Barbie: Princess Charm School

Movie review by
Sandie Angulo Chen, Common Sense Media
Barbie: Princess Charm School Movie Poster Image
Stereotypes and marketing mar story of likable underdog.
  • NR
  • 2011
  • 81 minutes

Parents say

age 6+
Based on 5 reviews

Kids say

age 6+
Based on 7 reviews

A lot or a little?

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

Educational Value

Through the story, kids may learn the importance of honesty, loyalty, and friendship, as well as the value of practicing to perfect for your skills.

Positive Messages

Good messages include teamwork, practicing your skills until you perfect them, and telling the truth even when you may not benefit from it. Unfortunately, the movie also has the side effect of making young girls want to buy Barbie dolls and all of the accessories shown in the movie.

Positive Role Models & Representations

Blair is a good role model; she's kind to her mother and sister, hardworking in order to earn money for her family, and persistent in her studies at the princess charm school. Miss Privet also recognizes that Blair deserves a chance and decides to tutor her. On the other hand, one character acts as a "mean girl" through much of the movie, and another girl is portrayed as an airhead.

Violence & Scariness
Sexy Stuff

The princesses-to-be dance with their male equivalents.

Language

An adult uses the term "poor" and "commoner" derisively.

Consumerism

The Barbie movies may have plots and characters, but they're basically endeavors in merchandising. Almost everything in the movie -- from the main characters to the outfits and the vehicles -- have product tie-ins that can be bought. There's also a Mattel site devoted to the movie, as well as a series of tie-in books for early readers.

Drinking, Drugs & Smoking

What parents need to know

Parents need to know that this direct-to-DVD movie is an installment in Mattel's ever-growing list of cleverly marketed tie-ins to their newest Barbie collections. While there's little objectionable content in the story (besides the inclusion of a perpetually ignorant "air head" character), the entire movie is made to boost advertising and generate even more interest in the dolls and their accessories -- in this case about a princess academy where one spot is reserved for a lottery winner who will learn how to be a lady-in-waiting to royalty. Despite the emphasis on makeovers and fashion, there's a stronger than usual focus on practicing skills (even if they're of the "finishing school" variety), telling the truth, and being kind to those less fortunate.

User Reviews

Parent of a 5 year old Written byBosendorfer71 August 20, 2012

An Hour Long Commercial

Horrible. The people making these movies have got to get their act together. The story was so lame. We watched it with our 5 year old and she couldn't tell... Continue reading
Parent of an infant, 1, 4, and 5 year old Written byMrs. Higgles November 19, 2011

Hour Long Barbie Commercial

I let my 5 year old daughter watch this film because thought it would be a fantastic movie for all the girls in the family. But as soon as the title came up it... Continue reading
Kid, 11 years old October 19, 2012

best movie ever

I love this movie. It helps teach children to forgive.to try and try until they get it right. it doesnt even mention alot about boy/girl only once and it was on... Continue reading
Teen, 13 years old Written byandasif July 2, 2012

Dont be surprised when your kid wants a barbie doll

Let me tell you how a barbie movie works. First you watch the movie. Then you get ur kid acting like a princess for the rest of the day (or week.) Then she play... Continue reading

What's the story?

Blair Willows (voiced by Diana Kaarina) is a waitress trying to help support her mother and younger sister. One day she returns home from work to discover that she's unexpectedly won a televised lottery to attend the exclusive Princess Charm School, an elite boarding academy where she can train to become a princess or royal lady in waiting. Blair reluctantly agrees to attend to provide a better life for her family, but besides her kind roommates, she quickly becomes the target of the school's queen-to-be Delancy (Brittney Wilson) and her snobby mother, professor Dame Devin (Nicole Oliver). Although the Devins try to sabotage Blair's time at Charm School, the sympathetic Miss Privet (Morwenna Banks) tutors her so she can reach graduation day.

Is it any good?

Barbie keeps adding various careers and storylines to her repertoire, and in this less-than-stellar incarnation, she's a kind and loving princess student. Never mind that in reality, royalty is all about birthright and doesn't provide "scholarships" for random wannabes, the fairy tale will delight young girls who will look past the budget computer animation (backgrounds are fuzzy, and everything looks amateurish, without detail) and the preposterous. 

While hardworking Blair is a vast improvement over a couple of other Barbie protagonists, one of the movie's most disturbing characters is Portia (Ali Liebert) -- a "dumb girl" who takes things literally because she's so ignorant. Even pseudo-villain Delancy redeems herself, but a girl as air-headish as Portia is an awful role model for girls, who may think she's funny. There are many flaws in this formulaic princess flick, but at least Blair will show that if you practice again and again, you'll get better at everything -- from posture and dancing to, one hopes, much more important endeavors.

Talk to your kids about ...

  • Families can talk about whether this movie focuses more or less on consumerism (fashion and the "rich and famous" lifestyle) than other Barbie movies. How is Blair different than the other charm school students? Why is she a more likable underdog than the other characters?

  • Kids: Does seeing this movie make you more interested in buying the dolls and accessories? Parents: How can you focus on the movie's positive themes without giving in to the merchandising impact?

  • In the movie, even beautiful Blair is made to feel lowly because she doesn't come from a wealthy family. Which of the charm-school students make her welcome, and which ones criticize her and act threatened?

Movie details

Themes & Topics

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