20+ years of Barbie movies: A comprehensive ranking

by Rana Schenke | 13 Jan 2022

Industry Commentary, Op-Ed

If you were a kid in the early 2000’s or anytime after that, you might be familiar with the animated Barbie films — the first of which was released over 20 years ago in 2001. 


When I was a kid, I used to watch these movies all the time with my younger sisters, and we loved reenacting scenes from the movies with our Barbie dolls.


In 2020 after the pandemic hit, we decided to rewatch all of the Barbie films from our childhood to the present and rate them. Some of them we hadn’t seen before, and some were childhood favorites. Regardless of our previous opinions on them, we decided to watch them all and record our thoughts/ratings for each.


This is our definitive ranking of the currently released Barbie films (yes, “Barbie: Big City, Big Dreams” and “Barbie: Princess Adventure” are here!), including a rating and short review for each. 



38. Barbie and Her Sisters in A Puppy Chase (2016)


Overall rating: 1/5


Thoughts: I don’t know what happened to Barbie in this movie, but she was incredibly irresponsible and selfish throughout. She had one job — get Chelsea to her competition on time — but didn’t care about that at all. My sisters and I felt bad for Chelsea the whole time because all she wanted to do was practice her dance so she’d be ready for her competition, but Barbie just dragged them along to do what she wanted, with no regards for the reason they were actually there. This movie was not enjoyable to watch and I would not recommend it.



37. Barbie and the Secret Door (2014)


Overall rating: 1.3/5


Thoughts: This movie is … not good. It’s a musical, but there are only about three different songs that they put with different lyrics to make more songs, and they weren’t good. Alexa was boring and the sidekick characters were annoying. I will say that the choice of villain was interesting and the settings were nice to look at. The ending of this film, however, was absolutely awful, and the main reason it’s ranked so low. 



36. Barbie in Princess Power (2015)


Overall rating: 1.3/5


Thoughts: Why was Kara a princess AND a superhero? It’s a little much, even for a Barbie movie. My sisters and I found Kara very annoying and self-centered, and we didn’t like the other characters much, either. Most of them were very generic, and even the villain wasn’t memorable. The superhero concept was interesting, but I wish they would have gone in a different direction with it.



35. Barbie: A Fairy Secret (2011)


Overall rating: 1.3/5


Thoughts: This movie is kind of messed up when you think about it. People are drugged, kidnapped, manipulated and more. My sisters and I didn’t like this movie; it had an interesting concept, but it was poorly executed and the characters weren’t good. The exception is Raquelle, who is great in everything.



34. Barbie: Spy Squad (2016)


Overall rating: 2.3/5


Thoughts: This is one of my least-favorite Barbie movies. The reason it’s not at the bottom is because my sisters like it more than I do and rated it accordingly. The spy concept is cool, but I don’t feel like it was well-executed. It comes across as a small child’s idea of what a spy movie is. The main characters are also not very good spies and failed every mission they went on, so it’s not clear why they were brought back to help later in the movie. Perhaps the agency leaders thought, “Well, everything’s so messed up right now that there’s no way they can make it worse.” I liked the villain twist, though.



33. Barbie: A Fashion Fairytale (2010)


Overall rating: 2.7/5


Thoughts: This movie was confusing on so many levels. First, it felt like the movies where Barbie is telling a story to one of her younger sisters to teach a lesson, except Barbie was the Kelly role and the other characters were putting on the story for her to teach her a lesson. Which we never saw her use in the end anyway. Also, the whole mistaken break-up plot was weird, and Barbie just takes Ken back in the end, no questions asked. It was nice how we saw the villain get some character development, and the Paris setting was interesting and different.



32. Barbie and Her Sisters in A Pony Tale (2013)


Overall rating: 2.7/5


Thoughts: This movie was pretty boring. Also, why was Barbie trying to kidnap that horse?



31. Barbie and Her Sisters in The Great Puppy Adventure (2015)


Overall rating: 2.7/5


Thoughts: The title of this film is confusing once you’ve watched it — the puppies are in the movie, but they don’t add anything to the plot, so I’m not sure why it’s called “The Great Puppy Adventure.” My sisters and I didn’t like how Barbie acted in this movie; she was very dismissive of her sisters’ goal to find the treasure and didn’t help them until the end. We liked the treasure hunt concept, though. It was also cool to see Barbie’s hometown.



