A lot or a little?
The parents' guide to what's in this movie.
What parents need to know
Parents need to know that this fairytale-based fantasy combines elements that will appeal to little girls -- it's all right there in the title -- and themes that might scare them, too: The princesses' father is being slowly poisoned by a cruel relative who also bullies the girls. Parents should also be aware of the large number of product tie-ins they'll find mentioned in the insert, featured online, and in the toy stores.
What's the story?
BARBIE IN THE 12 DANCING PRINCESSES stars Barbie (voiced by Kelly Sheridan) as Princess Genevieve, one of 12 high-spirited sisters who are doted on by their father, King Randolph. But the widowed royal worries that he doesn't know how to raise proper young ladies, so he enlists the help of his cousin, Duchess Rowena. The duchess has ulterior motives, which is immediately obvious from the second she arrives at the palace with her dilapidated carriage, evil-looking eyebrows, and creepy pet monkey. She bullies the princesses, even banning dancing, singing, and bright colors from their home. She's also poisoning the king with her deadly brew of tea. In perfect timing, the sisters discover the secret entrance to a magical world of dancing -- a special gift from their late mother. But they realize that they must return home to save their father from Rowena and her minions.
Is it any good?
Although it tries to be a magical fairytale for little girls, this Barbie story steps on its own toes a bit. On the one hand, it's an innocent story about sisterly love and ballet dancing appropriate for girls 5 to 7. On the other, it incorporates an ominous subplot that might be frightening to that same age group. The CGI animation is similar to a computer game. As a result, the dancing scenes (choreographed by the NYC Ballet) feel artificial. Other animation is more lifelike and detailed.
The older princesses are, of course, Barbie-slim and look almost exactly alike, except for hair and eye color, as do the younger sisters. Most of their personalities aren't well developed, with the exception of Genevieve and four of her sisters. The lighter side of this movie is probably too simplistic for older kids, but the poisoning scenes and other scary moments may be too much for younger ones.
Talk to your kids about ...
Families can talk about how the sisters work together to save their family. Although escaping into the magical dancing land is fun, why is it important for them to return home? If you had a magical land to go to every night, what would it be like, and would you bring your siblings with you? Would your magic place require a tiara and a dress or comfy PJs and play clothes?
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