Barbie Fairytopia: Mermaidia
What parents need to know
Parents Need to Know
Parents need to know that this Barbie tale features fairies and mermaids who have to overcome some frightening undersea challenges to save a friend who's been kidnapped. There's never any doubt that everything will end up "happily ever after," but there are a few scenes of mild peril and a villainess with creepy henchmen made of fungus. Nothing offensive to note, except that as with most movies aimed at young girls, there is blossoming romance -- including a character who acts jealously toward a fairy who might be her rival for a mermaid prince's affection. Families concerned with consumerism should note that the movie acts as an 85-minute commercial of sorts for the merchandise of Barbie's Fairytopia collection.
What's the story?
Barbie returns as the courageous fairy Elina (Kelly Sheridan), who was granted wings for her bravery in the original Barbie: Fairytopia. Elina has just gotten used to flying around the Magic Meadow when she receives news that her friend Nalu (Alessandro Juliani), the prince of the Merpeople, has been been kidnapped by the evil fairy Laverna's (Kathleen Barr) three fungus henchmen. When the fungi threaten to poison the sea, Nalu agrees to give up the secrets of a magical "immunity berry" that will restore Laverna's power. Elina, accompanied by her pet puffball Bibble (Lee Tockar), travel to the sea, where a jealous mermaid Nori (Chiara Zanni) refuses to help her at first. But Elina perseveres and finds a way to go into the water and collaborate with the Nalu-smitten Nori to save him and defeat Laverna again. To do so, however, Elina must be willing to give up her newly earned wings and temporarily turn into a mermaid before a magical spell wears off and leaves her a mermaid forever.
Is it any good?
There's a lot going on in this story, and it seems a bit needlessly complicated for a movie aimed at preschool-aged girls. With all the Indiana Jones-like challenges Elina and Nori have to pass to get to Nalu, and the whole, slightly ridiculous immunity berry subplot, it's all a bit much. And unlike much bigger-budget animated productions, there aren't any memorable musical numbers or comedy bits to lighten up the dramatic tension. Elina is also slightly too perfect, but girls probably won't mind, since she's so beautiful and brave.
One of the rare humorous scenes is when the squeaky voiced Bibble eats a magical berry that allows him to sing like an opera singer. Bibble breaks out into an aria that enchants and distracts the fungus goons. Bibble is an adorable sidekick and adds a much-needed dose of humor to an adventure that is conspicuously low on laughs, otherwise. The head fungus, Maximus (Christopher Gaze) is the stereotypical English butler-type who acts (and sounds) haughtily superior to his two less cultured underlings. As heroic journeys go, this is not exactly Finding Nemo, but Elina is an irresistibly sweet protagonist. Little girls are sure to consider her a role model, even if parents may not be as enchanted.
Families can talk about...
Families can talk about how Elina and Nori have to work together despite not being friends at first. How does their teamwork pay off in the end? What actions turn their collaboration into friendship?
What does "trust your true self" mean? Does it make a difference to face challenges if you believe you can succeed?
Does this movie make you want to get a Barbie? Is it hard to separate the Barbie dolls from the movie?