Review: Barbie Princess Adventure

Princess Barbie is back with a modern new makeover. Barbie Princess Adventure premiered on Netflix today, and it made me miss the old Barbie more than ever. This musical princess adventure played like an extended episode of the Barbie Dreamhouse Adventures series rather than a remake of the fantastic Barbie as the Princess and the Pauper movie from 2004. If anything, it was an animated version of Netflix's The Princess Switch from 2018 with songs inspired by Disney's 2006 High School Musical. It was more modern than Barbie's 2012 princess doppleganger remake, The Princess and the Popstar, speaking to a new generation of girls who grew up surrounded by technology and social media. I understand that I am far from the target age group for this movie, but I feel like movies set in modern times will inevitably feel dated over time, whereas those set in an era long past like The Princess and the Pauper come off as classic and timeless.


Barbie Princess Adventure

Barbie Princess Adventure begins when Barbie and her friends are selected by their school for a free trip to the kingdom of Floravia. It turns out that Flovaria's Princess Amelia pulled some strings to make sure they were chosen. When she saw Barbie's music video for the song "Try It On," she noticed that the famous vlogger bore a strong resemblance to her and decided to have a little fun. Right before hre trip, Barbie is contacted by a powerful social media rep who also saw her music video and wants to turn her into a viral online sensation to profit off her work. Social media is a big theme in this movie, probably to make it more relatable to modern-day girls. Princess Amelia feels that she doesn't know who she is because everything she does is planned in advance by her massive palace staff in order to maintain her public online image. This serves as a social commentary on celebrity worship and social media fame, but the movie never takes it to a deeper level. There isn't a part where we see the dark side of the media like we do in The Princess Diaries when Mia is tricked into getting photographed in a changing tent. Instead, it keeps things light, fluffy, and superficial.

This movie is a musical, but not the same kind as The Princess and the Pauper. Most of the songs have very little relevance to the plot. They are used more as an excuse for ensemble dance and dress-up montages than to move the story along. The most relevant song is when Princess Amelia sings "(Not) a Picture Perfect Girl," which is vaguely reminiscent of "Free" from The Princess and the Pauper with a modern pop feel to it. The songs in this took me out of the story more than anything else. The audio quality takes a drastic shift every time someone starts singing, and the voices sound heavily autotuned. It has a more modern feel than the Barbie movies of old but a lot less heart. Even the costumes the royal characters wear look uncharacteristically modern. Would a real princess really wear a tank top and skirt to her coronation ceremony, even in modern times? The only thing I liked about the costumes in the movie is that they ramped up the reflection effects on the textures, making the decorative glitter accents on everyone's t-shirts and skirts sparkle and shimmer brilliantly.

Even though this movie was barely over an hour long, I had trouble staying focused. The villain wasn't revealed until around the last quarter of the movie and got defeated within minutes. Before that, it was just a bunch of peppy teenagers jumping around and singing about what a good time they were having in Floravia. To be honest, I'm not even sure why Barbie's friends were there except as an excuse to make more dolls since they never did anything besides follow Barbie around and try to help her pretend to be Amelia. Ken spent the whole movie trying to tell Barbie about his crush on her (which we all know about) and getting interrupted, similar to Kristoff's role in Frozen 2. I think it would have been more interesting if Barbie brought her sisters with her instead of her friends because they have different ages and hobbies and would be more likely to find other things to do in Floravia besides tagging along with Barbie the whole time.

Overall, Barbie Princess Adventure is nothing more than a glorified episode of Barbie Dreamhouse Adventures created solely for the purpose of selling new dolls. I think we're going to have to come to terms with the fact that the Barbie movies as we once knew them ended with Barbie Dolphin Magic in 2017. I appreciate the attempt to criticize social media culture and how we can miss out on the world around us if we don't put our phones away. However, I don't think taking pictures of things we want to remember and sharing them with our friends is such a bad thing. If Amelia's reason for not wanting to be in the spotlight anymore was that she did something that was heavily criticized by the media, it would have made her character a lot more interesting and Barbie's by proxy for needing to cover it up. The fact that the first Barbie princess story in years was one that had already been done multiple times just goes to show that creativity in Hollywood is dead, even for a character who teaches us that we can be anything.

Comments

PrincessContent said…
Hi there! Been a while!

I tried to watch the movie but I never finished it because I feel asleep. And I rarely fall asleep while watching movies, good or boring, so it says a lot when it actually happens.

It’s really sad that Mattel decided to do this cheap story instead of putting some more heart into it, including the songs. There are so many lovely fairy tales to adapt and the old formula with Barbie telling her sister a story worked so well! They can have the new dream house Barbie do that too.
Lisa Dawn said…
Hi! Nice to hear from you again. :) That's so funny that you fell asleep! I had to force myself to stay focused as well. I kept wanting to check my emails or go do something else. I guess that doesn't bode well for the quality of the movie. :-P

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