Universal // 2009 // 81 Minutes // Not Rated
Reviewed by Judge Brett Cullum // September 15th, 2009
Don't mess with the dress!
Synergy and dolls have become a peculiar coupling, especially when it comes to marketing a popular fashion toy who recently celebrated her fiftieth year on retail shelves. Barbie has been the most recognizable and popular brand of girls entertainment for over half a century. But lately Barbie has had a harder time holding on to her coveted crown as the multimedia sensation of the Bratz dolls have come out with their own line of plastic toys, movies, and video games. So Barbie has to continually strive to stay hip and cool. Barbie and the Three Musketeers inserts our fifty year old "teenage fashion model" into the stodgy French literary classic by Alexandre Dumas. Take that edgy street divas!
Barbie (voice actor Kelly Sheridan, My Little Pony: A Very Minty Christmas) plays a seventeen year old character called Corrine who is the daughter of d'Artagnan who dreams of following in her dad's footsteps. She goes to Paris to seek out her father's mentor M. de Tréville, legendary captain of the Musketeers. Of course upon arriving in the city and meeting the leader of the royal security force, the doll is told girls are not allowed to become musketeers. So our heroine gets a job cleaning the castle which puts her next to three other girls who ironically yearn to be swashbuckling peace keepers as well. They all find an old housekeeper who trains them in the arts of sword play and how to wield various weapons, including the use of hand fans and rhythmic gymnastic ribbons to baffle your foes. The quartet uncovers a plot to kill the prince before he becomes king, but nobody will believe them. So the girls have to go all Charlie's Angels undercover, and swear it's "all for one and one for all" as they try to ruin the scheme. Did I mention they also make really cute outfits where the skirts rip off to become capes? It can't all be fighting; this is Barbie. Accessories are a way of life!
This is a fine "straight to DVD" feature for kids, but I can't imagine too many adults that will find much to cheer about. The animation is CGI, and it doesn't look spectacular. Imagine Shrek made for a fraction of the cost without as much passion or artistry. Still, the palette is pleasing with vivid colors and little girls should find it engaging enough. The sound mix is all right with a surprisingly catchy and fun soundtrack. I really liked the songs in this one, and found myself wondering if they were on iTunes yet. There's even an all girl cover of the EMF hit "Unbelievable" with new lyrics to fit the plot. The voice actors seem to be having fun with Tim Curry (The Rocky Horror Picture Show) standing out as the obvious bad guy.
There are extras which include one of those manufactured gag reels where animated characters "goof" up. There are also a couple of music videos. One is simply a montage of the film with an accompanying song, and the other is the sidekick kitten singing "Unbelievable" with feline back up singers and dancers. There are two live-action featurettes, one is kind of creepy and the other inspirational. First up we have the spooky look at a New York fashion show celebrating Barbie at fifty where notable fashion designers and Heidi Klum give props to Mattel's toy. You get to see models stomping down a runway in sultry outfits inspired by Barbie through the decades, and it is somewhat disturbing in concept and execution. In the next live segment we thankfully get one of the songwriters who tells her story of how she got to write songs for this Barbie movie. Whew!
If you or your little girl (or maybe that special boy) dig Barbie then this story should be fine and dandy. It has no offensive material, and promotes the idea girls can be anything they want if given a chance and the right accessories. There is a line of dolls that go with this, and I imagine they make a great pair that will soon be appearing next to birthday cakes or under Christmas trees all around the country. It seems most people agree that Barbie in the Nutcracker has a better plot, and Barbie of Swan Lake wins for fairytale styling. Barbie and the Three Musketeers is fine middle of the road entertainment, but it doesn't ever seem to rise above that. It's decidedly retro of Barbie to become a French musketeer, and maybe at fifty that's how she plans to thwart the advances of the Bratz empire. Barbie gave up being urban and edgy after her tattoos came under fire, including the infamous "tramp stamp" showing off Ken's name that came with Totally Stylin' Tattoos Barbie. So now it's time to play it safe and do literary classics and fairytales. If I were going to cast a fifty year old woman in to a story where she played a seventeen year old, I would rather see her in historical France than the modern world.
Guilty of being pretty in pink, Barbie can be anything she wants to be. Even
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Scales of Justice
* 1.78:1 Anamorphic
* Dolby Digital 5.1 Surround (English)
* Dolby Digital 5.1 Surround (Spanish)
* Dolby Digital 2.0 Stereo (French)
Running Time: 81 Minutes
Release Year: 2009
MPAA Rating: Not Rated
* Music Videos
* Official Site