Ranking (Almost) All the Barbie Movies: Princess Movies Edition

With Greta Gerwig’s “Barbie,” starring Margot Robbie and Ryan Gosling coming out this summer, we, Abby Godsen (copy editor and reporter) and Jackie Bozinovski (reporter and Abby’s roommate) decided it would be a great idea to rewatch and rank (almost) all of the Barbie movies to date in celebration. Because there are so many Barbie movies to date, the reviews and rankings of the movies we watched were divided into three main sections: princess movies, fairy movies and mermaid movies. In the fourth part, there will be a final overall ranking of all the movies watched and reviews for any movies that did not make it into the first three articles.

This first installment features the princess movies of the Barbie franchise.

NOTE: This is not ALL of the movies in the Barbie universe, but, it is most of them. We chose to feature these ones, as we felt they best represented the franchise as a whole and also met one of four criteria: it must contain magic, fairies, princesses or mermaids. However, we knew some, like “Thumbelina” and “Barbie and the Pink Shoes,” wouldn’t rank well, and we chose to omit them from our list.

10. "Barbie: The Princess & The Popstar" (2012)

“Princess and the Popstar'' is the story of a pop star, Keira, who is tasked with performing at multiple concerts to commemorate the kingdom Meribella’s 500th anniversary while facing serious burnout and writer's block. Meanwhile, Princess Tori is overwhelmed by the responsibilities of being a princess. Using Keira’s magic microphone and Tori’s magic hairbrush, they swap places. This movie ranks at the bottom of our list because it is a worse play on “Princess and the Pauper.” The characters aren’t that dynamic, and the plot is just them realizing other people have struggles too. While the concert at the end is pretty good, there was not much else about the movie that we loved.

9. “Barbie as Rapunzel” (2002)

In this movie, Barbie plays Rapunzel who has been locked in a tower by her evil stepmother, only to find out that her paintbrush is magic, and allows her to paint portals to other places. Not going to lie, this one was a little boring. Considering all Barbie movies run around an hour to an hour and a half, there was way more that could have been done with the storyline. The character designs were great, and Rapunzel's sidekicks Penelope and Hobie were very endearing, but the movie still felt lacking.

8. “Barbie of Swan Lake” (2003)

Barbie stars as Odette in the classic story of Swan Lake. The evil villain and the kids of the forest were truly the best part of this movie. The ballet in this movie is far more realistic than in some of the other Barbie movies, but the arm technique was atrocious. Generally speaking, while it had some good elements like the unicorn and Odile’s laugh, it lacked a unique plot and design that gives the signature Barbie flair we were looking for.

7. “Barbie and the Secret Door” (2014) 

This was another surprisingly good Barbie movie. Alexa, a shy, bookish princess, discovers a secret door to a magical land. There she discovers that she has magic of her own. Unfortunately, Nori and Romy, a mermaid and fairy from this world, inform her that Malucia, the princess of Zinnia, is stealing everyone’s magic, including theirs. Is this the best and most original movie? No, but it has all the things you love about Barbie movies: magic, friendship, fairies, princesses, mermaids, and a cranky, power-hungry villain. Malucia was a surprisingly good villain, although she was annoying at times. It also had the typical ending costume change, but we felt that the dress she ended the movie with was kind of ugly and not deserving of being a “final-transformation” gown.

6. “Barbie: Princess Charm School” (2011) 

Blair is a waitress in the rural part of Gardania. When her name is picked from a raffle to attend Princess Charm School, she is thrown into a world she would have never dreamed of experiencing. The moral of this story is very wholesome, and, while the plot isn’t extensive, it does have some depth and shows how Blair grows as an individual. It featured a not-horrible modern dance sequence at the end and had some loveable sidekicks. The fact that it has a darker, more sinister background story (scandal, murder, etc.)  is different from the usual and only adds to the entertainment.

