You know what’s a sign you need to rewatch a good movie? When you loosely remember the plot, but not every scene.
This happened to me with the 2009 film Barbie presents Thumbelina.
This is Makena. She’s not all that nice, but she’s not the villain. That would be her parents.
Thumbelina is not a fairy. I repeat, Thumbelina is not a fairy. She’s a Twilerbee, which is a tiny person who is able to harness the magical powers of nature. Thumbelina DIYs herself (and her friends) some wings from petals. But she is still definitely not a fairy.
I really like this movie. The only reason I don’t watch it more often as I have only recently picked up a copy, at a garage sale. Before that, I watched it digitally on a computer that hasn’t been touched since 2011. FYI: the movie was only $1 so I don’t count it towards my Barbie ban.
The film starts off in a field. Barbie is teaching a group of young students about the environment. One of those students, I think her name is Emily, appears later in Barbie: A Fairy Secret, but with a different voice actress. Anyway, back to the field. This in itself is awesome because it highlights the importance of the environment (not that Barbie actually cared about the environment back then, what with the Asia Pulp and Paper scandal and all), and it puts Barbie in a respectful position. Barbie is shown as a leader, not a pink princess on the red carpet. As expected, Barbie tells the children a story which then fades into the movie.
Thumbelina and her friends, Janessa and Crysella become trapped in Makenna’s lavish city apartment bedroom after Makenna demands a patch of flowers from the area where Thumbelina and her friends were playing. The girls discover that Makenna’s parents are planning on destroying the whole field to build a new factory.
Thumbelina and Makenna come from two very different worlds -Thumbelina lives a carefree life, literally under a bush, and spends her days caring for nature and playing with her friends. Kind of like Tinkerbell, I guess, but with longer dressses. Makenna’s parents are new money, so Makenna can still remember a time where they were yet to “hit it big,” and Makenna feels somewhat isolated in her group of wealthy friends, who go by the names of Violet and Ashlyn. Makenna feels as though she has to constantly impress her friends in order for them to stay with her.
Despite these differences, Thumbelina and Makenna become friends and work together to stop the factory from breaking ground. Well, kind of. Makenna is more interested in showing Thumbelina off to her friends, but she does at least try to stop the factory from being built. Thumbelina discovers Makenna’s true intentions and flies back to the field. Makenna apologises and the two work together to save the field.
Initally, the audience sees Makenna as a little cow who likes to exploit tiny, nature-loving little people for her own benefit, but as the movie progresses, we see that Makenna is, well, lonely. She lives in a big city, surrounded by adults, and her parents are too busy to spend time with her. To make matters worse, they work from home offices, which means they’re on call 24/7. Makenna desperately wants approval from Violet and Ashlyn, and it’s not because she’s stuck up, it’s because without them, she has no-one.
When Thumbelina comes along, Makenna realises what a true friend is like, and decides she’s better off without Violet and Ashlyn. Which is awesome! But I am a little concerned for her -in the world of the elite, reputation is everything, and Makenna just flushed her’s down the drain. *shrugs* Whatever, the message is clear -if you are constantly proving your worth to someone, you shouldn’t waste your time on them.
Back at the field, a team of construction workers, Myron, Louie, Rick and Carla (yay for a girl construction worker!), are freaked out by the “haunted” field. That is, Thumbelina’s friends are doing everything in their power to stop construction from going ahead. I really like these scenes -they’re funny, even to an almost-adult like me.
The most dramatic scene in the film is definitely when Makenna is racing to the field to tell Myron to stop digging. The suspense! The most powerful is when Makenna’s father, Evan, goes to pick up his phone and then stops, because he cares about his daughter more.
The overall message in the film is that even if you’re small (Thumbelina was the smallest Twillerbee and Makenna was small compared to her parents), you can still make a difference. I think the message runs deeper than that, but gotta keep it simple for the kids, right? The now-deleted website encouraged children to make “small but powerful” changes like turning off lights and biking to school. All packaging for the film and its toys was produced using environmentally-friendly packaging, which was a nice touch, but shouldn’t all packaging be environmentally friendly?
Speaking of the toys, they were hedious. I wouldn’t even like them if I was given them as a gift! A quick Google search will show you the horror.