Movie Reviews

Barbie in the 12 Dancing Princesses Movie Review (2006)

Barbie in the 12 Dancing Princesses (2006), is one of my favourite Barbie films ever. It is my #1 most-watched film, and I know all the lines.

I know what you’re thinking -“Holly, that’s impossible. You can’t possibly know all the lines!”

Trust me, I kid you not. I take these things very seriously!

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The film is set in a beautiful kingdom, surrounded by lush green mountains and forests. The main character, Princess Genevieve, is one of the 12 sisters heir to the throne. Genevieve is kind, clever and quick-thinking; everything you could want in a fairytale princess.

One of my favourite things about this film is how the film depicts the characters as individuals, rather than carbon-copies of one another. This is communicated to the audience not only by their style of dress and their hobbies, but also their use of language. For example, the eldest, Edeline, is always watching over her younger sisters and making decisions. For example, she is the one that finalises their decision to leave the kingdom.

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The twelve sisters are merrily living their lives -dancing, singing and playing in the castle, until the king’s cousin Rowena wanders into their lives. Their father, King Randolph, has invited Rowena to teach the girls how to behave as “proper princesses.” He is worried about their reputations, as the girls’ unladylike behaviour is the talk of the kingdom.

Despite the king’s best intentions, Rowena turns the girls’ lives upside-down. She  takes away their things, makes them wear dull grey clothes and forces them to clean the castle.

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The sisters find solace after they discover their late mother’s secret -their bedroom is a gateway to a magical dancing world! Secretly, the girls spend their nights dancing at the pavilion, finally free from Rowena and her nasty rules.

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Meanwhile, Rowena is secretly slipping poison into the king’s tea, who is slowly getting weaker and weaker. Despite being from royal heritage, Rowena is single, poor and grumpy. She wants the throne, and she’s going to do everything in her power to get it!

Rowena manipulates the girls into thinking the king doesn’t want them around anymore, and they run away to stay at the pavilion.

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Rowena convinces King Randolph to hand over the kingdom to her, and dies shortly after. After discovering things back in the kingdom have gone haywire, the girls return to the castle and Genevieve, our main character, battles against Rowena! Genevieve is victorious, and the sisters save their father using some magical water they collected from the pavillion.

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Why I Really Like This Film:

The music is really good. Like, really good. There are a variety of different songs in this film (all but one are instrumental), and they all are very uplifting and really lovely to listen to. The film’s theme song “Shine” is sung by Cassidy Ladden, who is also known for her songs in Barbie and the Diamond Castle and Barbie as the Island Princess. 

“Shine” was nominated for the most “Outstanding Original Song” in an animated film -funny, you don’t see many awards for Barbie movies nowadays! They used to win lots of awards. Anyway, the song is really lovely and has a really inspirational message.

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The dancing is really good. I find it interesting when people in the Youtube comment section say “the dancing is so unrealistic! It’s so bad! Real dancers don’t do those sort of things!”

Well, here’s a surprise for those people: The film’s dance scenes were literally motion-captured by professional ballerina Maria Kowroski from the New York City Ballet. Like, they are in no way “unrealistic” because they were literally done by a principal dancer and choreographed by a whole team of people.

I digress. The dancing is really good, and when I rewatched this film, it reminded me of why I started taking ballet lessons, and how beautiful ballet is.

However, I think there is one point (when the sisters are dancing at the pavilion) where the triplets dance en pointe. This is painfully unrealistic and would never happen in real life, because you definitely do not start pointe at five years old! This normally happens around eleven or twelve (Hadley and Isla’s age). It might have just been an animation mistake though.

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The animation is beautiful. From the design of the castle to the detail on the wallpaper, the animation and scenery (is that the right word?) is simply stunning. The nature scenes are especially wonderful! The girl’s dresses are very detailed and facial expressions always convey the character’s emotions and feelings to the audience.

