Sunday, August 27, 2023

Enough With the Multiverse Shit Already

Have you been watching that new Superman cartoon? It's called My Adventures with Superman, and six episodes into the ten episode first season, I was quite enjoying it. You got some villains showing up, something to do with Kryptonian technology, and put the relationship between Clark and Lois at the forefront. Then they went and made episode seven. I'll get into it later, but the gist is they introduce a multiverse. Complete with universe numbers and a group made up of alternates of one person. Looking at the shit I watch, you might assume this is right up my alley. I certainly love the Spider-Verse movies, so why not? I'll tell you why. Enough is enough.

Comic properties are no strangers to multiverse shenanigans. Since DC had The Flash interacting with his previous iteration, each line has had a smattering of storylines that take place across different universes, such as DC's Crisis on Infinite Earths or Marvel's Captain Britain comics. That's all well and good, but the thing with comics is that there are a lot of them. There are a ton going on at any given time, and there was always a series going on that had nothing to do with the multiverse crossovers if you had no interest in them. Hell, the original Crisis was meant to dissolve the multiverse entirely, assumedly because writers didn't want to deal with it anymore. However, there's something that happens with adaptations that you don't have to deal with in the source material. Comics can have small stories that don't tie into anything big, what might be seen as filler to our current day, but necessary to build characters and a world for any comic. When adaptations come along, these sort of things are left by the wayside more often than not in favor of the big memorable stories, your Knightfalls and Kraven's Last Hunts. This has the effect of multiverse stories being more suited for adaptation, because they tend to have a bigger impact.

The long and short of that is: When The Council of Reeds showed up I could ignore they existed and read my Spider-Man. Now I can't escape it. Because the first one did so well, there's always a Spider-Verse or a Spider-Geddon occurring, and they keep having crossovers with comics I was enjoying just fine before. And because they keep making more comics, they keep making more adaptations.

I don't know if most of you can imagine a world before Rick and Morty. It was a naive age, where the concept of a deranged universe-traveling old man and his traumatized grandson having sci-fi parody adventures was a novel concept. It came out and it was funny and nobody was yet losing their shit about a McDonalds dipping sauce. Then the writers decided to do a parody of the Council of Reeds. The Citadel of Ricks had an episode, and for some reason things were never the same again. Later that year the Spider-Verse event in comics began, leading to Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse and now it's everywhere.

Before we move on I should clarify some terms, namely Alternate Universe story, Multiverse story, and Multiverse Team stories. Alternate Universe stories involve one or more characters crossing over to a single different universe. These have existed forever, like the Justice Lords saga in Justice League, or that first story where Barry Allen met Jay Garrick. Certain time travel stories are a subset of these, like Back to the Future 2, or even It's A Wonderful Life. A Multiverse story is like an Alternate Universe story, but add more universes. Spider-Man: Into The Spider-Verse is an example, where a bunch of universes crossed into Miles' universe, or Crisis on Infinite Earths, where a bunch of heroes from different universes team up to fight the Anti-Monitor. Then we have the newest craze, the Multiverse Team story, which is similar to the Multiverse story, but specifically involves a team of people that are all alternates of the same individual. This is, of course, like the Citadel of Ricks, the Council of Reeds, and Beyond the Spider-Verse as well as its comic counterpart.

I have no problem with Alternate Universe plots. I still like them, they've been a standard trait of fiction before people called them Alternate Universes. There's a lot of room there, for something as simple as the Mr. Bevis episode of the Twilight Zone or complex as Star Trek's Yesterday's Enterprise. Sure, the format isn't fool proof, but it's versatile enough that it can make well-thought, interesting stories. However, one just isn't enough anymore.

Without the focus on just one universe, Multiverse stories are more apt to be scattershot, requiring a lot more restraint. A writer can just kind of put anything in there, the sky's the limit. If you haven't established multiple universes before the story it's almost too simple to chuck in a bunch of fanservice or solve conflicts by plucking an answer from another reality. Not to say it can't be done well, as Futurama's The Farnsworth Parabox starts with one alternate universe and turns into a chase through a bunch of them, made mainly as jokes. Into the Spider-Verse is probably the shining example of this kind of story, but as the exception, not the rule. Otherwise you get something like The Flash (2023), a hodge-podge of past characters in uncanny CGI and references to abandoned projects that never saw the light of day, all in the name of spectacle.

Finally we come to the most contentious one of all, the Multiverse Team. These are far more prone to the deleterious aspects of the Multiverse plot, as the choice to have a bunch of different versions of the same character lends itself to excess. Once again, Beyond the Spider-Verse is our paragon. Even it has flaws, which can hopefully be mitigated by its sequel, but nails the premise a lot of others couldn't. It may surprise you, but the comic Spider-Verse, the one that lends its name to these movies? It's bad. The villains are pretty stupid, turning Force of Nature Morlun into just one of a family of Spider-Man eating vampires. The story is a string of attempts to enrage you by showing a Spider-Man you loved, like the title character of 1981 cartoon Spider-Man and His Amazing Friends, getting murdered by a tired cliche. Spider-Girl's dad? Dead. Spider-Man Unlimited? Dead. Repeat ad nauseam. It's danging candy in front of a baby's face before stomping it into the ground. Rick and Morty got about two good episodes out of the premise before becoming the current "I'm smarter than you" sludge, and I ain't watching more to make sure. Then there's Spider-Man No Way Home, which had its own set of problems that I don't need to reiterate here.

You may have noticed an abundance of Spider-Man in these examples. Sure, it could be due to my obsession with Spider-Man, but I offer a different explanation. Once you let it out, you can't get the Multiverse cat back in the bag. Ever since Spider-Verse, the whole property is inundated with Multiverse stories, from the Ultimate Spider-Man cartoon, to the new movies, and periodical new Spider-Verse comics. There's one going on right now! You can't do anything with Spider-Man anymore unless you at least acknowledge the Multiverse.

So we come back to My Adventures With Superman. In the episode we're introduced to a team of Multiverse Lois Lanes (and one alternate Olsen) and a new Mr. Mxyzptlk. Through this we're shown a ton of cameos from past Superman cartoons, like Superman the Animated Series, or the Lois from Fleisher's rotoscoped cartoons. These characters don't interact with anyone or do anything, they're only on screen so you can point and say "I remember that!" I don't need to be reminded of another Superman cartoon! Now, to be fair, I would probably just be annoyed if all this amounted to was a couple of cameos, but that's not it. They introduce both kryptonite and the concept of an Evil Superman in this episode, the latter ostensibly being the reason the League of Lois Lanes even exists. It feels like they skipped some stuff! They didn't have to go the Smallville route of kryptonite being under every corner, but I thought it would at least get a proper introduction. Evil Superman, as a concept, has a lot of pitfalls, this more so due to this Superman being easily the softest cinnamon roll tumblr ever conceived, but they get to sidestep any establishment by just throwing in a scene of some Injustice knockoff or whatever. That's probably going to underpin the rest of the show! So out of nowhere this conflict arises, and there's no way the League of Lois Lanes won't be involved in the resolution. That scares me.

I don't want Superman to be all about the Multiverse. The brushes with Alternate Supermans hadn't thus far transformed the franchise into that, but each time something like this happens I become wary. My Adventures With Superman was a nice simple show. For the first time in a long time we have a Superman I actually like, and I want to see where it goes. That simplicity is tarnished if a bunch of Alternate Universes get crammed into the first season of this show. Just let me have my cute Superman show, and stop chasing the Multiverse dragon. It's the least you could do after Man of Steel.

Sunday, August 13, 2023

Life In Plastic: A Barbie Marathon Part 7

Seven weeks ago I embarked on a quest, to see every Barbie movie ever made, to prepare for the live action film coming out soon. While in the preceding six articles I detailed my experience with each film, I haven't yet laid out my feelings on the Barbie series as a whole. That's what this is.

I made a tier list. Lists are dumb and I try to avoid them whenever possible, but I am nothing if not accommodating. (Keep in mind my standards are stupid and ever-changing.)

Barbie The Princess and the Pauper (2004)
Raquelle A Fairy Secret (2011)
Skipper and the Big Babysitting Adventure (2023)
BARBIE Barbie (2023)
The Secret Door (2014)
A Christmas Carol (2008)
The Nutcracker (2001)
Princess Charm School (2011)
The Pearl Princess (2014)
BARBI A Perfect Christmas (2011)
A Fashion Fairytale (2010)
Mariposa and Her Butterfly Fairy Friends (2008)
The Magic of Pegasus (2005)
Star Light Adventure (2016)
The Pink Shoes (2013)
Barbie & Her Sisters in A Pony Tale (2013)
The 12 Dancing Princesses (2006)
BARB The Three Musketeers (2009)
Epic Road Trip (2022)
Princess Power (2015)
A Mermaid Tale (2010)
Princess Adventure (2020)
BAR Fairytopia: Mermaidia (2006)
Swan Lake (2003)
Mariposa & The Fairy Princess (2013)
The Island Princess (2007)
Big City, Big Dreams (2021)
Rock 'N Royals (2015)
Dolphin Magic (2017)
BA The Diamond Castle (2008)
Fairytopia: Magic of the Rainbow (2007)
Barbie & Her Sisters in A Puppy Chase (2016)
Spy Squad (2016)
A Mermaid Tale 2 (2012)
Fairytopia (2005)
Chelsea: The Lost Birthday (2021)
Mermaid Power (2022)
B Rapunzel (2002)
Video Game Hero (2017)
Barbie & Her Sisters in The Great Puppy Adventure (2015)
Thumbelina (2009)
The Barbie Diaries (2006)
The Princess & The Popstar (2012)


Voice Actors

There were a lot more VAs for Barbie than I thought there would be! Kelly Sheridan is, of course, the legend. She's the OG, you can't do better. She set the standard, especially in films like Princess and the Pauper, where she managed to make the two Barbies distinct enough to tell apart. Diana Kaarina, though only with four film appearances, certainly made her mark as the second voice for our favorite doll. Even matching up against Sheridan, she gave notable performances, especially in A Perfect Christmas, adroitly conveying the subtleties of Barbie's relationship to her sisters. Next we have Erica Lindbeck. She was on board for five films, though I don't know if she made as much of a mark as I remember. She's kind of sandwiched between Sheridan and the newest VA, and she only had one movie I really liked. She's a great actress in other properties, I loved her in the Broly movie, but Barbie didn't use her to her fullest. Lastly we have the most current Barbie voice actress, America Young. There's no way that's her government name. Like that's what you might name a patriotic Barbie knockoff. Anyway. Her performance is pretty far afield from how Sheridan voiced the character. It's a more obviously young voice, even cracking sometimes. I might dislike that if Barbie was like her previous iterations, but with a complete change of cast and age for Barbie, the voice makes sense. I disliked it at first, coming after getting used to the Sheridan-type voices, but it's grown on me as the Dreamhouse Adventures version of the character did.

