I know many don’t consider the Barbie movies to be true indies but, for the purposes of this club, they fit because they aren’t widely talked about, and we are trying to get the Roto-readers to expand their horizons beyond Disney-Pixar and DreamWorks. Today, we are looking at one of the best in the Barbie series: 2004’s Barbie as The Princess and the Pauper.
In this fresh take on the classic Mark Twain story, Barbie plays a princess named Anneliese who is being forced to marry a man she does not love to save her family from disgrace as the royal treasury is bankrupt. She is devastated because she wants to marry her tutor Julian who she is in love with. Meanwhile, in the village, a woman named Erika struggles to be happy while working as an indentured servant for Madame Carp at her dress emporium.
One day in the village Anneliese and Erika meet and have an immediate connection.
Anneliese returns to the palace but that night she is kidnapped by Nick and Nack, who are associates with the evil advisor Preminger. Julian asks Erika to pretend to be Anneliese while they look for the kidnapped princess. Meanwhile Erika, disguised as Anneliese, meets King Dominick, who is also in disguise, and they are attracted to each other.
Anneliese escapes from Nick and Nack and Julian learns of Preminger’s plan to force the princess to marry him. Anneliese and Julian end up stuck in a cave and Preminger exposes Erika as a fraud.
Erika then meets up with Dominick in the dungeon while Anneliese and Julian discover valuable geodes in the mine that they can use to restore the wealth of the kingdom.
Preminger tries to convince the Queen that Anneliese is dead and that they must marry to save the kingdom. She relents but before they can be married Anneliese returns and exposes Preminger, and insists to her Mother that her true desire is to marry Julian. Dominick and Erika also wish to get married and everything ends happily.
I don’t normally do plot heavy reviews but it seemed like the best way to share what is most special about Barbie as The Princess and the Pauper: the music and the storytelling. This is the first real musical from Barbie, and they did a great job with beautiful songs that are well sung. It is impressive they have different singing voice actors than the normal talking lines but it feels seamless. I wish more animated films would do this as not every voice actor can sing.
The story is a classic fairytale but executed well and with enough pizzazz to keep things interesting and fun. The downside to the film is the same for all the Barbie films, mainly the weak animation. To enjoy a film like Barbie as The Princess and the Pauper you have to be willing to accept CG animation that isn’t the best. The rendering could be better and the backgrounds are practically non-existent. I find I can adjust because the other aspects are so outstanding but that won’t be the case for everyone.
Martin Short has tons of fun as Preminger and Kelly Sheridan does a great job differentiating between Anneliese and Erika in her vocal work (with Melissa Lyons and Julie Stevens doing the singing voices respectively).
If you have an open mind to this type of animated fairytale then you will enjoy Barbie as The Princess and the Pauper. It’s a good story with fairly well developed characters that struggle with conflicts that are not instantly solved by positive thinking or magic. The songs are terrific with beautiful singing voices from all around. The animation isn’t great but it is good enough to enjoy the film anyway. I bet if you give it a shot, you will be surprised by how much you like it.
What do you think of Barbie as The Princess and the Pauper? Have you seen it and is it your favorite of the Barbie movies? Let us know in the comments section!
Rachel is a rottentomatoes approved film critic that has loved animation since she was a little girl belting out songs from 'The Little Mermaid'. She reviews as many films as she can each year and loves interviewing actors, directors, and anyone with an interesting story to tell. Rachel is the founder of the popular Hallmarkies Podcast, and the Rachel's Reviews podcast/youtube channel, which covers all things animated including a monthly Talking Disney and Obscure Animation show.