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What parents need to know
Parents need to know that Barbie Dolphin Magic is another cheerful video in the Barbie doll animated series. This one takes Barbie and her younger sisters on an island vacation to visit their friend Ken at his marine biology internship. A greedy villain tries to steal marine wildlife for big money and Barbie, her sisters, and Ken step in to save the animals. A mermaid is discovered in the process. Mild peril and bad guys provide tension, but there's no actual violence or harm to scare away younger viewers. Positive messages about trust, teamwork, and ingenuity are woven throughout.
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What's the story?
BARBIE DOLPHIN MAGIC is a sweet tale featuring an animated Barbie (Erica Lindbeck) and her younger sisters on an island vacation. They visit Ken (Adrian Petriw), who is interning at a marine biology lab, but they quickly discover that the lab's head, Marlo (Maryke Hendikse), is a sinister and greedy sea animal kidnapper who isn't helping rare dolphins at all but instead is plucking them out of the sea and selling them to circus sideshows for big bucks. To help foil this nasty plot, Barbie, her sisters, and Ken team up with Isla (Shannon Chan-Kent), who shares the secret that she's a mermaid. Mild tension grows as the team tries to save the dolphins from Marlo, but all ends well.
Is it any good?
This movie does a good job of promoting the idea that humans should be kind to and take care of vulnerable animals living in our seas. However, many liberties are taken with reality. Barbie befriends a mermaid and meets brightly colored "gemstone" dolphins, animals covered with sparkly markings that disappear in captivity. Barbie Dolphin Magic also promotes a sense that life is a pretty happy affair, where youngsters go to idyllic islands for vacations, taking their puppies along but not their parents. Such fantasies about teenage privilege and independence make for a feel-good experience, but some of the liberties should be addressed by grown-ups who watch along. Barbie and pals go snorkeling, which requires that the top of the snorkel be exposed to air for breathing purposes, but these kids all swim underwater for long minutes while wearing snorkels, as if they were getting air through the gear. Grownups should be sure to warn kids that they shouldn't try this stunt at home.
Parents may also want to point out that the characters are based on dolls, and unusually perfect-looking ones at that, to underscore that looks are less important than kindness and good character. Still, this is a cute story that will entertain its intended audience.
Talk to your kids about ...
Families can talk about the importance of keeping wildlife safe in their native habitat. What can you do to help the animals?
Barbie and her sisters meet a mermaid. Do you think mermaids are real? Do you think magic is real? Does Barbie Dolphin Magic use magic to help tell the story?
The movie is about "gemstone" dolphins, which are supposed to be mythical, brightly colored sea animals with sparkly markings. Do you think that the movie created these special creatures to help us understand how extraordinary and valuable even ordinary dolphins are?
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