There's a couple actors who have been a main character in a Barbie movie without necessarily being a Barbie. What I mean is Chiara Zanni as Mariposa from the movie of the same name and Morwenna Banks from A Christmas Carol. I like both of their performances, Zanni as the unconfident Mariposa and Banks as the stuck-up diva Eden Starling. Both of them are good enough that they could have headlined another Barbie movie, though at least Zanni got cast as a supporting character again.


This one's all over the place. Early Barbie movies had orchestral scores, done by the London Symphony Orchestra or the Czech Philharmonic Chamber Orchestra. It's hard to go wrong with that, especially in the case of Nutcracker, given the time-tested nature of those tracks. In the middle things get a bit muddier, as the move away from orchestral music necessitated a digital approach, which took a while to find its legs.

As far as sing-songs go, the first musical did it best. Princess and the Pauper has a classic Broadway musical style for its lyrics and performance, which provides it a timelessness some others in this series don't. Diamond Castle started the trend of including a Main Song for each film, a little pop number that could play over the intro and credits. I'm not a huge fan of these as a concept, since the style always seems behind the times when you get to it. There were a few good tunes in there, like Queen of the Waves from A Mermaid Tale, that infuriatingly gets stuck in my head sometimes. Most of them are forgettable at best.


There were a few unexpected plots going through this series, but the majority of these are pretty boilerplate. Fairies, mermaids and princesses. You could count the number of movies without at least one of these elements on one hand. Typically if those aren't involved it's about Barbie herself. Not that any of these plot elements are bad, mind you. I really enjoyed a few that had these in abundance, like Princess and the Pauper or The Secret Door. There's really not that much variety when it comes to themes here, but I suppose that's another requirement of the Barbie ethos. Overwhelmingly the point of one of these movies is that you should be yourself. Sometimes the obstacle to that is a system that is unfriendly to you, other times it's a fact about yourself you reject. If the actual Barbie isn't the main character, that's essentially what you're going to see. They only dipped into more meaty subjects on this line a couple of times, with The Three Musketeers dealing with sexism, and Mariposa and the Fairy Princess clumsily discussing racism. These aren't unworthy subjects to cover, but something about Barbie movies makes them ill-equipped to handle these very well. I don't know if it's because they're aimed at younger kids or if they just had restrictive brand requirements, but neither one of the more progressive messages come across very well, with one minor exception. In Princess and the Pauper and Princess Charm School, there's a little bit about economic class that's unusual for Barbie's oeuvre. It's not a lot, but having a main character grow up poor and then deal with princesses was more effective than other attempts at that sort of thing.

The Barbie & Her Sisters plots tend to have a bit more going on with them, usually foregoing the fantasy elements and ending up a bit more grounded. The family dynamic is the focus, and with the sisters being different ages, they could include arcs relevant to different ages of kids at the same time. A theme I really didn't see coming is a sort of parental anxiety from Barbie when it comes to her sisters. In Perfect Christmas and A Puppy Chase their vacation goes awry and Barbie blames herself for not being able to fix it. It's weird for a kids movie to make the main character an ersatz parent with applicable problems. That's the stuff that really caught me off-guard while watching, even if some of it was interspersed with stupid puppy bullshit.

Wrapping up

There's not a lot of media franchises that can compete with Barbie. The doll line alone has an impressive legacy, and that's not counting the cartoons, animated films, and finally a live action movie. Sure, one could say the same thing about Transformers, but there's something special about Barbie you don't find in other toy-driven series. There's a versatility to the brand that keeps it going, so there's always a chance you'll see something you didn't expect. Any given Transformers property will hew closely to a pre-established story, but a Barbie movie can range from a grounded musical about a princess to a sci-fi story about the fate of the stars. I think that's why it took so long for a live action film to get made; in a comic book story you can adapt one of the long-running stories, but with Barbie there's so much potential, picking something to adapt is almost impossible. G.I. Joe can never have the same cultural cache, each generation remembers their own Barbie.

I started this project as a big joke, and to be fair a lot of it is still that, but the adage holds true: The longer you perform a joke, the more sincere it's going to become. There's a lot of this that simply will never affect me the way it would a young girl, but you can't watch over 42 hours of something without taking a little with you. There's plenty of bad in there, don't get me wrong, but I still listen to the Secret Door or Princess and the Pauper soundtracks from time to time. I've learned a lot, and the most important part is that I will never have to watch another Barbie movie again as long as I live.

Who am I kidding. I'm in too deep to stop now. When's that Stacie movie coming out?

Saturday, July 22, 2023

Barbie (2023)

You would think, being a guy that watched all 42 direct-to-video/streaming Barbie movies, that it would be easy to figure out what to say about the live action one, the one I did all that work for. Somehow, it's not.

Our hero is Barbie, or to be more specific, Stereotypical Barbie. She lives in Barbie Land with the rest of the Barbies, a bunch of Kens, one Midge, one Skipper, and one Allen. (Ken's friend (all of Ken's clothes fit him)) But one day, things start getting weird. Barbie has thoughts about death, she doesn't gracefully float from her dreamhouse to the car, and worst of all: Her feet turn flat. After consulting with Weird Barbie (the one that happens when you play with your Barbie too hard) she sets out on a quest to the real world, while Ken tags along.

In a way, this is what I expected from a live action Barbie movie, at least after seeing a few trailers. It's got a little bit of the "Barbie is outdated, Barbie has done more harm than good for women, Barbie is bad" stuff I was afraid of but, luckily for all of us, that's not the point. I don't know if I could call this a celebration of Barbie either. It's not so much about the character as it is about the doll. And it's less about the doll than it's about... being a woman.

Okay listen I could watch a million Barbie movies and it wouldn't qualify me to talk about this. It's simply out of my wheelhouse! I liked the feminist angle, but I can't really form any substantive critiques because I am not embodied in the subject matter. I can't be one of those guys that starts explaining feminism to anyone! I'm just a normal man. I'm just an innocent man.

Speaking of which, Ken was great. I relate to Ken, which was funny until it got sad. For me, specifically. He's a big part of the comedy, because he's a giant idiot the whole time. It's a good look for a Ken. All of the Kens are big idiots, and that's great. The preview of the song "Just Ken" made me excited that this could be a musical, but it's not. It's got a couple songs but the only one that's like musical theater is the Ken one. There's one by Billie Eilish that hits hard.

I really didn't need to watch all those movies for this one. I'm glad I did, but they didn't provide much in the way of context or easter eggs. If anything this is closest to Life in the Dreamhouse, what with the Barbie is Everything sort of stuff, but this is far more self-examining than that show was, since that was a funny cartoon for goofs. There's a lot going on in this film, it's surprisingly poignant given how goofy most of it is. One thing the film does is anticipate the reception from the more reactionary parts of the viewing public, and preemptively responds to those ideas. Like, the obvious surface-level critiques are practically a part of the movie. It was more instructive to someone like me, whereas it's more likely supposed to give voice to already-held sentiment for its audience, but the whole reason I watch this Barbie stuff is to get an idea of how the other half lives. (That's definitely the only reason.)

I could get into spoilers but I'll restrain myself. Suffice it to say: It's good. People who aren't me (and are women) will like it a lot more than I do. It's not made for me! In fact, this movie purposefully avoided one of those things I fixated on in the old Barbie movies. (Not Raquelle.) Oh, and there was no Raquelle. It wouldn't have made any sense for her to be there, but there's still a little disappointment. Maybe later they'll make a Raquelle live action movie and I will watch it 100 times.

If you're expecting nothing but a happy fun-time romp, you'll get more than you bargained for. I don't know if this would be the "palate cleanser" the Barbenheimer advocates are reaching for. If you want something with a bunch of funny jokes and some feminism that I'm not qualified to speak on, you'll enjoy this. There's some deeper themes in there, but maybe I can speak on those once it's been out on video and I can watch it a few times. I just have to accept the fact that this won't hit deep in my soul the way a Broly movie would. I still highly recommend it, even if it didn't personally resonate with me the way it would with others. It's got a lot to say about womanhood, society, and the overall human condition. In a way, this embodies the Barbie ethos: Just because it's unabashedly pink and feminine, doesn't mean you shouldn't take it seriously. It means a lot to a lot of people, and you can either accept that or choose to live in ignorance.


Sunday, July 9, 2023

Life In Plastic: A Barbie Marathon Part 6

It's hard, being a pioneer. To be willing to do what nobody else can. I bet people said all kinds of shit to the first guy to climb Mount Everest. They probably said stuff like, "Why?" and "But that's for little girls," and "You're a grown man this is weird." But now I know exactly how he felt, after weeks of grueling work, feeling like it was all pointless and maybe he should have been watching Breaking Bad or something, only to see the summit, the pinnacle, the top of the world. It doesn't matter if nobody believes in you, nor think other people need to believe in you because what you're doing is inconsequential and kind of creepy. Because that summit is only a few steps away.

