Movie Reviews

Barbie: The Princess and the Pauper (2004) Movie Review

UPDATE: I’m sorry the pictures are all different sizes! There are hardly any screenshots of this movie available on the internet, and I don’t have a disc drive in my computer so I can’t take any myself. So this is all I could find! Sorry again!

Hello, hello! I’m back with another movie review, and this time we’ll be diving right into the 2004 classic film, Barbie: The Princess and the Pauper. This is, without a doubt, one of the most popular classic films, and it’s one that I often hear people refer to when they say ‘I miss the old Barbie movie style!’

This film is directed by William Lau, who is the same guy that directed other popular films, such as the Fairytopia series, Barbie and The Three Musketeers, and Barbie in a Christmas Carol. He also directed the absolute trainwreck that was A Fairy Secret, but let’s not dwell on that.

The film is written by Cliff Ruby and Elana Lesser, who have both worked on various other Barbie films together, including Barbie as the Island Princess and Barbie and the Magic of Pegasus.

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Barbie: The Princess and the Pauper was based off on Mark Twain’s The Prince and the Pauper. He wrote a lot of other classic books too that you were probably made to suffer through in English class.

Anyway, the two main characters are Princess Anneliese and the pauper, Erika, young girls who look exactly alike.

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Here’s Erika. She works as a seamstress for Madame Carpe. Like most of the residents in Queen Genevieve’s kingdom, she lives in poverty.

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And here we have Princess Anneliese. Her mother, the Queen, has arranged for her to marry King Dominick in order to save their kingdom from bankruptcy.

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Here’s the rich King Dominick, from the neighbouring kingdom.

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Anneliese isn’t too happy about marrying Dominick – she’s in love with her tutor, Julian. Julian grew up in the village and now lives in the castle with the royal family.

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The reason the kingdom is bankrupt? Enter, Preminger! Preminger is the Queen’s advisor, and our singing, crazy villain. (Isn’t it always the royal advisor?) He was nominated for the DVDX Award of “Best Animated Character Performance,” and it’s not hard to see why! Preminger is easily my favourite Barbie villain of all time.

Anyway, Preminger’s plan was to steal all the kingdom’s gold and then use it as a bargaining chip to marry Princess Anneliese (in order to become a prince and take over the kingdom).

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However, the problem with this is that King Dominick is going to marry Anneliese instead! So Preminger just goes ahead and kidnaps Princess Anneliese until the wedding gets called off. As you do.

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Who’s there to save the day? Enter, Erika! Since they look so similar, Erika dresses up like the princess while Julian runs off to find out where Anneliese is.

Spoiler: Julian ends up getting kidnapped himself as well.

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While Julian and Anneliese are off being kidnapped, Erika falls in love with King Dominick herself. They sing a really nice song together, called “If You Love Me For Me.”

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Back over to Preminger, who has discovered that Erika is a fraud! (Since he was the one to kidnap Anneliese in the first place)

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Erika gets sent off to jail, but manages to escape by stealing the keys from the guard. Princess Anneliese and Julian also escape.

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Princess Anneliese ends up marrying Julian, and Erika marries King Dominick.

And that’s the plot!

So, let’s discuss! My favourite thing about this film is that the storyline is actually pretty complicated! It probably has one of the most complicated plots in all Barbie movies, which means the story is really engaging. There were lots of twists and turns that I wasn’t expecting. I couldn’t include them all in the summary because I didn’t want to make things too confusing, but lots more things happen that are really quite exciting!

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I really like the character development, too. I feel like all the characters (even Preminger’s sidekicks, Nick and Nack!) are really dynamic and fleshed-out. All of the characters actually contribute something to the story! (Unlike in more modern movies, where there are often two sidekicks who are basically the exact same person, *cough* Taylor and Carrie).

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One thing I like about this film is the setting -it’s very picturesque. A sweet town with a gorgeous, soft pink castle. The whole film is washed with pastel colours, and it’s very pleasing to look at. It’s one of those things I really like about older Barbie films!

Plus, the clothing is really nice. I love the outfits, and the way the character’s hair moves. The facial expresses are really good; very expressive, and it really contributes to help the audience understand what that character is thinking and feeling.

