“Barbie as The Princess and The Pauper features Barbie in an exciting dual role as a princess and a poor village girl – two girls who look amazingly alike. The girls’ paths are fated to cross when Princess Anneliese is captured and Erika, her look-alike, must try to save her. Can Erika pretend to be the Princess and foil her captor, the evil Preminger? And what of the handsome King Dominick, who falls in love with Erika, mistaking her for Princess Anneliese? In this magical musical performance, two beautiful, adventurous girls dare to follow their dreams and discover that destiny is written in a very special place: your heart.”-Adam Fenton and Janine McGoldrick, IMDB.
Barbie as the Princess and the Pauper is the first musical in the Barbie film series. It features the voice of Kathleen Barr, Garry Chalk, Brian Drummond, Martin Short, and Kelly Sheridan as both the Princess Anneliese and the pauper Erika. Kelly Sheridan has performed the voice of Barbie in almost every Barbie film released since 2001, spanning 27 films in total. Princess and the Pauper was the fourth Barbie movie for Sheridan, who appears to be retiring from the role as of 2015. Barbie as the Princess and the Pauper received mostly positive reviews, and is credited with a ‘generally feminist’ story.
Some thoughts from me (Potential spoilers below)…
When we first started putting out tales of our Bad Princess Movie nights onto social media, we repeatedly would get recommendations for us to watch some of the Barbie movies. The trouble is, a lot of the Barbie movies are decent films. They’re not going to bring home any awards, but they’re decently animated, designed, produced, etc. Even when the story does odd things, they are still fairly well composed. If I had to guess, I assume this is likely because the head honcho’s at Barbie are very well aware of how there are many eyes on their brand. Even though their chief concern is to make money, I think they’re smart enough to recognize that they need to put out movies of a certain quality.
I actually have a lot of fondness for Barbie as the Princess and the Pauper. This is another movie that I saw when I was younger, but nostalgia aside I think it’s a fairly solid movie. The titular characters have dreams and desires outside of the roles assigned to them and this gets explored in the film.
I’m going to spoil a moment from the film that really sticks with me, so skip this next paragraph if you want to avoid that. The Princess’ mother, who has spent the entire film telling her daughter how she has to do her duty and marry someone she doesn’t love for the sake of the kingdom, finds herself in the same situation that her daughter was in. I really appreciate that, when push comes to shove, the Queen holds herself to the same standards she held her daughter to, and accepts the marriage proposal despite it being clear she really doesn’t want to. As an added bonus, she does this without talking at all, her emotions about the situation are perfectly conveyed by the animation where she reluctantly offers her hand while turning her face away from her suitor.
Princess and the Pauper does have some of the usual Barbie trappings to snicker at, but you might also find yourself surprised at how decent this movie actually is.
As a side note, Barbie has gone on to do a second take on the Prince and the Pauper story, with The Princess and the Popstar. They even reused one of the songs from the original movie (Which just so happens to be my favourite song from the film, so to say I’m a bit bitter is an understatement).