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I really like the storyline. As I mentioned before, the characters are all very vivid with distinct personalities and interesting dialogue. However, the storyline is just as impressive! It’s full of surprises that you won’t expect. I won’t mention them here, in case you haven’t seen the film before, but it was really creative. The film unfolded at a decent pace, and there was some foreshadowing which I thought was really well done (such as Rowena standing exactly in front of the late Queen’s portrait, before the audience even knew she was the antagonist).

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The film’s message is really great. Halfway through the film, the youngest sister Lacey struggles because she isn’t “good at anything.” All the other sisters have a special talent or hobby, such as reading, horse-riding or sports, expect for her. Lacey feels upset because she is always falling over and messing things up.

Genevieve comforts Lacey, and explains that all of us have a difference that only we can make. She explains that being “good at something” isn’t the most important thing, and we are all special and unique in our own way.

This sense of indiviudality is something that is really highlighted in the film. King Randolph wants to make his daughters more ladylike, and doing so, he tries to take away their own individual personalities. At the end of the film, he realises his mistake and comes to accept his daughters as the “wild” girls they are.

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I know this is going to sound silly, but I also really like the girl’s hairstyles! There are many different styles shown throughout the film, and I think they are some of the best hairstyles in a Barbie film to date. I love how they have so many different looks!

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I guess I can’t review this film without mentioning Derek, huh?

Derek, the local cobbler, is Genevieve’s love interest in the film. Compared to her relationship with her sisters and father, Derek definitely takes a backseat in the film. However, he still plays an integral part of saving the day -and I’ll admit, he and the bird make a good duo!

Genevieve: (giving an inspirational speech) …But we have something Rowena doesn’t -the power of twelve! 

Felix: And what are we, invisible? (referring to Derek and himself, who were not acknowledged for their help)

Derek and Genevive have a cute relationship, and Derek is definitely a good guy -I mean, the poor bloke sold his horse to return a goblet for her! He also risked his life climbing up the castle to find Genevieve, which is pretty impressive. Their wedding at the end was cute, and that’s also a big plus for me.

I find it interesting that antagonists in Barbie films are quite evil, compared to modern-day villains who are significantly …less evil. Take Rowena for example -she poisons her cousin to take over the kingdom, and sends out a group of highly-trained knights to throw the princesses in the dungeon. That’s pretty evil, right?

And then compare that to, say, Princess Malucia, a ten-year-old princess who is not really evil at all! (from Barbie and the Secret Door)

Anyway, Rowena is pretty evil, but she isn’t as creative as Preminger (from Barbie: The Princess and the Pauper) or as sinister-looking as Philipe (from Barbie and the Three Musketeers).

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I suppose the one drawback of this film is the talking animals. I don’t have a problem with Felix the bird, because he actually interacts with the humans and makes funny commentary on what is happening, but the dialogue between Twyla the cat and Brutus the monkey is just annoying!

My sister was watching this film with me, and she mentioned that the wedding between Genevieve and Derek felt forced. While I think their wedding was a really sweet scene, I agree that it seemed a bit “shoved in there.” Especially considering Derek and Genevieve didn’t really interact that much during the film!

I suppose another “problem” with this film is the whole ordeal about the magical pavilion dance world. I guess it does seem a bit silly and corny, but honestly -it’s a Barbie movie about dancing princesses. What did you expect? It’s a sweet film nonetheless, and sometimes a bit of fairytale unrealism is nice!

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Overall, I really enjoy this movie. It’s very pleasant to watch, and there are no scenes where I thought “oh, just hurry up!” or “this is too cheesy!” Every scene was very carefully crafted and entertaining.

Have you seen this film before? If so, what do you think?


7 thoughts on “Barbie in the 12 Dancing Princesses Movie Review (2006)

  1. Yes, I totally agree with you! I’ve always loved this Barbie movie. It’s definitely in my top five, but I’m not 100% sure what my favorite is. I really like Princess Charm School, but Island Princess was really great, too! I might have to rewatch some of them and watch others (such as Fairytopia) for the first time. : )

    To be completely honest, I can’t even imagine what life would be like with 11 sisters. Genevieve seems to really get along with them, and I suppose it’d be nice to always have people around you, but I think it would get pretty chaotic at times.

