Studio: Universal Studios Home Entertainment
Director(s): Zeke Norton
Cast: Ashleigh Ball, Kelly Sheridan
Genre: Family and Kids
Run Time: 76 minutes
MPAA Rating: NR
Common Sense Says: Trading places fantasy is fun (marketing) for little girls.
Common Sense Rates It:
Parents need to know
Parents need to know that Barbie: The Princess and The Popstar is Mattel's version of The Prince and the Pauper. There are a few mild insults ("buffoon," "loco") and a subplot involving a criminal plan to steal a precious, diamond-encrusted magical plant. Like all of the Barbie movies, the storyline is a means to appeal to interested girls who will go on to ask their parents for the specific Barbie dolls (in this case Tori or Keira). Marketing reasons aside, this is a harmless movie about getting the chance to be "who you want," venture outside your comfort zone, and learn what it's like to be different, even if it's just for a couple of days.
- Families can talk about why Barbie movies are so popular. Do the movies make you want to get those particular Barbie dolls?
- What do Tori and Keira learn about each other? Why did each think the other had a better life? Did trading places change them?
- Do you think you'd be as interested in watching this movie if it didn't have the Barbie brand?
What's the story?
In the kingdom of Meribella, sheltered Princess Tori (voiced by Kelly Sheridan) and popstar Keira (Ashleigh Ball) each wish they could be more like the other. When they finally meet at a royal ball, they discover they each possess a magical object: the princess has a hairbrush that can change anyone's hairstyle, and the popstar has a microphone that can alter outfits at will. After playing with their magic, they turn into each other and decide to swap places for a day. But as the night of an important concert approaches, they must work together to save the kingdom from a plot that could leave Meribella destitute.
Is it any good?
As Prince and the Pauper adaptations go, this one is definitely approachable for the youngest movie fans. Little girls will be smitten with the idea of getting to trade places with a princess or a popstar (neither is a pauper, because that exact story has already been told in a different Barbie movie!), and parents will appreciate the lessons learned from the experience (staying true to yourself, helping others, and becoming best friends with someone who understands you).The musical numbers are catchy, and for once there's only the tiniest hint of romance -- and it barely registers compared to the story of the two young women. There's something irresistible about the idea of two people with vastly different lives trading places, and even in the Barbie world, it's more compelling than some of the other movies have been. Barbie DVDs are never likely to convert parents who've banned the doll from their homes, but families who embrace the iconic toy will enjoy her latest movie/marketing vehicle.
The Good Stuff
Messages: By switching places, Tori and Keira realize that the grass is always greener no matter who you are -- the pop star wants to be more like the princess, and vice versa. They both learn about the importance of caring for those who are less fortunate and not living in the small bubble of their status or fame.
Educational Value: This is strictly for entertainment purposes, though some positive social messages are included.
Role Models: Princess Tori and Keira each learn from the experience of pretending to be the other. Tori realizes that the citizens of her kingdom have more problems than she ever knew, and Keira realizes that she doesn't have to make every decision herself. Both of them go back to themselves with a newfound appreciation for each other, their loved ones, and their roles.
What to watch out for
Violence & scariness: The villain smacks his assistant for almost telling the truth about their evil plan. Comical physical comedy as two men attempt to unlock a door.
Sexy stuff: Flirting involves one of the main characters falling directly on top of a guy. Later, the guy helps the "princess" during a crucial moment, and lingering looks are exchanged.
Language: Mild insults: "party pooper," "loco," "buffoon," "crazy," and "quitter."
Consumerism: Universal and Mattel are jointly responsible for this movie, and dolls featured in the movie are available for purchase.
Drinking, drugs & smoking: Not an issue