There is no more iconic toy than Barbie, and she has spawned a franchise in which each Barbie film appears to be completely different from the one before it. The films began in 2001 and have featured some of the most bizarre and out-of-this-world stories, with Barbie travelling to space, diving to the depths of the ocean, and living a life that defies any notion of what an animated princess is all about.
Things changed in the early 2010s, however, when Barbie became an actress and appeared in films as a mermaid and a fairy. These were followed by a series of films aimed at young children, with life lessons told in more straightforward stories. Enter, Life in Dreamhouse- an almost meta television show that realises its commercial roots and plays into the stereotype. Life in the Dreamhouse includes fly-on-the-wall interview segments with its characters that frame the wacky goings-on as if it were a reality TV show. With a new Barbie live-action film coming out on the 21st of this month, the best is hopefully yet to come.
10. Barbie and the Three Musketeers (2009)
Barbie and the Three Musketeers (2009) is set in mid-1600s Paris. Corinne D’Artagnan, a 17-year-old from Gascony, aspires to be a musketeer like her late father. She works out in the barn every day until she is ready to travel to Paris and meet with Monsieur Treville, the captain of the royal guard. The problem is that once hot-blooded Corinne arrives in Paris, things don’t go so well. When Corinne arrives at the palace, Philippe, the regent, remarks, “As if a girl could ever possess the proper skills to be a musketeer.” She is then sent off to the castle to work as a maid. Corinne gets her chance, however, when she is forced to reveal her training after an attempt on the Prince’s life fails. Corinne works with her fellow maids Aramina, Renée, and Viveca to foil an evil chancellor’s plot to usurp the throne.
9. Barbie in a Christmas Carol (2008)
A bit of a unique choice, Barbie in a Christmas Carol does not appear on a lot of lists for the best Barbie movies. But the timeless tale mixed with a sort of nostalgia, this has to be a memorable mention on ours. Barbie’s younger sister, Kelly, dreams of eating cookies and drinking cocoa in front of her fireplace on Christmas Eve rather than attending the hospital’s annual charity ball. To persuade her, Barbie tells the story of the famous Victorian singer, Eden Starling, who demands that her crew cancel their Christmas plans in order to rehearse her upcoming show, much like Charles Dickens’ timeless festive tale depicted in A Christmas Carol (1951).
8. Barbie of Swan Lake (2003)
The second Barbie film based on a famous Tchaikovsky ballet (after Barbie in the Nutcracker), Barbie of Swan Lake is a dazzling and magical film that will make you want to rediscover your childhood dream of becoming a ballerina. This 2003 Barbie film has everything you could want in a fairytale: shapeshifting, talking animals, a purple unicorn, and lots of frolicking and dancing in the woods. The plot revolves around Odette, a shy village girl who believes she is not brave. One day, fate transports her to an Enchanted Forest, where she discovers that she is the only person capable of saving it from the evil wizard, Rothbart. Barbie of Swan Lake is a popular addition to the Barbie filmography, but it’s safe to say that the animation hasn’t aged the best.
7. Barbie: Fairytopia (2005)
Elina is satisfied with her best friend, a fuzzy character named Bibble, in another realm of Fairytopia, Magic Meadow. She wishes, however, that she had wings like the other fairies in the meadow. Meanwhile, the evil Laverna has made it impossible for the fairies to fly, and Elina must stop her. This was the movie that launched the new series of Elina Barbie movies, and it did a good job of setting up the character and her world, and it was a successful spin on the classic stories thanks to her furry friends and grand adventures.Truth be told, Bibble is one of the main reasons this film makes it on the list and there’s no shame in that.
6. Barbie: Princess Charm School (2011)
While many of the early Barbie films were adaptations of existing stories, such as ballets and fairytales, the films from the early 2010s were more focused on telling original stories that suited the character. Barbie: Princess Charm School was one of the best of these original stories. Barbie plays Blair, a young woman who discovers she is a long-lost princess while attending the prestigious Princess Charm School. The story is more engaging and in-depth than most of the original Barbie stories, but it suffers from the characters’ unique (but lovable!) hairstyles and fashion choices.
5. Barbie and the Magic of Pegasus (2005)
Barbie, as Princess Annika, must travel to the Cloud Kingdom in the sky with her own pegasus, Brietta, to break Wenlock’s spell and save her family after a battle with the evil warlock Wenlock. Brie Larson, who is part of the voice cast, has become a major star in the years since the film’s release, and she proves to have a great singing voice. It’s also a fast-paced film with exciting adventures.It’s also distinct because Barbie isn’t perfect here and has flaws she must overcome, which sets it apart from other Barbie films. It was also the first and only Barbie movie to use 3D effects. Magic of Pegasus was a huge success due to its deviations from the previous norms established by the first five Barbie titles.
4. Barbie: A Fashion Fairytale (2010)
Barbie visits her Aunt Millicent in Paris, whose Fashion House is about to close. Barbie, Millicent’s assistant, Alice, and some magical fairy friends devise a plan to keep the Fashion House open while flexing their designer muscles. This is unlike any other Barbie film in that it is not about embarking on a grand adventure to fight evil, but rather about fashion. There are even fashion design montages, and Ken takes a side trip to Paris. The film even mentions previous Barbie films and her career as an actor, which is always an intriguing plot point in the Barbie universe.
3. Barbie in the 12 Dancing Princesses (2006)
Some Barbie adaptations of classic stories were criticised for their deviations. This film, on the other hand, stayed true to the story’s origins and themes. Barbie played Genevieve, the middle daughter, and led the story of the princesses discovering a portal to a magical realm where they could escape their mourning duties and dance every night. The magic of this world propels them to defeat the cunning Duchess Rowena and save their bereaved father from her plot to poison him and seize the kingdom. Catherine O’Hara voices the menacing Villain Rowena which is one of the best parts of the film along with the iconic ballet sequence every fan has tried to imitate.
2. Barbie & the Diamond Castle (2008)
Barbie And The Diamond Castle is one of the more modern Barbie films, telling the story of two friends, Liana and Alexa, who embark on a journey to find the Diamond Castle with the help of a magical mirror. The plot revolves around two flower shop owners who want to save a friend from an evil woman, and they have opportunities to fight an ogre, perform songs in a tavern, and even have two anthropomorphic little puppies (who are going viral on the internet by the way). Add in some great music, and this makes for a near perfect Barbie film from the vast catalogue.
1. Barbie as the Princess and the Pauper (2004)
Unquestionably one of the best Barbie films ever made, it has become a favourite thanks to the songs that have since become millennial and gen-z pop culture staples. The plot is loosely based on Mark Twain’s novel The Prince and the Pauper, and it follows the fabulously wealthy princess Anneliese and the indentured servant and almost physically identical Erika as they swap lives and, of course, find love. While Erika’s plight of working tirelessly to support herself and her family is noble and understandable, Anneliese’s singing about how difficult it is to be wealthy hasn’t aged well and is almost laughable to equate their struggles. This film tops the list of our favourite Barbie movies largely due to the brilliance that is the antagonist- Preminger. He has some of the film’s funniest lines, and he appears to be the only one who understands how to run a kingdom and how basic economics works.