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!

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