30. Barbie: Chelsea and the Lost Birthday (2021)


Overall rating: 2.7/5


Thoughts: This movie was kind of weird. It followed Chelsea for the most part as she realizes her birthday was skipped and goes on an adventure to get it back. Turns out, she just fell asleep and was dreaming the whole thing, all while her family was desperately searching for her because she had run off. This movie was definitely geared towards kids Chelsea’s age or younger, and I imagine they would like it, but there just wasn’t enough there to really engage me and my sisters.



29. Barbie in the Pink Shoes (2013)


Overall rating: 2.7/5


Thoughts: This movie had a pretty weak plot and wasn’t very plausible. The fantasy world was interesting, though, and the dance sequences were cool. It kind of felt like one of those movies where the protagonist falls asleep and dreams about this fantasy world that’s like a weird version of the one she lives in, with people she knows playing other roles — like “The Wizard of Oz,” maybe. You pretty much know from the beginning what’s going to happen, and there weren’t any interesting twists to mix it up. It’s not my favorite Barbie movie, but it’s definitely not the worst.



28. Barbie Presents: Thumbelina (2009)


Overall rating: 3/5


Thoughts: This is one of those Barbie movies that deviates from the normal storylines, but unfortunately, it’s not very exciting. It’s cool that it has an environmental focus, but I feel like it could have been more interesting. Also, Makena had great character development, but I don’t feel like Thumbelina did at all, even though she was the titular character. If she had, it would have given the storyline some more depth.



27. Barbie in A Mermaid Tale 2 (2012)


Overall rating: 3/5


Thoughts: This movie basically has the same plot as the first Mermaid Tale movie, except this time Merliah already knows she’s a mermaid and she has a frenemy to accompany her as she tries to save the kingdom. My sisters and I liked that Kylie and Merliah became friends over the course of the movie. Because the plot is so similar, this movie is predictable, making it not very exciting to watch.



26. Barbie in a Mermaid Tale (2010)


Overall rating: 3/5


Thoughts: This movie isn’t particularly memorable. It also felt too convenient; Merliah was able to complete the tasks she needed easily, and there was never really a question of whether she would succeed or not. It was pretty dark that they had Merliah push Eris into the whirlpool in the end — no one knew where the whirlpool went, so Merliah might have just killed her own aunt.



25. Barbie and the Three Musketeers (2009)


Overall rating: 3/5


Thoughts: The plot of this movie was ok, but could have been fleshed out a little more to make it more interesting. My sisters and I liked that there were four main characters instead of the usual one or two, but they weren’t developed very well. We don’t know the backstories of any of the other girls besides Barbie’s character. All three of us were really annoyed by the animal characters in this film. 



24. Barbie: Princess Adventure (2020)


Overall rating: 3.3/5


Thoughts: This movie was ok. The storyline wasn’t very plausible — for example, Barbie’s puppy sneaks into her bag at the airport and is somehow not discovered until she is through security and on the plane. This movie was also a musical. The songs were ok, but, for the most part, not very memorable. My sisters and I shipped Barbie and Amelia immediately, but there was also a lot of tension between Ken and Barbie because Ken wanted to tell Barbie how he feels about her and she kept unintentionally shutting him down. That part was interesting, but the rest of the plot followed the Princess and the Pauper plot pretty closely, making it rather predictable.



23. Barbie in a Christmas Carol (2008)


Overall rating: 3.3/5


Thoughts: It was an interesting choice to depict Barbie in the Scrooge role for this movie. Barbie’s characters are always so nice and kind, so it’s weird to see her being mean and spiteful to everyone. The most confusing part of the movie was why Barbie chose to tell Kelly this story in particular. Kelly is upset because her family is holding a party that she’s expected to go to, but she just wants to spend time with her family baking cookies like they usually do. Barbie tells her a story to convince her to go — but it’s a story about someone who is mean and selfish and tries to ruin everyone’s Christmas. Is she saying Kelly is mean and selfish and wants to ruin everyone’s Christmas? We don’t know. The story is an interesting adaptation of the original, though.



22. Barbie: A Perfect Christmas (2011)


Overall rating: 3.7/5


Thoughts: This movie wasn’t the worst, but it wasn’t the best, either. It had a great depiction of sibling relationships, no love interest, no annoying animals and a nice message, but the animation is not that great and parts of the plot are not plausible or don’t make sense.



21. Barbie: Dolphin Magic (2017)


Overall rating: 3.7/5


Thoughts: This movie had a cute story but wasn’t very exciting. My sisters and I found it interesting that it was set in the same world and had the same characters as the Dreamhouse Adventures series, but we would have liked more plot or background information to flesh out the storyline more. The puppies were annoying, but Chelsea and the sisters were not and we liked how they were included.



