Ok everyone get your girlie on and let’s do Christmas Carol Barbie style. I mentioned the Barbie movies in my post Consider Your Audience. They, along with the Tinker Bell movies, do a good job producing content for the vastly underserved girl 4-8 market. A lot is made for both boys and girls and of course you have the occasional Frozen and Tangled but I’m glad these series exist for girls looking for good stories they can enjoy.
Barbie in A Christmas Carol is the 14th Barbie film and was made in 2008. It does not have the production value of some of the earlier films like Barbie as Rapunzel 2002 or Barbie of Swan Lake 2003. My favorite is Barbie in the 12 Dancing Princesses 2006. But this is passable animation for a direct to video release. It’s the very stark, low cost CG (and I would prefer hand drawn) but I didn’t mind it.
The voice work and music is always good in the Barbie movies and is here; although no big names except Kelly Sheridan returns as Barbie. They take a few different touches to make the story work within the Barbie world but unlike Smurfs the essence of the story is there.
Differences: Obviously big difference is it is in Barbie world and all the key characters are women. We start out with little sister Kelly not wanting to go to the charity ball and wanting to stay at home (who has a charity ball on Christmas day but nonetheless).
Kelly says she hates Christmas so Barbie tells her sister a story about a Victorian opera diva named Eden. Barbie then becomes our narrator for the Christmas Carol story.
Scrooge: Eden Starling is a diva opera singer who has been raised by her Aunt Marie to practice and shut the world out. She has decided to make her team, including her best friend Catherine (Cratchit in the story) work over Christmas for their new show. She has airs and doesn’t respect anyone even her best friend who she accuses of working on another show on the side (Catherine is a costume designer).
Aunt Marie has a saying “in a selfish world, only the selfish survive” and this has become Eden’s mantra. So it is no doubt a surprise when Jacob Marley is in fact Aunt Marie. I thought it was kind of clever that Marie does not have cash boxes on her chains but mirrors.
She tells her she was wrong about the world being selfish and that it is good and loving.
Past comes and is a big Eden Starling fangirl which I thought was kind of clever and funny. She takes her back to her childhood when Marie was making her practice on Christmas but she sneaks out and spends the day with Catherine.
Marie is definitely a beast and a pretty chilling character. It was a little bit of an interesting take to have Jacob and Cratchit characters in this story so intimately a part of the entire story not just present. I liked that.
Present takes Eden to see her colleagues angry at Eden for making them work and throwing tomatoes at her. At first she is outraged and then she see’s Catherine going to her other show. It turns out it is a choral program for an orphanage. One of the orphans is named Tammy (Tiny Tim of course). They all love and idolize Eden.
Future shows Eden as a poor washed up singer. She fired her team for being late on Christmas and then had one disaster after another including a hypnotist that was funny. Catherine has become a famous designer but is bitter and has accepted the ‘in a selfish world, the selfish succeed’ mantra. I thought that was an interesting take to have Cratchit become Scrooge in the future. Never seen that before . She can’t bare to see her friend this way and realizes she needs to change.
Strengths- I think fans of the series will enjoy this entry. It’s about as good a job as could be done in this world with this story. I liked the voicework and a few of the touches like Aunt Marie and the message about selfishness were effective. The idea of a diva barbie fits and I enjoyed it. I’m glad they went with traditional carols instead of new songs and they are all performed well. I also thought the idea of Marley being basically Scrooge’s mother and Cratchit being his best friend (girls in this version of course) was interesting. I also liked the design of Aunt Marie with the mirrors on the chain.
Weaknesses- the animation is strictly on a direct to video level. I am sure some people would find it very garish and ugly. It is kind of jerky and can be unpleasant at times to look at, but only in moments and then it is good again. It is certainly not a traditional take on the story but most of the components are there (Marley, Cratchit, Tiny Tim, Spirits) but I’m sure purists would have an issue with it. There are better Barbie movies but this is in the top half I would say.
It is made to target 4-8 year old little girls and I think it does its job quite well. So if you have a girl in that age range sit down and watch it together. You will enjoy the holiday memories!