A lot or a little?
The parents' guide to what's in this movie.
What parents need to know
Parents need to know that Barbie the Pearl Princess is a straight-to-DVD feature film tied to a new line in the legendary doll brand. This particular movie is another undersea Barbie-as-mermaid adventure that features some mild violence (a royal captain of the guard orders someone to poison the king and later kidnaps the princess and orders his henchman to "get rid of her") and romance (flirting and dancing). Some families may not appreciate how much this story focuses on appearance, makeovers, and fashion (the main character is a gifted hair and wardrobe stylist). Although the movie has generally positive messages, the tie-in to the dolls and all the girly-girl stereotypes may not sit well with families looking for more gender-neutral role models and less merchandise-targeted entertainment.
What's the story?
BARBIE THE PEARL PRINCESS is sort of like Rapunzel-meets-Edward Scissorhands with dashes of The Lion King and The Little Mermaid. Lumina (Kelly Sheridan) is a solitary mermaid being raised by a doting older "aunt" who doesn't let her leave their secluded undersea home. Lumina dreams of being a princess and has a magical ability to control pearls. When Lumina's mysterious aunt is summoned by the evil General Kaligo to attend a royal ball in the big city, Lumina and her best friend Kuda (a pink seahorse) follow along. Once at court, Lumina is quickly hired as a stylist to young and beautiful mermaids. But, as it turns out, Lumina is more than a talented hairdresser: she could be the key to the kingdom's future.
Is it any good?
This will mostl likely please little girls who love Barbie. But while this Barbie release has elements of various tried-and-true themes -- the secret princess who has no idea about her royal origins, the magical mermaid with a fish best friend, the offbeat hairdresser everyone loves -- the story never really comes together and is less compelling, entertaining, or educational than comparable productions such as Barbie Mariposa & the Fairy Princess, Barbie: A Perfect Christmas, and Barbie in the Pink Shoes.
Kids (particularly girls) may enjoy the relationship between Lumina and her best pal, the seahorse Kuda, as well as the light romance in the final third of the movie. But overall Pearl Princess isn't one of the more memorable Barbie installments, despite all the similarities to Rapunzel and other movies. Still, if you have a Barbie fan in the family, they may be excited to meet yet another incarnation of the doll and getting a new tale.
Talk to your kids about ...
Families can talk about why these Barbie movies are so popular. Do you have to be a fan of the dolls to enjoy the movies? Which of the Barbie movies do you prefer: the ones in which Barbie is in an established story or in which she's in an original story, such as this one?
Kids: Does seeing this movie make you more interested in buying the Pearl Princess-theme Barbies and accessories? Parents: How can you focus on the stories' positive messages without getting any merchandise?
A lot of the movie focuses on the mermaids and other creatures getting makeovers. What are some of the messages about beauty and gender that get communicated in Barbie movies and toys? Is this movie different in any way?
- On DVD or streaming: March 11, 2014
- Cast: Kelly Sheridan, Katie Crown, Mark Oliver
- Director: Zeke Norton
- Studio: Universal Studios Home Entertainment
- Genre: Family and Kids
- Topics: Magic and Fantasy, Princesses, Fairies, Mermaids, and More, Fairy Tales, Ocean Creatures
- Run time: 74 minutes
- MPAA rating: NR
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Common Sense Media's unbiased ratings are created by expert reviewers and aren't influenced by the product's creators or by any of our funders, affiliates, or partners.