DVD Review: 'Barbie: A Fairy Secret'

Filed under: Movies

Rated IFFY for Ages 5 to 8

What Parents Need to Know

Parents need to know that fashion and shopping are the main attractions in this Barbie story. Not only are the fashion items shown in the movie available for purchase in the real world, but role model characters encourage the Barbie characters to shop as both a form of entertainment and a way to save a friend. In an interesting gender role twist, Ken must be saved from a forced marriage, but this storyline isn't enough to make up for catty behavior and other stereotypical female behavior.

The good stuff

  • Educational value: Intended to entertain rather than educate.

What to watch out for

  • Messages: Shopping and applying makeup take attention away from the movie's scanty sprinkling of good stuff -- the diverse cast, and the fact that Ken is the one waiting to be saved in this movie. Girls engage in mean behavior but admit that their bad attitudes are based on insecurity.
  • Role models: The two adult role models are involved in fashion: One is a helpful fashion magazine editor, and the other is a helpful shop owner. They encourage the girls to shop, shop, shop! In a flip gender role, it's Ken who's been kidnapped and is being forced to marry a princess.
  • Violence & scariness: A few falls from great heights and peril while riding through wind tunnels on Pega-Ponies, but everyone is fine. Ken and Zane have sport duels to show their manliness.
  • Sexy stuff: Characters kiss on the lips.
  • Language: Not an issue.
  • Consumerism: The movie is dripping with product tie-ins. Fairies have magical shoes, purses, and "matching belts," which allow them to fly. The girls are going to save Ken by "going shopping" at a magical shopping mall. Phones look an awful lot like iPhones.
  • Drinking, drugs, & smoking: Magic potion looks like wine, and it causes the drinker to act strangely.
What's the Story?

Barbie (voiced by Diana Kaarina) is getting ready for a walk down the red carpet with the help of her stylist friends Taylor (Kate Higgins) and Carrie (Cassandra Morris). When she gets to her movie debut, her co-star, Raquelle (Britt Irvin), ruins her dress. Not to worry! Barbie's stylists know what to do, and, as if by magic, her dress is repaired. But magic actually is at work, since the stylists are really fairies. Meanwhile, a spellbound fairy princess kidnaps Ken to be her fiance, which means that Barbie and her fairy friends have to do some fancy maneuvering to save him.

Is It Any Good?

There isn't much substance to "Barbie: A Fairy Secret," which makes its faults all the more obvious. Most glaring is the gotta-have-it shopping compulsion that dominates the plot. One of the role model-type adults admits that she has created fairy transport portals to take her to "two of my favorite shopping spots when I just can't wait" to buy something. That's not just a subtle pitch for kids to get hooked on spending -- it's a frontal assault.

Though it's targeted at younger kids, there are themes here that are better suited to tweens and teens -- like very sarcastic, catty comments among frenemies, girls flirting with other girls' boyfriends, and plots to undermine girls' success. Most of these issues are confronted and dealt with, but with what consequences? There's too much "Real Housewives" and not enough fairy innocence in this movie for it to be recommended.

This review of "Barbie: A Fairy Secret" was written by Joly Herman.

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Start by teaching him that it is safe to do so.