5. “Barbie in the 12 Dancing Princesses” (2006) 

Like the classic fairytale, Genevieve and her sisters find a secret staircase to another magical world where they can dance forever, away from the watchful eye of Duchess Rowena, who was asked by their father to help tutor them to be more “princess-like.” This is another one that we knew was a classic but was ultimately just mid in ranking. The sisters, while having unique interests, still felt flat, and the plot didn’t feel like much took place. It was still enjoyable, and Derek and his parrot were probably the best parts of the movie. Rowena as a villain was lackluster and felt more jealous-mean-girl than villain, although her henchman Desmond was very devoted to her in a comical way.

4. “Barbie and the Magic of Pegasus” (2005)

“The Magic of Pegasus” was one movie we were skeptical of but were surprised by how much we enjoyed it. When Princess Annika’s entire kingdom is turned to stone by the evil sorcerer Wenlock, she goes on a quest to save her kingdom with her polar bear cub Shiver, the blacksmith Aidan and the help of her long-lost sister Brietta, who was turned into a pegasus. The movie itself was hilarious, and Shiver was incredibly adorable. The banter between Annika and Aidan is hilarious and gives enemies-to-lovers energy. After watching some of the older movies that were so-so, this was a breath of fresh air for sure. Wenlock really got what he deserved at the end of the movie too, leaving us laughing in tears and high-fiving each other.

3. “Barbie and the Diamond Castle” (2008) 

“Diamond Castle” is a major standout in the Barbie movie franchise. The combination of music, eccentric sidekicks, slimy villains, and the power of friendship; what more could you ask for? Liana and Alexa are best friends who share a love for music and discover a magical mirror with Melody, a muse apprentice, trapped inside. When they find out about Lydia's plot to try and take the Diamond Castle for herself, they work together in order to free the other muses and save the castle. This movie really has it all: a villain you love to hate, a cheeky set of twins who help our main characters along the way, and a modern dance scene from the amazing puppies Sparkle and Lily.

2. Barbie as the Island Princess” (2007)

Rosella (Ro) was a baby when she washed up after a terrible storm and shipwreck, leaving her without a home and a family; that is until Sagi the red panda and Azul the peacock found her and chose to raise her on a tropical island. Ten years later, Prince Antonio ends up on her island and asks her to join him back on the mainland. After a movie like “12 Dancing Princesses,” canonically speaking, that felt a little flat and lacking in plot, “Island Princess” really stepped it up. The music was some of the catchiest in the franchise and all the characters had their own quirks and dimensions. The love-triangle arc was done really well in this one, and it didn’t feel cheap or force the other love interest to be evil in a way many other shows/movies do.  What really sealed the deal for us were the side characters, not to mention the fantastic costume change.

1. “Barbie as the Princess and the Pauper” (2004)

“Princess and the Pauper” is a must-see for megafans of the Barbie Universe. In this movie, Princess Anneliese and seamstress Erika find out that they look identical, and when Preminger, the royal advisor for Queen Genevieve, abducts Anneliese so he can have the kingdom for himself, Erika steps in to act as the princess. The music is some of the best out of all the Barbie movies, and Preminger is a fabulous villain with an incredible villain song. The story builds on the original in a way that is uniquely Barbie. This is where the producers of these movies really started to hit their stride.

Abigail Godsen (she/her) is a sophomore majoring in Applied Information Sciences. She is a reporter and Copy Editor for The Campus Citizen. When she isn’t writing, Abby likes to cook, do crossword puzzles and drink a lot of tea. She can be summoned using tea, cardigans and books (according to her roommate Jackie).

Jackie Bozinovski (she/her) is a sophomore double majoring in Biology and Forensics. She is a sometimes writer for the Campus Citizen, but primarily is the Citizen's mascot. When she isn't doing in-depth research on obscure topics or chugging copious amounts of coffee, you can find her reading, explaining science concepts to her very not sciencey roommate Abby or talking about Drag Queens.

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