And I am almost there.

Film 36: Barbie: Dolphin Magic (2017)

So turns out Video Game Hero was the last Barbie movie to come out as a straight-to-DVD, and now they're all going to Netflix. So we have what I think is another iteration of the "Real Life" Barbie and her sisters. Maybe? The designs are pretty close to the Puppy movies, and the puppies are still there, not to mention we still got Erica Lindbeck voicing Barbie. I dunno. It's another mermaid flick, this time some evil marine biologist captures a magic dolphin and its mermaid friend tries to free it and runs into the Roberts sisters, who adopt her like some kind of lost child. Of course the mermaid has a magic shell that gives her legs, though she doesn't know what a sandwich is, which doesn't trigger suspicion for any of the sisters. Oh, we finally have Ken back, after who knows how many movies of absence. (I counted. 16 films.) Ken doesn't really seem like Barbie's boyfriend here, which may point to it being a new continuity. It's pretty boilerplate from there, evil marine biologist wants to sell magic dolphin, mermaid reveals she is mermaid, they all work together and everything works out. It's not great, but it could have been worse. At least the dogs don't talk, and surprisingly Barbie herself doesn't become a mermaid.


Film 37: Barbie: Princess Adventure (2020)

Woah! What!? That's a three year gap! This is unprecedented! So I had to do some research (I hate that) to figure this out, and it turns out there were no Barbie movies while the show Barbie Dreamhouse Adventures was running. I haven't watched that show because I got an episode in and there was no Raquelle so I have no reason to ever see it. So this movie is like a finale to that show, which means we got a new voice actress for Barbie, America Young. She's okay, but gives a very different feel to Barbie than the previous ones, which all had the same sort of voice. She's closer to Chiara Zanni than Kelly Sheridan or Diana Kaarina. The change in VA makes sense because this Barbie is significantly younger than a lot of Barbies we've had, she's still in high school and has parents and everything. She's also a Youtuber. This is too much background for a Barbie movie. At any rate, this is another riff on the Prince and the Pauper, but at least this one didn't insult me. Erica Lindbeck plays a princess who watches Barbie's vlogs and arranges for Barbie and all of her friends to go on a school trip to her kingdom so they can swap. It doesn't work great because we don't see her perspective of the switch the whole time, just Barbie dealing with princess shit. This one is also a musical, but all the songs are average at best. We got two villains, one is a media CEO who wants to exploit Barbie's online clout, and the other is a prince from a neighboring kingdom who tries to keep the princess from the coronation so he can take the kingdom using some technicality. The only time I laughed was when the media CEO took one of Barbie's videos and essentially made a YTP from it. Barbie didn't like it though. There's a sideplot of Ken trying to tell Barbie something but being unable to. He's definitely not her boyfriend in this continuity, so I assume he's trying to confess his feelings. If the whole show was a will-they-won't-they with Barbie and Ken there is no way I would be able to stand it. There's too many other side characters, like some asshole red haired guy who they gave a song for some inexplicable reason. A pale comparison to Princess and the Pauper, but it wasn't as bad as it could have been.


Film 38: Barbie & Chelsea: The Lost Birthday (2021)

Yeah, from now on these all take place after Dreamhouse Adventures. I guess it's nice to have only one continuity for once? I'll get into it later. As you can see from the title, this is a Chelsea oriented movie, which can mean only one thing. This is baby shit. They're all on a cruise because of Barbie's mom and it's gonna be Chelsea's birthday but then they cross the international date line and skip a day and she gets sad and has a Wizard of Oz style adventure where she does a bunch of shit with talking animals that sound like her sisters but oh what it was all a dream who could have guessed. Okay, for a while I didn't catch the dream thing. I don't know the level of magic that exists in this world, maybe there are talking animals, who knows? Barbie is still on about her vlog all the time, but now that leaves Skipper without a thing to do. She's supposed to be the internet one! I guess now she just makes music. It was better before. The closest thing to a villain in this movie is the activities director on the cruise, who for some reason is actively malicious towards the Roberts family. It's not even funny, he's just creepy.


Film 39: Barbie: Big City, Big Dreams (2021)

Barbie's going to New York, baby! This is a weird one. Barbie goes to some performing arts school for the summer, where she's put in a room with another girl who is also named Barbie Roberts. The other Barbie is from Brooklyn, while our Barbie is from Malibu, so they refer to each other as such. Weird that middle names didn't come into this, but I guess nobody wanted the main character of the film to be called Millicent the whole time. The two Barbies become best friends immediately. Like, right after they meet they sing a song (which sounds a bit like a love song) and they're inseparable. They meet one of Brooklyn's old friends who's actually a super famous pop star but wants to learn more shit on the down low, but then her manager dad buys his way into directing the center and wants to make sure his daughter wins the solo at the end of the semester. They have the whole "Barbie is bad at things" montage that we got in Princess Charm School, but in this movie it's weird. This is the actual Barbie we're talking about, not some character she's playing. They're making her a more relatable figure, but to me Barbie should be more aspirational. Think Spider-Man vs. Superman. Spider-Man fucks up all the time, but it makes you feel like you could be him, while Superman is the idealized hero, he does the right thing all the time. On that note, while they're all dancing and being silly, Malibu Barbie knocks Brooklyn Barbie off a stage and she sprains her ankle, and Manager Dad tells the principal that Malibu did it on purpose, so she gets expelled and the two Barbies sing a breakup song. Luckily the pop star finds a video that shows it was an accident so Malibu comes back and both Barbies get the to sing a big song in Times Square. Manager Dad faces no repercussions. Brooklyn's gonna be in the rest of these, and they even got a whole teevee show that I'm not going to watch. (I'M NOT YOU CAN'T MAKE ME) I'm not sure how I feel about her. She's not a one-to-one copy of Malibu Barbie, like she's not hypercompetent in all skills or anything, she's almost entirely music-focused. I dunno, I just like it better when I can use names and don't have to put prefixes before them. There's probably someone out there who's really happy about Brooklyn Barbie and I can't hold that against them.


Film 40: Barbie: Mermaid Power (2022)

This is a sequel to Dolphin Magic, which I guess means that one had Dreamhouse Adventures Barbie all along. You would think that this, being a sequel, would make more sense while having less to introduce, but somehow they fucked that up. Right in the beginning of the movie Barbies and sisters are cleaning trash from the ocean and like a minute later they're all turning into mermaids. As if they all knew they could do that with Barbie's magic necklace already! Don't get me started on Mermaid Town where they have to do a magic ritual like in that Fairytopia movie or Mermaid Tale 2 but in order to do it they have to find the Mermaid Avatar. For some reason every mermaid has an elemental power, even the Barbie crew who just became mermaids like 5 seconds ago, except for one who gets all of them, and then they can do the mermaid ritual and save the ocean. The evil marine biologist is back, this time with a Mr. Crocker-like obsession with proving mermaids are real, and a badass crab sub. This movie has too much going on. It's gotta introduce the entire mermaid society, their magic powers, then there's racist mermaids who hate land dwellers, and to top it all off there's a giant trash heap in the ocean. Once again there's a million characters in this thing, all throwing fire underwater(?) or shooting air or talking to dolphins and I can't care enough to keep track of it all. Anyway there's a little girl mermaid who turns out to be the Avatar and she disintegrates the trash island and evil marine biologist becomes a mermaid and turns into a good guy. This showcases one of the problems with maintaining one continuity with these things, if this were made before the Netflix era, I'm sure it would have been a standalone film with Barbie playing a character. Instead they had to shoehorn the Roberts sisters into this plot and world all at once and it just kept throwing shit at you. One of the things that made the Barbie franchise so versatile was its ability to have unrelated movies, even if they all had the Barbie branding. I hope they move back towards that model with later releases.


Film 41: Barbie: Epic Road Trip (2022)

The only cool thing about Netflix is that once in a while they make a Choose-Your-Own-Adventure style thing, like that one Black Mirror special from a few years ago. I mostly like them if there's a way I can just fuck up the story, though a lot of these are on rails pretty hard. Surprise surprise, they made a Barbie one! Malibu Barbie, Brooklyn Barbie, Skipper, Ken, and a bunch of dogs are taking a road trip across the US to test out Skipper's dog adoption app, see the sights, and get to NYC for some backup singer audition. A lot of choices boil down to choosing between Brooklyn or Ken, because Ken still hasn't confessed his feelings to Barbie. Now, I know they didn't intend this, but it feels like choosing Barbie's romantic partner. I, of course, immediately speedran Ken% because I need to get my boy laid. I was the heteronormative devil on Barbie's shoulder, making her go to every little romantic spot Ken set up until they kissed on the Ferris Wheel in Pennsylvania and I cherished the small morsel of vicarious romantic fulfillment in my cold dead heart. Apart from the endings where it asks you to start from the beginning, there's a smattering of choices that set you just a little bit back in the story, like in Roswell they can be abducted by aliens which deposit them back at the beach in the beginning of the movie but with no memory of what happened before that. Or a haunted house in New Orleans that opens and trap door and sends them back a few scenes. My first ending was Brooklyn and Malibu move to New York with musical artist careers, while Boyfriend Ken moves to be with Malibu Barbie and be a malewife. I ran through it a few more times for completion's sake, where Brooklyn and Malibu live alone in London with a record deal, or one where Barbie goes back to Malibu without a job, Ken, or anything to show for the road trip. The multiple nature of this kinda works for Barbie, since she's yet to become her omni-talented self, it makes sense not to lock her down as a singer or whatever. I liked it more than I thought I would, if only because I could act as a spiritual wingman for Ken.