20. Barbie: Mariposa and the Fairy Princess (2013)


Overall rating: 3.7/5


Thoughts: This movie doesn’t quite live up to the first Mariposa movie, but it’s still interesting. We get to see another kingdom outside of the one Mariposa is in, and she makes a new friend. Princess Catania was nice and I wish we’d gotten to see more of her; her backstory with the villain was very interesting. The villain was introduced somewhat late in the plot, which made the rest of the movie a lot faster-paced. The movie was pretty good overall, but not quite as good as the original. 



19. Barbie: Video Game Hero (2017)


Overall rating: 3.7/5


Thoughts: This movie was interesting; it had a unique concept as far as Barbie movies go, and the different animation styles were pretty cool. Like the original Barbie movies, this one had a framing story where Barbie is interacting with one of her sisters. This time, it’s Chelsea, but although the framing story related to the main plot of the movie, it was pretty boring on its own and the movie could have done without it. This movie was interesting in that it was different, but the story itself didn’t have that emotional core that makes for a truly great Barbie movie.



18. Barbie: Star Light Adventure (2016)


Overall rating: 3.7/5


Thoughts: This movie has AMAZING animation. It’s truly a step up in quality over the previous Barbie films, and it’s beautiful to look at. As far as the storyline went, it was interesting but kind of tame. It was basically a tame version of Star Wars, mostly because it lacked significant world-building to differentiate it and the threat was very abstract. There wasn’t the type of action or excitement you’d expect from a sci-fi movie. This is one of those Barbie movies that is so different from the others that it’s worth watching solely for that, but it’s also an interesting watch in its own right.



17. Barbie: The Princess and the Popstar (2012)


Overall rating: 4/5


Thoughts: This movie is a modern-style remake of “Barbie as the Princess and the Pauper,” and while it doesn’t have quite the same magic as the original, it’s still entertaining. The songs were cute and I liked the performance aspect. My sisters and I thought the cover of “To be a Princess” was kind of silly, but we liked how it was the two girls singing it together. It was nice that instead of the romance subplot, we had the two girls becoming friends instead. All three of us thought it was weird that Tori showed Keira the magical plant immediately, since it was supposed to be a big secret that only the royal family knew about. I also would have liked to see better character development from Tori other than just realizing that she doesn’t know anything about her kingdom, and any character development from Keira. I suppose she went from having a creative block to being able to write a new song, but she didn’t get any more than that and I think that’s a shame. It’s still a fun movie, though, and my sisters and I enjoyed it.



16. Barbie in Rock ‘N Royals (2015)


Overall rating: 4/5


Thoughts: This movie is basically the better version of “Barbie: Princess and the Popstar.” Highlights of this movie include interesting main characters and an absence of talking animals. I also liked how this movie didn’t have a villain, but it was just people making poor choices that caused the problems. The music was hit or miss; some of the songs were good, but others were dull and I wasn’t a fan. My sisters and I really liked Erika; I thought she had good character development and my little sister loved her hairstyle. I didn’t like how they tried to force a love interest on her, though. This movie is entertaining and the camp concept is a unique one in the Barbie film universe.



15. Barbie Fairytopia: Magic of the Rainbow (2007)


Overall rating: 4/5


Thoughts: I really liked this movie as a kid, but rewatching it, I didn’t like it as much. I think this was mainly because it doesn’t seem to fit well with the other two movies. First off, Elina tried to attack Sunburst in one of the scenes and they had to be forced apart to stop them fighting, yet Elina was nowhere near that rage-filled when dealing with Laverna. It seemed out-of-character. The other issue I had was that none of the plot, besides Laverna being the villain, was set up in the previous movies at all. In “Fairytopia,” we see the mermaids briefly, and then “Mermaidia” returns to that theme. Nothing from the main plot of this movie was set up before, though, so suddenly we’re introduced to all these new types of fairies and new magic powers and it doesn’t seem to fit well in the context of the previous movie. I do still enjoy this movie, however, because it’s more exciting and the stakes are a bit higher than the previous movies. We also get to see Laverna have more action, which is cool.



14. Barbie and the Magic of Pegasus (2005)


Overall rating: 4/5


Thoughts: I didn’t like this movie much as a kid, but it was a lot more entertaining on the rewatch. Wenlock, the villain, had some hilarious lines, and the dynamic between Aiden and Annika was great. My sister thought they had a great love story and enjoyed it more than most of the romance plots from other movies. The sidekick in this movie, Shiver the polar bear, is definitely in the top five of most annoying animal sidekicks. I guess the writers thought Annika and Aiden were too smart to do some of the things that would put them in danger or add tension, so they had the bear do it instead. At least it doesn’t talk. This was the first Barbie movie that’s not an adaptation of a preexisting story, and it’s an entertaining watch.



