The Barbie movies raised a generation, and pretty soon they will be coming to streaming services. Not sure which films to start with? We’ve got the best ones covered.
For many young kids born in the 1990s, the Barbie films were a pivotal media movement in their childhoods.
Like the Disney films, Barbie often adapted classic stories – though Barbie actually did Rapunzel before Disney did – and inserted herself in a character. And with cute animal sidekicks, sparkly dresses, and legitimately good songs, kids lapped it up.
And with Greta Gerwig’s Barbie film – starring Margot Robbie and Ryan Gosling – coming out next year, it’s important to go back to Barbie’s roots on the big screen.
When and where can I watch these Barbie films?
Good news to all Barbie lovers, as four of her most popular animated films will be coming to Netflix today, August 18!
Now you can relive your childhood by binge-watching your favourites of the overall 39 Barbie films, including the ones we’ve ranked below.
Which Barbie films are the best?
While art is subjective, these films tend to be deemed the best by fans. This may be due to their stories, their characters, their songs, or just how plain nostalgic they are.
Naturally, not every Barbie film is listed, and there are a few missing ones which definitely still deserve a place on this list. So if you feel like a certain Barbie movie should be here, we probably agree with you!
Now, without further ado, let’s get ranking!
10. Barbie in the 12 Dancing Princesses (2006)
While there are arguably too many side characters to really care about any of them, Barbie in the 12 Dancing Princesses is still a fun movie. Though you may find that poison is a concerningly common trope within the Barbie film franchise.
Loosely based on the German fairy tale, this movie is about the power of dance, and how creativity can prevent one’s spirit from being broken. And in a day and age where the arts are becoming a more and more exclusive industry, we all may need to re-watch this film.
9. Barbie and the Three Musketeers (2009)
This is the most modern film on this list, as the more iconic Barbie films arguably hit their prime in the early 2000s. Barbie with a sword was a great idea from the get go, and while this story does deviate from the source material, it’s a nice introduction to the tale for those who may have never heard of it before.
The action is fun and exciting, and the message of working hard and believing in yourself is heartfelt. Plus it’s always great to see the other classic Barbie characters – namely Summer, Niki, and Tessa – make an appearance.
8. Barbie Fairytopia: Mermaidia (2006)
Mermaidia was one of the first times that Barbie did a spin-off movie, and it was a great first attempt. The plot involves Elina – who was initially a fairy in the Fairytopia film – travelling to Mermaidia to save her friend Nalu, the merman prince. This film disregards the idea that Barbie is a helpless individual and a bad role model for girls, as this film has her saving the day throughout.
Mermaids were a huge thing during the early 2000s, and this film heavily capitalised on that. Who couldn’t love the bright colors and gorgeous mermaid tale designs? Not this kid, that’s for sure.
7. Barbie & the Diamond Castle (2008)
Barbie films tend to shine when they focus on the relationships between women, and this film is a prime example of that. An enchanted mirror puts two friends, Liana and Alexa, to the test, and it gives a great message about the importance of female friendship, while also providing some fabulous musical moments.
The reason that this film isn’t ranked higher is due to the fact that the male romantic leads are pretty unlikeable and chauvinistic, and they don’t get any better until pretty near the film’s end, when it’s arguably too late.
6. Barbie as the Island Princess (2007)
Yes, the elephant is creepy. Yes, the elephant should not have human eyes. But disregarding that, this movie is actually pretty good. This story shows off Barbie’s self sufficiency in a way that outshines the other films, and it’s about time, considering how many careers and skillsets she’s supposed to have.
The plot follows a young woman who grows up on a tropical island after a shipwreck, and when she meets Prince Antonio, she must join civilisation once again. So it’s somewhat like Disney’s Tarzan, but with more characters attempting to poison other characters, for some reason.
5. Barbie: Fairytopia (2005)
If you watch this film for any reason, it’s so you can understand this meme. Bibble is an odd character yes, but that doesn’t stop this film from making its audience dream of becoming fairies. The film manages to have some good messages about overcoming bullying, and that having less resources than those around you doesn’t diminish your worth.
The world of Fairytopia is colorful and imaginative, rivalling that of the Tinkerbell movies. Sure, some of the animated creatures are nightmare fuel in hindsight, but that didn’t stop kids from enjoying it at the time!
4. Barbie of Swan Lake (2003)
Admit it, this was your introduction to Swan Lake. To be fair, the film does the ballet justice, especially with the beautiful gowns that Barbie’s Odette gets to wear. The villains are a mix of scary and awkward, which has somewhat become part of the Barbie franchises’ charm.
Now, the main reason that this film isn’t ranked slightly higher is because the child characters are featured much more prominently than in other films. And while we all love the Barbie movies, we can all agree that the creepily animated children are often the worst parts of them.
3. Barbie as Rapunzel (2002)
I’ll admit, this was the first Barbie movie I ever watched, so I am a little biased. But Barbie can smugly say that they did Rapunzel before Disney did – and when re-watching, you can see some concerningly odd similarities.
The magic paintbrush is a fantastic idea, and it led to a million little girls imagining that their paintbrushes were magic too. The romance is simple, but nice. The animal sidekicks can be pretty hit and miss, but they are all memorable, especially the weasel that belongs to the film’s villain, Mother Gothel, who is definitely an icon herself.
2. Barbie in the Nutcracker (2001)
This film was what kicked off the Barbie movie franchise, and boy was it a good way to start. It was quite a risk going for a Christmas themed movie straight out the gate, as that would cage viewing parties into only one portion of the year. But thankfully its quality outstripped its limitations.
The adventure is exciting, the villains intimidating, and the relationship between Clara and the Nutcracker heart-warming. The film manages to stay relatively true to the tale, even featuring ballet performances throughout, though the early 2000s animation does become rather apparent during these sequences. But stilted animation is all part of these movies’ charm!
1. Barbie as the Princess and the Pauper (2004)
Between fans of the Barbie movies, there’s really no contest. Everyone agrees that Princess and the Pauper is the best movie. Not only does it have the best songs – “I’m Just Like You” is an absolutely earworm – but it also has the best leads, the best – and most camply iconic – villain, and it is probably the best known Barbie film to this day.
Once again, Barbie films shine when they focus on the friendship between two female characters. Not that the romantic relationships in this film are bad, far from it, each pairing feels genuine and Julian is absolutely the best male lead in any of the Barbie films.
So what are you waiting for? Go and re-watch these films on Netflix right now!