Film 42: Barbie: Skipper and the Big Babysitting Adventure (2023)

I wasn't expecting a lot from this film, especially considering how the Chelsea one went down. The babysitting angle and the fact this began with a 2D animated segment that looked like cheap PBS anime didn't help either. But this film had a crucial component I couldn't even have imagined. THEY BROUGHT BACK RAQUELLE!! Well, kinda. Turns out the show has a character named Tammy who, as far as I can tell, is Raquelle with a different name. She's bitchy, entitled, rich, and a failqueen. Also she's got black hair and calls Skipper Mini-Barbie. I was completely blindsided, I thought they just weren't interested in the Raquelle archetype anymore, but here she was! (Mostly) She may have been reincarnated, but I know whatever lives we live we would find each other again... Ahem. So Skipper fucks up her babysitting job and since everyone else is leaving for the summer (Barbie finally being the Barbie I know and planting trees in the Amazon) Skipper decides to work at the local waterpark. But! Turns out Tammy's dad owns the place and put her in charge. Tammy's dad is great, he's the stereotypical businessman, talking on four phones all the time and rating any possible situation on whether it's good for business or not. The funniest joke in this movie is when he sees a pie chart, imagines it as pie, and leaves in the middle of a business proposal so he can go get some pie. He's a legend. Anyway Skipper and some friends get hired because nobody else wants to work for Tammy, and Skipper gets the idea to set up a daycare for little kids in the park. After Tammy tries to steal the idea and fucks up (As she should) Skipper and her friends have a little odyssey trying to get 6 kids back to the park without anyone catching wise. This was way funnier than any recent film has been, like the part where Skipper talks to dolphins by pointing her eyes in opposite directions and screeching, and the only reaction to this from her friends is, "Wow, she is a good babysitter." I think they're finally hitting their stride with this Barbie, which was a nice endcap to my own odyssey across the Barbie-verse.

Rating: Raquelle/BARBIE

(But really like a 5 out of 6)

I... I did it! I watched every single Barbie movie! There were a lot of surprising moments going through this, I liked a lot more of them a lot more than I thought I would. Sure, there were plenty that fit the Barbie stereotype I had in my head, but the spikes in quality were very appreciated. Given the breadth of content here, I'm not actually sure any of this will give me insight to the live action movie coming up. But if there's one thing I've learned through all of this, it's that you can be whatever you want to be. Apparently what I wanted to be was a man in his thirties who watched the entirety of a franchise made for little girls. Thank you for following me on this journey, and hopefully I'll do something less insane next time. Come back for a little denouement later!

Sunday, July 2, 2023

Life In Plastic: A Barbie Marathon Part 5

History repeats itself, doesn't it? Second week in I was locked in my house because the air outside was killing my lungs, and five weeks in I'm right back there. Things sure do seem bad, right? I hear there's widespread riots in France, but what with twitter down and me coughing my lungs out I don't have a good grasp of the world around me. However, like Nero before me, I am devoting myself to pointless frivolity while all I knew begins to collapse. Let's get back into it.

Film 29: Barbie in Princess Power (2015)

Oh shit! This is the first Barbie movie I had ever seen! I even wrote about it in what would become a short-lived staple of this stupid blog. I was honestly pretty curious if my opinion would change after watching over two dozen Barbie movies before this rewatch. My feelings are complicated. On the one hand, to make a Barbie superhero movie is way out of left field considering the plots they've used so far, which were all fantasy stories that involved mermaids and fairies. I didn't really realize how far out of the ordinary this was when I first saw it, but now I can see they were going places. Not necessarily great places. The character designs are all kinda bad. Background design has gotten way worse than the heights of Secret Door, like the trees and buildings and whatnot all look pretty lazily rendered. The villain is more annoying than anything, especially since this is a rare example of a Villainous Bibble, with his stupid frog that I hate. The actress that voiced Raquelle in previous movies, Britt Irvin, voices Barbie's mean cousin, who eventually becomes another superhero. I am duty bound to inform you that I love Dark Sparkle. I had a really hard time figuring out where I fall on this one, the novelty of a Dragon Ball fight in a Barbie movie was somewhat dampened by the appearance of like 5 superpowered pets.


Film 30: Barbie in Rock 'N Royals (2015)

I was worried I had another Princess and the Popstar on my hands here, but luckily it's not nearly that bad. This is a world where princesses and successful musical artists each have their own summer camp, and by wild coincidence these two summer camps are on either side of the same lake. Why would musicians (some of whom already have successful careers) need a summer camp? Why would princesses? But anyway one princess and one rockstar accidentally go to the other's camp and then the camp owners make a bet about who will win a sing-off and the loser cedes their land to the other camp. So the campgoers find out and work together yadda yadda. I feel a bit insulted here, they got Chiara Zanni to play the musical artist, but they couldn't get her back for Mariposa?? HOW DARE YOU. There's songs in this but it's not really a musical. It could have been worse.


Film 31: Barbie & Her Sisters in The Great Puppy Adventure (2015)

Barbie movies are a series of baits and switches. They lure you in with two good movies about Barbie and her sisters and then just as you think you know what level of quality you should expect you get this bullshit. This doesn't seem like it's from the same continuity as the previous two Barbie & Her Sisters movies. All the character designs have changed, presumably to match up with some Barbie Vlogs that I am not going to watch you can't make me. Everyone looks... younger. Which raises the Parent Question again. Why is Barbie bringing her sisters to see their grandma without their parents? How old is Barbie, exactly? She's old enough to drive, but now it's not clear if she's making a living by herself or what. At any rate they're all going back to their hometown of Willows, Wisconsin, where Grandma Roberts gives them a bunch of puppies, thus ruining this movie forever. Does anyone else remember that time in the 00's where a rash of talking puppies movies came out? Direct-to-DVD stuff like Air Buddies were everywhere, you couldn't escape them. Well someone at Barbie Entertainment looked upon that era with wistfulness and a decade later put that in their goddamn Barbie movie. Sure the sisters are trying to find some treasure, but then we have to follow around some cutesy dogs and their cutesy voices misinterpreting stuff and being annoying. Oh, the town has fallen on hard times? Too bad, look at these dogs fall down. There's a secret cavern under the town full of gold and jewels? Fuck that, this stupid dog needs to learn to believe in itself. Easily the worst talking animal movie yet.


Film 32: Barbie: Spy Squad (2016)

Did someone on the Barbie staff just come out of a 10 year long coma? Why else would they make a Totally Spies ripoff almost 10 years after it ended? This is supposed to be another "Real Life" movie, though with the new designs debuted in Puppy Adventure, and now Barbie has a new friend named Renee. But yeah, it's Totally Spies. The three girls become "spies" for some nebulous agency, use girl-themed gadgets and try to stop some jewel thief. The thief is obnoxious, though not as bad as the tech guy who looks like Scott the Woz and has a crush on Teresa and won't fucking shut up about it. We've changed VA's for Barbie again, now instead of Kelly Sheridan we have Erica Lindbeck. She's a good actress, but I think the direction in this movie hampers her talents where other work of hers showcased them more. A weird thing is that this movie teaches the Visualization therapeutic technique to deal with stressful situations. Like, an actual thing therapists teach. I don't think any other Barbie movies have done something like this. I guess it gets points for that, but loses points on everything else.


Film 33: Barbie: Star Light Adventure (2016)

Barbie Sci-Fi! Because of that it's another one I wrote about before. This is the first time I saw a Barbie movie and went "Oh huh I guess Barbie movies can be good." It's a pretty solid film, the production design is really good here, especially the night skies with stars, nebulae, and planets all around. I guess they would have to be, since this movie is about the stars going out. The Space King thinks he's gonna fix it so he hires a bunch of Radical Teens to help him get to the center of the galaxy, but then he can't and Barbie fixes everything by dancing or something. This almost has a Barbie X-Men team, where all the team members are aliens with different abilities, like gravity manipulation or super speed. Barbie even has telekinesis. I could probably write a long pretentious article about how this movie explores the failure of authoritarian rule to cope with disaster while spontaneous humanity holds the solutions, but that's for another time.


Film 34: Barbie & Her Sisters in A Puppy Chase (2016)

Have you ever been on a really bad vacation as a kid? One where everything seemed to fuck up and you couldn't do any of the stuff you wanted? You might have been angry at your parents and blamed them for the poor time. But as you get older, you think back on it and realize your parents were dealing with a bunch of shit themselves, and the anger evolves into something more complex. The sympathy and sadness you feel now makes the memories harder to deal with. You feel bad about how you acted when your parents were doing their best. Okay stop thinking about that now and look at some dumb goddamn puppies. In the second Puppy movie the sisters go to what I assume is Hawaii, though they only ever call it "The Island" for some reason. Shit goes haywire and they lose the puppies but Chelsea has to get to her dance contest! Barbie is surprisingly incompetent in this movie, like all the things she does lead to more misfortune. There's almost a poignant moment where she reveals she hadn't known what to do any more than her sisters, but she kept up an optimistic facade so they wouldn't give up. But then we have talking puppies and a couple talking horses and the talking poodle and you get my drift. This one has another therapeutic technique to deal with anxiety, where you seriously consider what would happen in the best and worse case scenario of a given situation and how you would deal with each. I just get taken out of anything meaningful when we have Paw Patrol-ass dialogue and surfing puppies. It seems like it's going for a Little Miss Sunshine type of ending, where Chelsea's dance performance, joined by her sisters, the puppies, the horses etc., loses the competition, but she learns that trying your best is the real reward. But no! She breaks the rules with all that other bullshit but still pulls out a win! That's not a lesson! That's just pandering!