13. Barbie Fairytopia: Mermaidia (2006)


Overall rating: 4/5


Thoughts: If you liked Bibble in “Barbie: Fairytopia,” you’ll love him even more in this film. Besides Bibble, there are some great comedic moments from Max the Fungus and Laverna, and we get to see more of Nalu and meet Nori in this film, too. The plot of this film is a bit more convoluted than the previous film’s, and there were some parts that didn’t make sense (Ex. Elina crying underwater, the beginning of the film), but my sisters and I still enjoyed it. My little sister was disappointed that Elina and Nalu had no chemistry, but we all agreed that Elina and Nori had great chemistry. It’s too bad Nori isn’t in the third film. If you liked the first Fairytopia movie, this one is definitely worth the watch. It’s also the first Barbie mermaid film, which is pretty cool too. 



12. Barbie: The Pearl Princess (2014)


Overall rating: 4/5


Thoughts: This movie is basically “Tangled” but with mermaids, and it’s great. The plot is pretty predictable, but I liked the characters and the villain was pretty evil. My sisters and I enjoyed his sidekick, the eel, the most. This movie did have a love interest, but he didn’t do anything and the romance plot went nowhere. I felt like Lumina was a good role model because she showed kindness and forgiveness to Sylla, and also befriended Spike and helped the prince. This movie also had really nice animation, and is one of the best Barbie mermaid movies.



11. Barbie: Mariposa (2008)


Overall rating: 4/5


Thoughts: While this movie takes place in the same universe as Fairytopia, it explores a different world and type of fairies, which is pretty neat. My sisters and I enjoyed this movie; Mariposa was different from the standard Barbie protagonist — we liked seeing her different personality, and that she had a different voice actor than the one who did the previous Barbie films. Some parts of the plot were a little confusing and the sidekick creature was annoying, but this was a solid movie overall.



10. Barbie as the Island Princess (2007)


Overall rating: 4/5


Thoughts: I actually didn’t remember this movie very well before I rewatched it, but I did enjoy it. It’s a cute story and entertaining. My sisters and I found the elephant super annoying (probably the worst animal sidekick), but we shipped Sachi (the red panda) and Azul (the peacock). I felt like Sachi was trying to make Azul jealous throughout the movie and Azul just wasn't catching on because he's so self-absorbed, and I found that dynamic highly entertaining. This is my youngest sister’s favorite Barbie movie; she loves the songs and the story. This movie is cute, so I’d definitely recommend checking it out!



9. Barbie: Big City, Big Dreams (2021)


Overall rating: 4.3/5


Thoughts: I thought this movie was fantastic and really enjoyed it. Parts of it were rather predictable, but there were other moments that surprised me, too. My sisters and I shipped the two Barbies pretty much from the moment they met. (When Brooklyn Barbie sang the song to Malibu Barbie to convince her to come back, I teared up. No joke.) There were some minor things I thought could have been improved in this film, such as expanding on Brooklyn’s friend’s backstory, but for the run time, it was pretty well-plotted. I honestly think if the run time was a bit longer, it would have fixed all of the issues because there would have been more time to develop the story. This movie is the best Barbie movie released within the past five years, and I highly recommend it.



8. Barbie: Princess Charm School (2011)


Overall rating: 4.3/5


Thoughts: This movie is sweet and manages to capture the charm of many of the older Barbie films, with a similar “ordinary girl enters a world different than her own and finds herself” plot. The difference being, this story is not high fantasy like “Swan Lake” or “Rapunzel,” so it’s more relatable. My sisters and I liked the story, and we all thought Dame Devin was a great villain — she did things that went far beyond what many other Barbie villains had done, even if her demeanor didn’t come across as evil as, say, the Mouse King or Laverna. This movie did have some plot holes and fell into some of the traps that many Barbie films do, like including a “love interest” and annoying sidekicks who were irrelevant to the plot, but at least there were no talking animals! This is one of my personal favorite Barbie movies and it stood up to a rewatch, so I’d definitely recommend it.