    I’m not someone who has extensive knowledge about what having siblings is like, though. I have an older half-brother (who’s 30), and an older half-sister (who’s 28.) Not to give you my whole life story or anything (’cause that would no doubt be pretty boring for you to read), but my dad got married in New Jersey, where Kevin and Katie (my aforementioned half-siblings) were born, then he got divorced, moved to North Carolina, married again, had me, and then separated from my mom three years ago when I was twelve. But you see, because my siblings are so much older than I am, they moved and began their respective careers when I was little. I was eight the last time I saw either one of them. (And they were raised by their mother, so I only saw them on weekends.)

    Yeah, that whole paragraph was really weird. I’ve already told my friends all about this for some reason. Sometimes I feel awkward when I tell people my mom’s not in the picture anymore, you know? I’m actually the only person in my class who lives exclusively with their father.

    But I don’t want you to get the wrong idea, though. I hope I don’t sound all “woe is me”, because honestly, I’m not like that usually. Oh, and, by the way, I didn’t know you have a sister! Do you have any more siblings?

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Yeah, I have two sisters 🙂 They are both younger than me.

      I find it interesting that you’re the only person in your class who lives with exclusively your father. In Australia, it is quite common and nobody would be surprised.

      I think having 11 sisters would be suppperrr chaotic, I would hate it! Two is enough for me, we fight all the time 😂 I think I would have been very different if I spent my childhood (more or less) without siblings, I would probably be able to go more places by myself without feeling awkward because I’d be used to being by myself.

      I love Island Princess as well, but I think the singing is a bit annoying (At The Ball is my least favourite), so that’s why I haven’t gotten around to rewatching it recently. PCS is good too, and ofc, I like Fairytopia as well.


      1. In America, most kids who live exclusively with one parent live with their mother. That’s actually the case with several kids at my school (relative to how few kids there are, that is.)

        Even though I grew up without siblings for the majority of my childhood, I’m pretty shy. I usually don’t go to school events because I prefer to not be in with a bunch of people. My friend Hannah and I both detest the school lunchroom, because, although there’s only ever going to be about 45 people (7th-12th grades eat at the same time), it still gets pretty loud. Also, my school takes junior high (7th and 8th) and the entire high school on two separate camping trips, but I usually don’t go. I did go in 7th grade, but our tent got rained out! It was pretty bad, having to sleep in the school van (which is only used for field trips), but with only five girls we were able to make it work!

        Oh, one more thing. I know I tend to write rather long comments, and I’m sure it gets a little aggravating having to read them all. I try to keep them “short and to the point”, but it’s kind of difficult for me to do sometimes. I promise I’ll keep trying, and only say things which are relevant to your original post.


      2. Yeah, we had a similar situation at my school -when you’re a senior, you’re allowed to eat in a certain classroom, so there would be around 50+ people in a small classroom during lunch. It was super loud, but better than sitting outside in the rain, I guess.

        That school camp sounds awful! I can’t imagine having to sleep in a tent, I would stay home as well 😂 I never went to school events either, I would just refuse because they were so badly organised haha. I’m glad I don’t have to go to school anymore lol.


  2. I loved Barbie in the 12 Dancing Princesses too. But I don’t actually remember when I last wanted it… I do remember that I did enjoy it.
    Also, I never knew you have a sister! (I hope that doesn’t sound weird)

    Liked by 1 person

      1. Wow that sounds like soo much fun! I have one younger brother who absolutely LOVES Life In The Dreamhouse. He isn’t too keen on many movies, but he can watch all of the Life In The Dream House over and over again. We actually watched it today in Polish for our Polish lesson😁

        Liked by 1 person

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