Film 35: Barbie: Video Game Hero (2017)

The last Barbie movie I'd already seen before starting this whole project, I think actually forgot most of this one. And, watching it again, it was for good reason. This one is a mess. I'm supposed to believe Barbie (the actual Barbie, not a role she is playing) is some kinda Alpha Gamer and programmer, with the easily distinguishable line between those two roles made blurry in this film. The scene starts with Barbie playing a game with her friends, but then she starts coding the game while they're playing it? And she made that game? Later she gets sucked into a tablet and a cloud tells her she has to win the game to kill some evil emojis. Let's get one thing straight: This game doesn't make a single bit of sense. Level 1 is a race. That's fine, sure. Level 2 is Bejeweled. Huh? The artstyle even changes. Level 3 is Minecraft. Who made this game?? When I beat a race, I would like to do more races, not be shoved into some Roblox looking shit! All the characters are annoying. The only real life game mentioned in this movie is Just Dance, along with the most annoying song I've ever heard, some chihuahua song with barking that I found honestly difficult to get through. Once again our protagonist wins by cheating, though if they're honestly competing in Just Dance I don't think the competition was very rigorous to begin with. This movie ends with a music video for that terrible song and I will hate this movie until I die. (If you have watched the Emoji movie you may notice how they ripped off this one. Fun fact.)


Things are looking pretty dire, folks. A noticeable downgrade from last week, only one movie even cracked five on my incredibly biased rating scale. No matter, Week Five is done! We're in the home stretch! Soon I will be able to watch something that isn't Barbie! I will know all! I WILL BE THE MASTER OF BARBIE NONE SHALL CHALLENGE ME ON MY HOT PINK THRONE! BEAR WITNESS!

Sunday, June 25, 2023

Life In Plastic: A Barbie Marathon Part 4

I arrive at work on a Monday morning. My coworkers are talking about sports, camping, all the usual guy stuff.

"What did you do this weekend?" asks one of my coworkers.

"Oh, uh." I stammer, "Just, watched movies."

"That's cool, man. I was camping with the boys. What did you watch?"

I begin to sweat. I cannot think of anything but Barbie.

Film 22: Barbie in A Mermaid Tale 2 (2012)

Oh goody. A sequel to a Mermaid Tale. This was the Fairytopia: Magic of the Rainbow of Barbie Mermaid movies. The fact that I not only understand, but wrote that phrase scares me a little. The mermaids gotta do some ritual bullshit to save the ocean but there's an Australian surfer chick who gets roped into letting the evil bitch out from the last movie and blah blah blah. The Australian chick wasn't bitchy enough for me, she gets too nice too quick. The mermaid witch had some spell that made people experience their worst nightmare, and I thought people would overcome it by conquering their fear or something but it just goes away when Barbie does the ocean magic thing. Eh.


Film 23: Barbie: The Princess and the Popstar (2012)

Okay this one actually pissed me off. I knew they were gonna do another riff on Prince and the Pauper, but this is just insulting. As you all know, Princess and the Pauper is a perfect movie and the standard by which I judge any other Barbie movie. The songs were good, the plot made sense, I liked the characters, it had everything. This one was dumb. The reason a Prince and the Pauper story works is because of the gap in privilege between the two people, if they're both rich girls who have a comparable slew of responsibilities to maintain it then there's not much point in switching them. The songs suck too, they cover "Girls Just Want To Have Fun" by Cyndi Lauper, but change it to "Princesses Want to Have Fun" then they cover "Perfect Day" from Legally Blonde like three different times. Those are bad enough. BUT THEN. THEN!!! THEY COVER "To Be a Princess" FROM PRINCESS AND THE PAUPER AND THEY RUIN IT!!! Pauper had the charm of a stage musical, this is overproduced pop garbage. The villain can't hold a candle to Martin Short, he doesn't even have anything to do with our leads until he steals the magical diamond bush from the secret garden of the castle in the last 20 minutes of the movie but it's fine because they stop him and grow another diamond bush and WHO GIVES A SHIT FUCK THIS


Film 24: Barbie in The Pink Shoes (2013)

Another ballet movie! We haven't had one of those in a long time. I think Swan Lake was the last one, since strictly speaking 12 Dancing Princesses was just a dancing movie, not ballet. The motion capture for dancing has gotten way better than it was, when characters are choreographed the same there's little variations so they don't just look like soulless robots following the same command. So Barbie's in a ballet... studio(?) and there's some big recital but Barbie keeps going off-step and freestyling, which is bad. Then her and her nerdy costumer friend get transported to Ballet World when Barbie puts on the eponymous shoes. There's like, four ballets referenced in there, Giselle, Nutcracker, Swan Lake, and The Snow Queen. They kinda traipse their way through some of these plots and change shit, which the Snow Queen don't like, but then Barbie beats her at the end because she can just dance too good. I don't really get the end. Barbie ends up freestyling at the recital but suddenly now it's a good thing? The only thing that changed after she went to Ballet-Verse was the mean ballet girl was suddenly nice to her after. Still, this might be the classiest Barbie movie since Nutcracker.


Film 25: Barbie: Mariposa & The Fairy Princess (2013)

Is it just me or are they running out of ideas? A sequel to a previous movie isn't unheard of with Barbie, but then they did the same plot again with Princess and the Popstar, and now they're doing a sequel five years after the last one. I had some high hopes for this one, given how unexpectedly good Mariposa was, which as always with Barbie movies was a mistake. For the first time I wish Kelly Sheridan hadn't voiced the main character, since the first Mariposa had Chiara Zanni as main VA, and she had a great performance. Getting Sheridan for this one seems like filing off the edges to me. Not only did they bring back Sheridan, they GAVE MARIPOSA A FUCKING BIBBLE. I HATE BIBBLE SO MUCH. I WANT TO CRUSH BIBBLE IN A HYDRAULIC PRESS. BIBBLE SHOULD BE SENT BACK IN TIME TO 1692 SALEM AND TRIED AS A WITCH. The stupid thing isn't the same Bibble, it's just the same creature, an ostensibly cute annoying creature that sort of talks in obnoxious gibberish. Anything like that is a Bibble. Baby Yoda, for example, is a Bibble. In this one the queen sends Mariposa to the Crystal Fairy Kingdom as an ambassador, because for some reason they have hated each other for a long time but relations are possible again. Now this is what we in the biz call a Racism Movie. It follows a really boring structure. Fairy King says something racist, Bibble and Bad Bibble do something annoying, then Mariposa fucks up and knocks shit over with her wings and the king gets all mad. You really can't make an entertaining movie for kids when the message is something as tangible as "Racism is bad." It's too concrete a thing and you really gotta hammer it in so kids don't somehow think being a racist is great. If the message is, like, "Believe in yourself" you got a lot more leeway for story. Now I don't usually get in on this, but it seemed like Mariposa and the Crystal Princess might have been in Lesbians, even though the prince back home with a Burning Latin Passion was sweet on her. I will never check because I have already gone too far, but I feel like there could have been Edward or Jacob level shipping wars over this back in the day. The last thing that bothered me is that at the end, Mariposa magically gets different wings, when that's exactly what happened at the end of the other Mariposa movie. I get toys and all that, but does she really need to get new wings every time she accomplishes a task? It's like if I got a new hairdo every time I finished one of these articles.


Film 26: Barbie & Her Sisters in A Pony Tale (2013)

Okay I get the pun but there's only one pony in this movie, it's really about horses. You might not know this about me, but I don't like horses. Nothing made up of a ton of muscle with a brain the size of a walnut can be trusted. If a horse wanted me dead, there is not a single thing I could do to stop it. Sure, the same can be said about bears, but ain't nobody making movies about how cute bears are and how we should just ride them around! Unfortunately, this one is actually pretty good. This one is set in Real Life again, where the Roberts family goes to their aunt's horse school in Switzerland and they gotta win the big horse competition or the school will be closed down. That doesn't matter so much as the mythical wild horse that Barbie finds. There's a nice 2D animated section where a French guy tells Barbie the Horse Legend, and I was primed to believe these were stupid magical horses, especially since the French guy's evil brother, Napoleon, is trying to get the horses for himself. Turns out, it's just a really fucking fast horse. Barbie uses it to win the race at the end, but I feel like there's gotta be a rule against bringing a wild horse to a race. I ain't no horse guy. At any rate the dynamic between the Roberts sisters is just as good as A Perfect Christmas, which is nice to see.


Film 27: Barbie: The Pearl Princess (2014)

What I want to say here is "Oh great another mermaid movie woohoo," but there really haven't been that many mermaid ones in comparison to the fairy ones. And I hate to say it, but this one was pretty good. It's got the same "Barbie is a secret princess" angle also used in Rapunzel, Island Princess, A Mermaid Tale, and Princess Charm School. Only this time her caretaker was hired to poison Barbie as a baby but couldn't bear to do it, so the poison lady raised Barbie secretly to protect her from the queen's brother who covets the throne. Meanwhile that brother wants to poison the king and set up his own son as the new monarch. Only problem is that the king's nephew is a fucking nerd and all he cares about are plants. He's great, give him a movie. Oh, and Barbie has the magic power to control pearls, which is apparently a part of the royal bloodline. So the plan gets stopped and Barbie becomes princess. The Evil Brother has an eel henchman that sounds like Peter Lorre, and he's really expressive and fun to watch. The bad guy's number two has a lot to do with whether I find a movie annoying or not. You got a good one in there and it's a lot of points. There's also a hairdresser mermaid who has a New Jersey accent, and I love her.