7. Barbie: Fairytopia (2005)


Overall rating: 4.7/5


Thoughts: My sisters and I really enjoyed this movie. It’s the characters that make this one; we especially liked Laverna and Bibble. Laverna was a great villain with a lot of personality, although I do wish we could have gotten a little more backstory. Other characters, such as Azura, the guardians and the pixies who make fun of Elina, were entertaining as well. A few things could have used more explanation or clarification, such as why the “sickness” doesn’t affect Bibble, or Hue’s backstory. My little sister enjoyed the part with the merman prince, Nalu, and immediately started shipping him with Elina, but I appreciated that romance was not a plot point in this film. This is the first Barbie fairy movie and one of the best, so I highly recommend checking it out.



6. Barbie of Swan Lake (2003)


Overall rating: 4.7/5


Thoughts: The thing that stands out most about this movie is the amazing soundtrack. The music is beautiful and really draws you into the story. I’ve never seen the Swan Lake ballet, so I can’t comment on how this fares as an adaptation, but my sisters and I really enjoyed it. I will say that Lila is probably one of the most annoying animal sidekicks from a Barbie film, and a rewatch did not change my opinion. This movie had some good jokes and humorous moments, although some parts were cheesy or overdramatic. While this isn’t the most exciting Barbie movie, it has wonderful music and the costumes and landscapes are beautiful.



5. Barbie in the Nutcracker (2001)


Overall rating: 4.7/5


Thoughts: I liked the way the classic Nutcracker story was adapted in this movie. I hadn’t watched this movie in many years, so I’d forgotten how funny it was! My sisters appreciated the realism of the dancing and the animation of Clara’s hair. My little sister enjoyed the Clara x Prince Eric ship. Our main critiques were mostly related to plausibility (Ex. why was Kelly learning such an advanced dance? Why was Clara receiving a male guest in her nightgown during the Victorian era, especially when her uncle was so strict?), but overall, we enjoyed this film and found it entertaining.



4. Barbie as Rapunzel (2002)


Overall rating: 4.7/5


Thoughts: This is another movie that I hadn’t seen in a long time before rewatching it, and I really enjoyed it. It had a nice message and the characters were interesting, even Penelope. Most of the time, I find the animal sidekicks like Penelope really annoying, and while she was annoying at points, she actually had an important role for the plot and her own subplot, which I appreciated. My sisters and I all found Gothel’s backstory and motive for kidnapping Rapunzel interesting, although my little sister was hoping for a redemption arc for her and was disappointed when that didn’t happen. Overall, we appreciated the depth this movie had and really enjoyed it as an interpretation of the Rapunzel story.



3. Barbie in the 12 Dancing Princesses (2006)


Overall rating: 4.7/5


Thoughts: This movie is really cool to watch because dance is such an integral part of the plot; in many other Barbie movies, you could take out the dance sequences without affecting the plot, but this movie is all about dance. It also has a great villain; Rowena is one of the most evil and cruel villains seen in a Barbie film, so the conclusion is very satisfying. This movie unfortunately suffers from annoying animals, but it’s a Barbie movie, so that’s kind of expected. This is my middle sister’s favorite Barbie movie, and we have fond memories of it from when we were kids. 



2. Barbie as the Princess and the Pauper (2004)


Overall rating: 5/5


Thoughts: This Barbie film has a detailed plot, which makes it fun and interesting to watch. The songs in the movie are top notch, and my sisters and I all enjoyed the villain, Preminger. Another plus for this movie: while the cats talk, they don’t do it much and aren’t annoying like other animal sidekicks. My sisters appreciated that the Ken characters weren’t helpless like in some of the later films, and that they got singing time as well. One thing I wish wasn’t in the movie was the double wedding at the end; it seemed a little too perfect. My sisters and I all enjoyed this movie and would highly recommend it.


1. Barbie and the Diamond Castle (2008)


Overall rating: 5/5


Thoughts: This is my favorite Barbie movie. It’s a musical (which makes sense because it’s all about music), and the songs are fantastic. There’s even a villain song, which is something you don’t see much in the more recent Barbie musicals. It has a few plot holes and there are moments where quick thinking could have saved a lot of trouble, but it’s a lovely story overall.  I also like how although there are “love interests” for each girl, they don’t get together with them in the end like in many earlier Barbie movies. This movie focused more on the girls’ friendship than anything else, and the message came across perfectly. The only thing I would change about this movie would be to remove the puppies, but other than that, it’s amazing. The story is original and entertaining, and it’s just beautiful to look at as well. 

Barbie Barbie movies Barbie movies ranking barbie big city big dreams Barbie Princess and the Pauper Barbie in the Nutcracker Barbie as Rapunzel Barbie Princess Adventure Barbie Swan Lake Barbie Diamond Castle

Tait & Lily, Inventors of Betcha Can't!