Barbie in a Mermaid Tale

Movie review by
Joly Herman, Common Sense Media
Barbie in a Mermaid Tale Movie Poster Image
Parents recommendPopular with kids
Fun undersea adventure oddly paired with lots of shopping.
  • NR
  • 2010
  • 75 minutes

Parents say

age 6+
Based on 8 reviews

Kids say

age 6+
Based on 15 reviews

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A lot or a little?

The parents' guide to what's in this movie.

Educational Value
Positive Messages

Lessons of doing what's responsible and right and correcting bad behavior are mostly overshadowed by superficiality; the girls shop an awful lot. However, unlike other Barbie movies, there is no prince charming here -- the girls save the day on their own.

Positive Role Models & Representations

Merliah does take charge of her own destiny -- wtih the help of her friends. Her surfer-dude Grandpa is a very understanding and mellow guy.

Violence & Scariness

Some perilous underwater chase scenes where Merliah and her friends are threatened by giant jellyfish or manta-sharks. Aris is an evil ruler who uses whirlpools to capture people and put them into dungeons.

Sexy Stuff

All female characters wear bikini tops all the time.


Not only are the Barbie items pushed (the doll's hair changes color, just like in the movie), but the girls in the movie are completely focused on shopping and hair. There are very lightly veiled allusions to the makeup store Sephora ("Seaphora" in the movie) and shops like the trendy L.A. store, Fred Segal ("Fred Seagull.") Very elaborate shopping scenes.

Drinking, Drugs & Smoking

What parents need to know

Parents need to know that the materialistic vibe of this movie is pretty over the top. Oceana is populated with girls who shop all day and act ditzy. On the other hand, there's no prince in this Barbie movie -- the girls save the day all on their own. Violence is pretty mild with some underwater chase scenes and an evil ruler who captures people in whirlpools.

User Reviews

  • Parents say
  • Kids say
Parent of a 3, 10, 11, 12, 15, and 17-year-old Written byAlyssa_299 July 31, 2010


Weird but okay.
Adult Written byBeth L December 23, 2019

An ugly sight of Barbie/Merliah I've never seen before

The only thing that bothered me the most was that when Merliah was talking with her friends and Zuma at the beach. It was when she was angry about Oceana and he... Continue reading
Kid, 10 years old March 29, 2010
hate it
Teen, 15 years old Written byApplesauce Doctor August 17, 2013

A Disgrace to the Barbie Films

Another awful Barbie movie. The main character complains far too much and is annoying. The story is very predictable, and in the end, it doesn't feel like... Continue reading

What's the story?

When Merliah (voiced by Kelly Sheridan) competes in a Malibu surfing tournament her hair turns a gnarly shade of pink. This sends her underwater -- where she discovers she can not only breathe but understand a dolphin speaking to her. Merliah soon finds out that she is not only half-mermaid, but the daughter of the Queen of Oceana. And Oceana is in trouble thanks to a cruel leader who has imprisoned her mother. With the help of her new underwater friends, Merliah must find three magical objects in order to reclaim her title as princess and to set her mother free.

Is it any good?

Because the underwater world is full of fascinating scenery, and because the adventure is pretty exciting, the rampant consumerism in this movie really is a drag. Couldn't the girls in Oceana be pretty and fun without being so utterly focused on their clothes and hair? That said, Barbie fans will enjoy the ride, though parents might cringe to hear their girls mimicking the totally gnarly surf-speak that pervades the Malibu beach scenes.

Talk to your kids about ...

  • Families can talk about how consumerism in movies like this influences viewers. Here are some tips that can help your kids see through the hype.

  • Did kids notice the swimsuit figures? Do they seem realistic? Is the Barbie shape a realistic one for girls? For anyone?

Movie details

Our editors recommend

For kids who love Barbie

Themes & Topics

Browse titles with similar subject matter.

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