Film 28: Barbie and the Secret Door (2014)

SECRET DOOR SECRET DOOR SECRET DOOR SECRET DOOR SECRET DOOR. At first this one seemed pretty unremarkable, Barbie is a princess with social anxiety who would rather read than be around people, until a book her grandmother gives her opens up a door to some Narnia/Wonderland and Barbie has to save all the fairies, mermaids, and unicorns, but it's a bunch of little things that raise it up. The animations are really snappy and expressive, especially the facial animations. Sure, there's some bouncing gopher things I find terrifying, but there's a few other creature designs I quite like. Against all odds, they made another musical I don't hate! It's no Princess and the Pauper, but the songs drive the plot forward and aren't grating. It's got a comedic dumb character, which as you know is the cornerstone of good comedy. Most importantly: The villain is an evil little girl princess, and she gets a villain song which is easily the best song of the movie. She's got a Darla Dimple vibe, and that's just good filmmaking. The world design, though admittedly oversaturated, is strong, probably the best since Mariposa. It's a charming movie, though it made me wonder when the trend of Barbie getting a new magical dress at the end of the movie started. It seems to at least have been the last few. Whatever, I'm not going back and checking.


Oh shit that's two 6's in a row. I thought the golden age was past when a second Mariposa showed up, but this week finished strong. I didn't expect there to be quality films this far down the line. Yeah, we got a lot of stinkers before, but given that I was aware of Barbie movies shortly after these came out, I thought they would mostly be trash. Speaking of which next week has the Barbie movies I've actually seen before! That will be the real test if immersing myself exclusively in Barbie media is affecting my brain and possibly giving me a B shaped tumor on my hypothalamus. We'll see next time!

Monday, June 19, 2023

Life In Plastic: A Barbie Marathon Part 3

I haven't been out of the house for a while. A friend invited me out to a bar for wing night. I accepted.

"How's it going?" he asked.

"Barbie movies." I replied.


"I hate Bibble." I blurted out. "I want to throw Bibble off a cliff."

He looked at me for a long, withering moment.


Film 15: Barbie Presents: Thumbelina (2009)

I'm beginning to think watching a Barbie movie every day for six weeks is not a sustainable pace. There's only so much Barbie one grown man can watch before things start deteriorating. It certainly don't help when this is the shit they're serving. It's another with a framing device, Barbie telling this story to Kelly (Not yet Chelsea) about plants or something. Now I ain't no Thumbelina expert, but from my recollection she's supposed to be from like, normal people and her name is because she's as big as a thumb. Well in this Thumbelina is part of a race of teeny tiny people like the Borrowers, except they also have plant growing powers? That's like naming a normal girl Thumbelina! It don't make sense! They should have just been fairies. Thumbelina and her friends even make wings out of leaves they use to fly around the whole movie. They're just fairies! Not to mention the plot is just some Ferngully shit. Thumbelina has to teach this little rich girl empathy so her parents don't bulldoze the tiny people's home and put up a bullshit factory. This is the first Barbie movie to have cellphones and stuff in it, it's jarring after all the fantasy stuff. I found everyone annoying. This is for babies, and I'm not a baby. I'm an adult man who watches Barbie movies.


Film 16: Barbie and the Three Musketeers (2009)

Now, this might be me losing my mind from the strictly Barbie media diet and all, but this film felt like a fever dream. This is the first Barbie movie to have, like, actual sexism in it. Everyone's all "Girls can't be Musketeers!" and so Barbie becomes a cleaning lady at the castle instead, and it turns out all her coworkers want to be Musketeers. Then it turns out the old lady who works cleaning the castle has like, a secret Musketeer training room, and also has the skills of a Musketeer? The prince is obsessed with hot air balloons, and Tim Curry is trying to kill him. Yeah, Tim Curry is back voicing a villain and I couldn't be happier. Barbie swordfights a dude, some other chick fights guys using fans, then Barbie's pet cat starts swordfighting a dog. I dunno man.


Film 17: Barbie in A Mermaid Tale (2010)

It's Aquaman. Barbie's just Aquaman. She's the halfsies child of some land dude and a mermaid and she has a secret destiny to save the underwater kingdom from an evil queen SHE'S AQUAMAN. Weirdly enough this is probably the first movie that has a clothes try-on scene. I figured what with Barbies being dolls that you dress up it would play a more prominent role, but what do I know. There's annoying psychic mermaid teens that can tell the future. I guess an interesting part is that Barbie doesn't wanna be a mermaid, in contrast to every single little girl I've ever met. The villain is almost exactly the same as the one from Diamond Castle, and I think that's the only time I've seen them reuse a villain design so far. At one point to distract the evil queen the whole mermaid town starts singing a song and, infuriatingly, it gets stuck in my head sometimes.


Film 18: Barbie: A Fashion Fairytale (2010)

SHE'S HERE! FINALLY! Yes, you guessed it, Rrrrrrraquelle, the one the only! They ditched her earlier design from Diaries and now we have her current design, more or less. She's got bangs though. (I don't know enough about what hairstyles say about a person to make a statement on whether this is more or less true to her character.) Okay now I'm probably mischaracterizing this movie. Raquelle is in it for maybe a couple minutes. However! She sets the whole plot off. See, this Barbie (No longer played by Kelly Sheridan, instead it looks like Diana Kaarina is taking over for a while) is the one who acted in all the previous movies. She mentions working on Three Musketeers, and has a poster for A Mermaid Tale in her trailer. After she gets fired for offering moderate suggestions to a director onset, she gets a call from Ken (YES KEN'S HERE BABY) where he breaks up with her, so Barbie decides to fuck off to Paris and spend time with her Aunt Millicent. But it turns out Raquelle faked the whole thing and now Ken's gotta get to Paris as a grand romantic gesture to get her back. Meanwhile Barbie finds out her aunt's fashion... shop? Fashion house? Boutique? Nakedness Refusal Center is closing down because nobody likes her clothes no more and also the French bitch across the road has been committing Clothes Plaigarism. So it's up to Barbie, a subtly enchanting shy bookish French girl who has a secret passion for designing, and three random fairies (sorry, Flairies) to set up a big fashion show to save the building. Ken's whole Planes, Trains, and Automobiles subplot is pretty funny, though there's also a subplot with a dog designer who's in love with Barbie's dog and I wonder why this is the one set in "real life" if magic and human-level intelligence animals were gonna be in it. On the other hand, I think this is the first kiss I've seen in a Barbie movie.


Film 19: Barbie: A Fairy Secret (2011)

NOW THIS IS WHAT I'M TALKING ABOUT! A full supporting role for the queen of queens, my creepy obsession, RAQUELLE! She's in full form this time, being a huge bitch almost the whole time. Even when she's not talking, she's in the background rolling her eyes or making blah blah motions with her hand. Seeing as how Raquelle (my love, my muse) is in there it should be obvious this is a sequel of sorts to A Fashion Fairytale, and since Magic is Real they can just go buckwild. See, Fashion Fairies exist. Listen, don't ask me. What's important is the Fairy Princess sees Ken and wants him so fucking bad she kidnaps him and plans to marry him the next day. Barbie, Raquelle, and two new characters who have been Fashion Fairies the whole time (GASP) go to the fairyworld to save Ken. Ken's subplot is even funnier this time, where the fairy princess keeps forgetting his name, and her previous suitor challenges him to a duel, which he almost refuses til it's implied he's not Man enough. I love how when Ken is in these he's just shit on over and over. Also all the ladies fall for Ken. He's just a poor himbo without a clue. They actually nail down the source of Raquelle's envy, where since high school she assumed Barbie thought she was better than everyone else, and Raquelle has just been paying her back in kind. It makes sense, Barbie's more human in this than Life in the Dreamhouse, like she gets genuinely mad at Raquelle at one point. I'm a little disappointed though, since getting all that out in the open makes Barbie and Raquelle actual friends, instead of Raquelle being a bitter envious bitch forever. Whatever, man. I got what I wanted.

Rating: Raquelle/BARBIE

Film 20: Barbie: Princess Charm School (2011)

Holy shit how the hell did they do it. They made me like a movie called Princess Charm School. Either that or I'm losing my fucking mind. This one don't take place in "Real Life," instead in some fictional kingdom with a gamified royal system. At some point in the past the whole royal family died in a car crash, so they opened up some kind of school for noble kids and the best one gets to be princess. The real twist is that they have a lottery for commoners to get in, and who else should win but our friend Barbie. There's almost some class-consciousness here, beyond the "how am I gonna learn to be a princess" that's more common. At one point the prospective future princess (who is a mean girl) and her evil bitch of a mom say once they have the throne they'll demolish the slums for some upscale housing and a park. But, like, Barbie, her sister, and her sick mom live in those slums. It's like Princess and the Pauper, it ain't exactly The Jungle but any mention of economic class in a Barbie movie is something I didn't expect. But yeah we got redemption of the mean girl, we got the plot twist where it turns out Barbie is actually the not-dead princess like Anastasia, and I forgot to mention that each student of the charm school has an actual fairy as a servant. That's a bit weird. All of that don't actually matter because the highlight of this movie is Portia, a girl who looks and acts as if she's stoned out of her goddamn mind. It's true that a stupid character is easy mode for comedy, but it's not a guarantee. (See Ghostbusters (2016). She's great and should get her own movie.


Film 21: Barbie: A Perfect Christmas (2011)

I want to preface this with the very real possibility that this project is actively altering my mind and you should all cut me some slack. Okay. This movie made me think and feel things. I know! I know! Hear me out! This is another "Real Life" sort of movie, but this time it features all of Barbie's sisters. We got Skipper for the first time, the oldest sister, Stacy the middle one, and Kelly has finally transformed into Chelsea. They're all going to New York City for Christmas to see their Aunt Millicent, but a bunch of winter storms happen so they're stuck in some Christmas hotel in Minnesota. It's interesting because each sister has a little emotional arc. Skipper wants to be out of Barbie's gargantuan shadow, Kelly wants to be left the fuck alone, and Chelsea is trying to navigate being her own person but ends up copying Kelly. Barbie herself has a notable one, which brought up some questions. So like where are these kids' parents? Are they dead? Barbie is their caretaker in this movie, and her turmoil is that she's letting down her sisters by not giving them the Christmas she promised. She's got a parent's anxiety, which is an oddity considering every single other movie before this. I thought the family dynamic would be the usual trite sort of thing, but the conflicts that show up make it feel lived in, like actual siblings would act towards one another. This is the second movie to show a character who makes poor decisions trying to exist outside of Barbie's enormous talent pool, and I don't know if I should expect a payoff to that or not. This is a musical, but the songs are just okay. I just didn't expect the Roberts family to be rendered in such an authentic way. It caught me off-guard.