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However, the animation is clearly, clearly at 2004 standards. It has aged terribly. The books in the background don’t even look like real books! They’re just rectangles! You can hardly see the details in the characters from long distances! Some of the animation is incorrect, too (eg; when Erika is singing, Anneliese is animated instead).

Overall, this film looks very poor in comparison to other films produced in 2004, such as   Shrek 2 or The Incredibles, for example, which still look crisp and nice to this day. It has major VCR vibes.

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This is actually the first Barbie musical, so this wouldn’t be a proper review if I didn’t mention the songs as well!

Free

This song is really good! It’s one of my favourite Barbie movie songs ever. My favourite part is when they’re stepping out onto the balcony and they sing “I close my eyes and feel myself rise, a thousand miles away. I could take flight, but would it be right? My conscience tells me stay.” I think this says a lot about the characters, and how they are willing to take responsibility and do what’s needed to help others.

Another important point about this song is that it gives us hints about the story. For example, Anneliese sings “I’m beginning to realise that every present comes with strings,” which means that all the gifts she receives as a princess actually come with strings attached.

How Can I Refuse?

This is another good one! It’s Preminger’s evil songs, and it’s filled with lots of secret meanings as well. For example, Preminger sings “I’ll be as big as Charlemagne,” who was a famous king of the Franks (modern-day France) back in the 700s. This song is really fun, and not cheesy at all. It’s really good, and another reason why I love Preminger so much!

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I Am A Girl Like You

This song is sung by Erika and Princess Anneliese, when they meet for the first time and realise they look similar. I don’t like it that much, but I suppose it’s okay. I don’t listen to it in my free time like I do with the others.

To Be A Princess

Julian and Erika sing this song, when Julian is teaching Erika how to act like a princess. It’s okay – I don’t like it that much. I don’t listen to it in my free time, but I don’t actively dislike it as much as I dislike The Cat’s Meow. It’s just kind of ‘whatever.’

The Cat’s Meow

Erika sings this while in the bath, to her cat. It’s a very odd song. I don’t like it, it’s a bit cheesy.

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If You Love Me For Me

This is the song that Erika and King Dominick sing together, it’s really cute! Again, I love this song a lot. The lyrics are done really well, and it sounds nice. Dominick sings “what you see may be deceiving, truth lies underneath the skin,” which is a nod to how Erika is deceiving Dominick by pretending to be Anneliese, but still truthfully in love with him.

Written In Your Heart

Again, I really love this song! It’s sweet, and it sounds really nice. The lyrics are really good. My favourite part goes “although you may not know where your gifts may lead, and it may not show at the start, when you live your dream, you’ll find destiny is written in your heart.” Very cute!

On My Way

One of my favourites again! (see video above) This song plays during the credits, and is more of a “modern pop song.” It sounds like a real, proper song, not a song from a Barbie film. If that makes sense!

AND GET THIS -the singer was literally eleven when she sung that song! At first I thought this video was only a cover, but then I found out the singer, Sara Niemietz, was born in 1992, and 2003 minus 1992 equals 11! (She was also in PollyWorld! And on Glee!)

I think it would have been cool if they included a little interview in the bonus features, because I think that’s pretty damn amazing?? Wow.

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Another thing I want to talk about is the fan-theory that Queen Genevieve is actually Princess Genevieve (just an older version), from Barbie in the 12 Dancing Princesses. I used to believe this for a long time! It’s something that was commonly thrown around in the Barbie movies community; I read it on Fanpop and Tumblr quite often.

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But then, I saw this post on Tumblr, which suggests that it isn’t so – because remember how quickly Princess Genevieve was able to tell that Rowena was evil? Whereas Queen Genevieve didn’t work out that Preminger was evil right up until the very end.

My mind has definitely changed on this matter. I think it’s just a coincidence now.

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And noww, I just wanted to quickly talk about these images! I’ve shared them on the blog before, because I often see them floating around the Internet, but I wanted to bring them back. I think they’re really cool! They come from the Princess and the Pauper storybook.

Isn’t it amazing how they created this whole little replica town?? Just for a storybook? Amazing! I wish they would put this much detail into things nowadays.

LOOK AT THIS! A tiny replica castle! With a replica wig! And look at that detail! I wish they had actually sold this dress, even if just a special Collectors version.

A tiny mine! And look at Preminger, peeping through the door! I am so impressed.

2 thoughts on “Barbie: The Princess and the Pauper (2004) Movie Review

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