Barbie & Chelsea: The Lost Birthday
By Jennifer Green,
Common Sense Media Reviewer
Common Sense Media Reviewers
Animated Barbie adventure has mild peril, positive lessons.
A Lot or a Little?
What you will—and won't—find in this movie.
Kisa may be inspired to try new things and face challenges with a brave face. They'll learn from Chelsea the importance of putting your friends first and valuing your family.
Even little kids should be listened to and allowed to attempt new challenges. They're often capable of more than they're given credit for. Sometimes letting someone do something on their own is the best way to help. Nothing's more important than family. Growing up is worth celebrating. Don't be afraid of sharing your talents with others.
Positive Role Models
Barbie's family is on an eco-friendly cruise ship thanks to her mother's job, which involves coding and the ship's computer systems. As the big sister, Barbie often repeats that her job is to help her three younger sisters, and her parents regularly leave her in charge, disappearing for most of the movie. Chelsea demonstrates courage and friendship in her island adventure. Chelsea's island companions say they wish to pursue their hobbies, get home, make friends, and be helpful. The activities director is mean, doesn't like kids, and is keeping a secret. The assistant activities director helps the girls find Chelsea. Chelsea learns to be brave, strong, and clever on her adventure. Barbie offers a specific representation of the female body, but here she and her sisters are teens, tweens, or kids, not women.
Violence & Scariness
A 7-year-old girl appears to leave the cruise ship alone, take a zip line across the ocean, and embark on a treasure hunt on a jungle island with some animals she picks up as companions. A Tiki statue is angry and repeatedly threatens Chelsea and the gang, at one point closing them into a cave. The girls encounter giant spiders, quicksand, poisonous flowers, hungry parrots, a seemingly angry tiger, and snarling crocodiles on the island. A volcano spews lava. Lots of characters fall down or are knocked over. A parrot says he was forced to walk the plank into a lava pit.
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Products & Purchases
The film serves as marketing for Barbie products: dolls and pets from this film are on sale.
Parents Need to Know
Parents need to know that this one-hour animated tale is for very young viewers, but Barbie and her sisters, especially the littlest, do face some mild peril in Barbie & Chelsea: The Lost Birthday. It might not be clear to the youngest viewers whether 7-year-old Chelsea's adventure -- leaving a cruise ship alone to seek a magic gem on a jungle island -- is meant to be real or imagined, considering all of the film and characters are imaginary. Chelsea makes some animal friends on her treasure hunt and learns valuable lessons about courage, strength, and quick thinking as she solves riddles and gets around sticky situations. She also encounters a giraffe held hostage in a giant spider's web, a roaring tiger, and snarling crocodiles. None of these stuffed animal-looking characters are drawn in a very menacing way except for a large Tiki statue, who has an angry face, a booming voice, and threatens Chelsea and her friends with hot lava spewing from a volcano. Tiki also shuts them into a dark cave. Barbie and her other two sisters go looking for Chelsea and encounter their own setbacks with poisonous flowers, hungry parrots, and quicksand. Parent viewers may wonder why Barbie's parents don't seem especially panicked when Chelsea goes missing on a large cruise ship, or why they don't seem to know where the girls are at most times. Barbie offers a specific representation of the female body, but here she and her sisters are teens, tweens, or kids, not women. The older two sisters seem to have their smart phones in their hands at all times. The film carries positive lessons about family, siblings, and giving little kids credit and some autonomy to demonstrate their own abilities. It adds another entry into the body of Barbie films and shows, thus serving as marketing for Barbie products: dolls and pets from this film are already on sale.
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Barbie & Chelsea: The Lost Birthday
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What's the Story?
Barbie and her family are embarking on a Tiki-themed, eco-friendly cruise at the start of BARBIE & CHELSEA: THE LOST BIRTHDAY. Barbie's mom is there to work and her dad is looking forward to some rest, so they put Barbie in charge of her three younger sisters: Skipper, Stacie, and the youngest, Chelsea. The girls set out to find the best place on the boat to celebrate Chelsea's seventh birthday the very next day, but they're frustrated at every turn by an angry and uncooperative activities director. The next morning, when Chelsea wakes up, she realizes the ship has crossed the International Date Line and she has missed her entire birthday. Upset, she goes to hide out, and that's when she sets out on a magical adventure on a jungle island, where she makes some new animal friends on a treasure hunt for a gem that can grant them all their wishes. Her wish, of course, is to go back and recuperate her birthday.
Is It Any Good?
This film, intended for younger kids, sends the well-known teenager and her younger sisters on a fun and colorful adventure. The cruise ship and jungle island setting of Barbie & Chelsea: The Lost Birthday, complete with Tiki statues, pirate references, and talking parrots, may even feel exotic to some. The animation is targeted at the youngest viewers, with soft-edged, stuffed animal-looking characters, though some of the stiff movements of the human bodies in the show could be a little off-putting.
Chelsea's solo adventure should appeal to kids' imaginations in the same way Dora the Explorer's do, where the stakes appear high but can actually be managed by a 7-year-old. A musical number and some references to DJs, vlogs, and smart phone apps also seem like portrayals of teens or tweens intended to excite kids younger than that. Chelsea's animal friends all have individual wishes for personality traits they'd like to have or hobbies they'd like to explore, and the film sweetly shows how they all ultimately discover they've had these traits and skills in them all along.
Talk to Your Kids About ...
Families can talk about Chelsea's adventure on the magic island in Barbie & Chelsea: The Lost Birthday. Did it really happen or was it all a dream? Why do you think so?
Chelsea misses her birthday because the cruise ship crosses the International Date Line. Do you know what that is? Where could you go for more information?
Barbie has a vlog and Skipper sleeps with her smart phone in her hand. Parents: talk to your kids about smart uses of technology.
- On DVD or streaming: April 16, 2021
- Cast: America Young, Cassidy Nabur, Kirsten Day
- Director: Cassi Simonds
- Studio: Netflix
- Genre: Family and Kids
- Topics: Magic and Fantasy, Adventures, Brothers and Sisters, Friendship
- Run time: 60 minutes
- MPAA rating: NR
- Last updated: June 2, 2023
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