I don't even know how to deal with this. 4 films in a row got a 5 or over. Is this the Golden Age of Barbie? If I start rating all of these that good, somebody call in a mental health check. This officially marks the halfway point of my Barbie Marathon! Will I make it to the end? Will there be a satisfying conclusion to the inter-movie story I entirely confabulated? Will my creepy obsession with Raquelle ostracize me from society? Find out next time!

Sunday, June 11, 2023

Life In Plastic: A Barbie Marathon Part 2

I sit in my home. The sky has darkened, the sunlight shining orange through the hazy air. Wildfires in Canada have sent a dense, choking smoke wafting through the entire East Coast, and my home is not spared. I was supposed to have exercised, but I took an impromptu two hour nap after work. My mind is foggy. I find it increasingly difficult to focus or care.

But it's Barbie Summer. And I have some movies to watch.

Film 8: The Barbie Diaries (2006)

This week of Barbie movies did not begin well, AQI over 200 notwithstanding. You see, I had actual expectations for this movie. As you may be aware, this is the first appearance of the best Barbie character, Raquelle. My queen, my muse. Of course what I didn't know was any other thing about this movie. It's a hard shift from the fantasy/fairytale genre that we've seen so far. Now it's that which chills me to my core. Teen drama. There are only certain conditions in which I can enjoy a teen drama, and that's if the main character is also a superhero or a teenage witch. Barbie ain't neither of those in this flick. Barbie is instead a high schooler who doesn't stand out, despite being in a band and a member of the school news station. Raquelle is still in the first draft of her character, she's your standard Libby without the deep pathos she would gain in later installments. It's really not important what happens, it's the standard teen drama paint by numbers where Barbie worries about being popular and dating the hot football boy but by the end she realizes her friends are more important and dates her annoying guy friend. This is replete with basic 00's style pop songs that grate on the ears if you aren't 13 in 2007. The animation leaves a lot to be desired, where none of the characters are all that expressive, and the whole film has the look of oversaturated cheap CGI. I didn't care for it.


Film 9: Barbie in the 12 Dancing Princesses (2006)

If I'm being honest any movie would have looked better after the Barbie Diaries, but we got the obligatory high-budget movie for the year this time! I can't believe they cranked out three of these things in 2006. I guess given the quality of the previous two, it's not really a stretch. We're back to background music by the Czech Philharmonic Chamber Orchestra, matte painted backgrounds, and expressive character rigging. The story's about 12 princesses, all sisters and the daughter of a widower king, whose wife must have died in childbirth because Jeeesus Christ that's a lotta babies to pop out. They're all unladylike and rambunctious, so the king calls his secretly evil cousin to teach them how to be ladies, but she just abuses them and tries to poison King Daddy. They find a secret magical garden which is never really explained, they beat the evil cousin, save their dad, and Barbie gets with a handsome cobbler. Speaking of the cobbler, I was like ten times more invested in this romance than the one in Diaries, and I'm not 100% sure why. Is it because I've seen the teen thing a million times before, or because I am more sucked in by a romance in a fantasy plot? I'm real glad this thing didn't come out in the 2010's, because all these sisters woulda gotten waifu'd and it would have gotten really weird. At any rate, Barbie wields a flail for a couple seconds in this movie, and that's all that matters.


Film 10: Barbie Fairytopia: Magic of the Rainbow (2007)

STOP IT WITH THE FAIRYTOPIA ALREADY! I just hate this setting. Barbie's character is boring, the villain is overdone, and I wish Bibble was on fire. What's worse is they put another goddamn Bibble in there. Two Bibbles! You can't do that to me! There were a couple things I thought might catch my interest, but they didn't go anywhere. So Barbie is recruited to learn some rainbow ritual thing with a few other fairies or else Fairytopia is doomed or something. Evil Fairy comes back, a buncha shit happens but they win and make a big rainbow yadda yadda. One of the other fairies is a mean girl who hates Barbie, which, as I'm discovering, can be an easy highlight. But then she's replaced by Evil Fairy for like half the movie so it doesn't even matter. There's a boy fairy who seems to take a shine to ol' Barbie, but that's not really worked on either. There's nothing for me to grab onto! I mean yeah, it ends with Barbie getting the other fairies' energy like a Spirit Bomb and shooting it out as a rainbow which beam struggles against the Evil Fairy's evil beam and she's defeated like Gohan beats Cell. But worse.


Film 11: Barbie as the Island Princess (2007)

I made a grave error. I forgot there could be bad musicals. "Oh," I said mournfully, "Why can't they make another musical? It will be just like Princess and the Pauper again!" Then a finger on the monkey's paw curled. They must not have gotten the same songwriter because these songs are painfully mediocre. Barbie's got a song, the villain has a song, even some fucking rats have a song, and I don't like a single one. The plot is also really weird. Barbie was marooned on a deserted island as a little girl, so she was raised by a red panda and a peacock into some kind of Tarzan. Then a prince finds the island and she goes back to civilization for some fish out of water tropes. The prince is in love with her, obviously, but the king doesn't understand why his son wants to marry some insane wild woman that thinks she can talk to birds. Instead the king wants to set him up with some normal princess, and her mom is evil? Like, this was all part of Evil Mom's plan to take over the kingdom, due to some needlessly elaborate backstory and grudge against the king. Evil Mom is exposed and it turns out Barbie was a princess all along so none of it mattered. It looks better than something like Diaries, but when the songs in a musical are bad you're gonna have a bad time. The romance didn't do anything for me either.


Film 12: Barbie: Mariposa and Her Butterfly Fairy Friends (2008)

This week is full of surprises! The first thing I saw in this movie inspires more hatred in me than is probably healthy: Bibble. I want to trap him in an airtight soundproof bottle for all of eternity. I was ready to check out, but then Barbie started telling him a story and I realized this was just the framing device! We haven't had a framing device in ages! Beyond my imagining, it was genuinely good! Like, all the characters are still fairies, no getting around that, but the setting is way different, and Kelly Sheridan isn't even voicing the main character! Wait, does that mean she's not a Barbie? I guess she's just a Mariposa. I could honestly write a full-length review of this, it's got a lot going on! There's a weird unstated class system where some fairies have jobs serving other fairies, they all go to parties and balls every night like the Russian Aristocracy, and for some reason all the royals are Latina. They all live on an island and are preyed upon by big flying monsters that can't stand light, and the queen powers all the light emitting flowers. I like Mariposa, even. She's an introverted bookworm who stays outside of parties to read her books. I could pull Mariposa. When the queen gets poisoned Mariposa has to find the magical antidote with the two faires that employ her, everyone learns about themselves, there's some valley girl mermaids(!!!) and the antidote is found in some mystical cave that reflects your insecurities back at you. It's a way better story than the original Fairytopia, I was actually interested in what was going to happen. It's held down a bit by the intermittent interruptions so we can see how fucking Bibble responds to the story. I want to throw Bibble off a cliff. Apparently there's one more Mariposa movie, and I'm actually anticipating it!


Film 13: Barbie & the Diamond Castle (2008)

Now I haven't done any research on these movies before watching them, so this may be an overdone point, but: Barbie's a lesbian in this movie, right? Her and Teresa (in her first movie role) live alone in a cottage outside of town where they sell flowers. It's the Sapphic Cottagecore dream. They find two rocks that look like hearts and wear them as matching necklaces! THEY'RE GAY! I KNOW IT! There's even two dudes who could be romantic contenders, but the girls just use them for transportation! There is a scene where Barbie and Teresa ride away from the two fuckbois on a shining rainbow. I guarantee there were little girls who learned essential facts about themselves from this movie. Anyway, it's not that good. It's another one that has a framing device with Barbie and Teresa telling Barbie's sister Stacy a story. This is the first appearance of Stacy, though she doesn't have a character in the story. There's songs in there, but this isn't really a musical. Barbie and Teresa just sing the same few bland pop songs over and over again because they're also musicians. Blah blah evil witch blah blah friendship and magic they save the day.


Film 14: Barbie in A Christmas Carol (2008)

I was apprehensive about this. It's been a while since we've had an adaptation and the ones we had before were pretty hit-or-miss. Along with that, this is the third film released in 2008, and we already had the good one. Imagine my surprise when this hit all the marks. It's not a straight adaptation of A Christmas Carol, it just has the basic structure with different characters. Barbie only appears in the framing device, telling this story to Kelly (who has yet to become Chelsea), It's a bit regrettable, I would have liked to see how Kelly Sheridan would voice a more malicious character. In any event the main character is an opera singer who also owns her own theater troupe, I guess. She's an angry bitch with a sad past and I am discovering those character traits are like catnip to me. Sometimes as you learn about Barbie you learn about yourself. So she hates Christmas and makes all her employees work on Christmas but then three ghosts show up and all that. There's not an emphasis on greed here as it is in the Dickens story, instead it centers on selfishness, how Scroogette was taught from a young age to put herself first and never more so than on Christmas. The Christmas Past and Christmas Present segments are well done, different enough from the original to fit the new characters, but recognizable as the same basic story. The Christmas Future segment let me down a little bit, it pulls its punches and ends up more comedic than tragic. I guess with the age demographic for this movie they were hesitant to blatantly state that Tiny Tammy died because of the actions of Scroogette. Even so, it was a pretty enjoyable movie, and as a Christmas Carol adaptation it far outpaces something like Scrooged.


