be, she should have let the economy be free…unless she didn’t know how that worked…hmm, what if she married into the throne and never actually trained to be a ruler, and that’s why she holds Anneliese so closely to learning about laws…sorry, I have to go away for a minute and think about crazy Barbie movie conspiracies…), should have been able to take care of itself. Of course, the Queen needs funding for an army and whatnot…but that’s what taxes are for. RIGHT? I SEE THOSE FANCY DRESSES YOUR DAUGHTER HAS ON, GENEVIEVE.
Although it would be awesome possum for Queen Genevieve to be Princess Genevieve from 12 Dancing Princesses, I don’t think she is bc A. I’m sorry, but she isn’t gorgeous enough to be Beautiful Genevieve we saw in 12 Dancing Princesses and B. the kingdom is “high on a mountaintop,” nothing like the rolling hills of 12 Dancing Princesses. Plus, since Genevieve married Derek, a cobbler, she wouldn’t become a queen. She should be reduced to a peasant now, but at best her father let her keep her status and now Derek’s a prince.
This movie is totally recommended. The graphics stink, but the animation itself isn’t bad and the acting is pretty good. The singing is also good.