The Barbie movies are an interesting phenomenon. On the surface, they are clearly made for little girls who play with Barbie dolls by Mattel Toys. The pink to purple palate alone give that perception.
They are also made for DVD sales and never released in theaters, which bring with it a certain reputation for bad quality. The rendering on all of them could be better, but every time I have convinced a friend to give the series a shot they walk away saying, “That was a lot better than I thought it would be.” It is with this in mind that I am excited to talk about the Barbie films for Indie-Animation Club and I hope that some of you will give them a shot and have a positive experience.
Today we are starting with the second Barbie release called Barbie as Rapunzel. In this story Barbie is telling Kelly the story of Rapunzel to encourage her sister to have more confidence in her painting. This is a different take on the story of Rapunzel, but it is surprisingly well written, performed, and produced.
In this version, Rapunzel is locked in her tower with a friendly dragon and a worrisome rabbit. She amuses herself by painting pictures of her dreams. Mother Gothel hates Rapunzel’s hobbies but does not stop her. Rapunzel (and Barbie) are voiced by Kelly Sheridan and Mother Gothel is voiced by Anjelica Huston. They both do a wonderful job in their roles. Barbie could have been an airhead kind of role, but not in the hands of Sheridan. She’s a sweet, kind, and thoughtful character.
One day, Rapunzel finds a tunnel under a hidden staircase that takes her to the village. While there she rescues a little girl named Katrina, who has a handsome brother named Prince Stefan (who’s very convenient and adorable).
Gothel obviously will have issues with Rapunzel’s dalliance into the village and the story takes on a bit of a Cinderella flavor as well as the traditional Rapunzel story. As I said, I love Anjelica Huston as Gothel. She’s the kind of icy, cold-hearted villain that I enjoy! I just love traditional old-school fairytales and that’s what you get here in Barbie as Rapunzel.
Without spoilers, there is also a nice message in Barbie as Rapunzel. Little Kelly learns to dream and put those dreams into her paintings – to let her art be a part of her, to express herself, and that’s when it really becomes art. These are the kind of sweet simple messages little girls need to hear.
In addition to a great story and voice casting, the music in Barbie as Rapunzel is strong. There are no songs but the score has choral notes to it and is performed by the London Symphony Orchestra. It has a bit of an Enya feel that I enjoy.
I really respect that Mattel put in the effort to make a direct-to-DVD Barbie movie as good as Barbie as Rapunzel is. I’ve seen many a theatrical release that do not have the same effort put into them. The animation is not top-tier but everything else is really great. The film has a great story, music, characters, and message. What more could you ask for?
Have you seen Barbie as Rapunzel? What did you think of it and the Barbie series of movies?
Edited by: Hannah Wilkes