Week Two is complete! Barbie movies still find a way to surprise me, like how the fourth Fairytopia movie was actually pretty good. The first appearance of Raquelle was a disappointment, but I know she appears in at least one more movie, so there's still a chance she develops into the character I'm familiar with. I know what I said about Princess and the Pauper, but at this point I think Barbie movies should steer clear of musicals. You really gotta be on your A-game to make one of them work, and that sort of effort is sporadic at best in Barbieland. Of course I'm not even halfway through yet, so who knows what awaits! Until next time!

Sunday, June 4, 2023

Life In Plastic: A Barbie Marathon Part 1

I've never believed in destiny. There are things that happen, but the reason they should happen at a specific time to a specific person has always, to me, been the arbitrary conditions of our universe. But sometimes, maybe, I can feel something close.

This tweet. It stirred something within me, something longing to spring forth, a hidden goal that one day, I knew, would be fulfilled. The time has come. It's Barbie Summer, bitches.

There are currently 42 Barbie animated movies. Watching one each day, I will get through them all in 6 weeks. A lesser man would quail at such an idea. I am not that man. This is the first of six such parts, where I will detail my experience with each movie and provide a rating that will have very little to do with objectivity and the standards will vary wildly between entries. I hope you'll stick around. I hope I'll stick around.

Film 1: Barbie In the Nutcracker (2001)

Somehow, before even starting this project, I was a day late. That meant on my first day watching I would have to watch two Barbie movies, while through unfortunate coincidence, dealing with a hangover. That's probably a representative moment in this whole project. Anyway, the movie itself is a strong start to the whole Barbie movie thing. I've never actually watched a Nutcracker adaptation before, so if this were the most accurate retelling or a butchering of the story I wouldn't know. That said, the story is simple and clean. A short framing device in the beginning and end shows Barbie telling the story to her little sister Kelly (Who will later be renamed Chelsea) to motivate her to keep trying at ballet. There's an evil mouse king, there's a guy who got turned into a Nutcracker, there's a journey through a fantasy land where everything gets fixed, and then it's all a dream. (Or is it?) The London Symphony Orchestra performs the classic Nutcracker songs, which surprisingly even I recognized. There's a lot of actual ballet in the film as well, motion captured from professional ballet dancers. The real orchestra and ballet performances elevate what could have easily been a forgettable movie. Kelly Sheridan plays the Barbie role in this movie, which she will continue for almost every single film going forward. The Mouse King is played by Tim Curry(!!!) which assuredly influenced my overall opinion of the film. A very strong start to this franchise, I could see viewing this movie becoming a Christmas tradition for people.


Film 2: Barbie as Rapunzel (2002)

Watching Nutcracker, I thought perhaps I had these movies all wrong, maybe they were just good movies and I was blinded by stereotypes and never gave them a chance. Barbie as Rapunzel disspelled that notion. I know enough about Rapunzel to know that this is pretty far from the source materal. SHE DON'T EVEN LET DOWN HER HAIR! Barbie's like, some sort of maid or something for an evil witch, but also Barbie has a talking rabbit and talking purple dragon as friends. Painting is, for some reason, the big theme of the movie, and Barbie gets a magic paintbrush that lets her escape from the tower. There's motion capture used here as well, but since they use it for action scenes instead of dancing scenes, it comes off as awkward and off-putting. Kinda like Food Fight. Actually, the animation looks like Food Fight too. Did the Barbie people make Food Fight? Perhaps it was the hangover or heightened expectations from Nutcracker, but all this movie did was make me annoyed.


Film 3: Barbie of Swan Lake (2003)

I was expecting a return to form here. The "form" being the standard set by Nutcracker. It's another Tchaikovsky ballet, they got a celebrity to do the villain, so my hopes were high. I wasn't entirely disappointed, it certainly turned out better than Rapunzel, but it lacked the snappiness of Nutcracker. Once again, I am completely unfamiliar with the source material. The weirdest part of this movie was the pacing, ostensibly the stakes are high where the evil wizard man is going to take over the Magical Grove(??) but long stretches of the film go by where it seems like nobody really cares about that. There's talking animals again in this one, but with a twist: They turn into children. Or like, elves, I guess. I'm starting to think talking animals are a real bad omen for these movies. One good thing is they got Kelsey Grammer to voice the bad guy. They got a dang ol' Frasier in there! He's an evil wizard or something, but what I noticed is his evil spoiled daughter with black hair. Perhaps the first appearance of the Raquelle architype? The motion capture dancing is back, which while pleasant to look at with orchestral music in the background, made it difficult to care about what was actually supposed to be going on in the movie.


Film 4: Barbie as the Princess and the Pauper (2004)

Now this is the good shit. The first Barbie musical! And the songs are good! AND THE STORY IS GOOD! Kelly Sheridan voices two Barbies this time, and she makes them distinct enough that you can tell who is who, even when they're disguised. This movie has some bite to it. I didn't think I'd see even the most facile complaints against the class system in a Barbie movie, but by gum they did it. That's not even to mention they got goddamn Martin Short for the villain. They did everything right! It had stakes, tension, good pacing, and I didn't even hate the talking animals! The difference here is that the animals could only talk to one another. And the best part: Two romance plots for the price of one! You got the Feelings Held Back Because of Social Differences and Romantic Feelings That Shine Through Even Though There is a Deception. They even had a fake blooper reel during the credits! There is yet hope!

Rating: Barbie/BARBIE

Film 5: Barbie Fairytopia (2005)

And we go right back into garbage. I haven't exactly been rating these based on their production value so far, but this one is noticably worse. They didn't bother with matte paintings for the sky or background, the character models seem more uncanny than usual (Not helped by the myriad of weird creatures in this) and there's no orchestra playing the background music. It sounds like a synthesized soundtrack, and not a great one at that. The plot is oddly dense with lore, like they made a whole cosmology for this movie when the rest were pretty simple Fairytale Fantasy. This seems like it has Lord of the Rings style aspirations, of which it falls very short. There's no talking animals in this one, just some weird fuzzy flying creature named Bibble that I will hate for the rest of my life. He makes gibbering noises that sometimes sound like words, and he never ever shuts up. There's a big butterfly man who looks horrifying, and some evil goblin minions who all look exactly the same. The plot is weird, there's some evil fairy kidnapping fairy lords to steal their power, but she never leaves the one room of her evil lair, and never directly does anything to our protagonist. Barbie starts the movie as a wingless fairy freak, at which point I knew she would get wings at the end. As a character in this she's really boring, just a nice person who's a little unsure of herself, but does the right thing in every instance anyway. Even though the point of the movie is ostensibly that your differences make you special, Barbie's reward is that she gets to be just like everyone else. After the good scriptwriting of the previous movie, the faults are all the more apparent. This was just a dud in every sense, which is concerning because it's the first of a four movie series within the Barbie canon.


Film 6: Barbie and the Magic of Pegasus (2005)

It's weird how inconsistent these are. Like there's not some point where they all dip in quality, they just go back and forth. Case in point: This movie is actually pretty good. They got an orchestra again, this time the Czech Philharmonic Chamber Orchestra, they got matte painted backgrounds, Barbie is a sassy teen(!!) and they got a nice romance plot in there again. The villain is way better, he's an absolute dickhead who fucks with Barbie's family for no reason except that he just hates women. There's a clear goal and stakes, Barbie's gotta get three parts of a thing to make a thing before some spell turns her parents to stone forever, and her sister-turned-Pegasus helps her travel all around to do that. Oh, remember how everyone said it was so clever when Frozen had "true love" be the love between the two sisters? Well this movie did it first! A component of the MacGuffin is a ring of true love, and it's with love for their parents that Barbie and her horse sister make it in this. Take that DISNEY! The cute animal polar bear in this had the gibbering sort of noises like Bibble, but much less annoying. The male lead swordfights a gryphon. When Barbie gets the magic MacGuffin one of the first things she does is try to fucking kill the villain with it. It don't work, but I appreciate the attempt. The second film to have a blooper reel at the end!


Film 7: Barbie: Fairytopia: Mermaidia (2006)

I don't know why, but I had the hope that the next Fairytopia would be dramatically better than the first one. It's not. It's better in some aspects, but it almost all of the same issues as the first. The backgrounds are bad, everything that's not a standard humanoid is terrifyingly rendered, and Bibble continues to evoke my hatred. They couldn't even get an orchestra for this one! Are these just the cheap stopgaps between movies that have a budget? The plot is at least a bit better. The evil fairy from the first one is having her minions steal some other MacGuffin from the mermaid place, so they kidnap a merman and it's up to Barbie and some blue mermaid to save him and get the MacGuffin back. About the blue mermaid: She's a bitch with low self esteem and I love her. Barbie is, once again, perfect in a boring way, so having an asshole mermaid to bounce off of her is a refreshing change of pace. There's not really romance, except that Bitchy Mermaid is in love with Merman, and thinks he loves Barbie, but no he loved Blue Bitch the whole time so whatever. There was at least more drive to the plot this time, even if there were some absolutely bizarre moments, like when Bibble eats some sea berry and starts talking like Barry White. That was uncomfortable. I think there's like, two more Fairytopia movies? I'm not looking forward to those.


Week One of six done! I'm honestly surprised how much I enjoyed some of these. I was expecting the trite nonsense of Fairytopia the whole way through, but Nutcracker, Princess and the Pauper, and Magic of the Pegasus were legitimately enjoyable. The ratio of good to bad isn't great though. If there's more musicals (and they aren't terrible) I may actually enjoy myself! Until next time!