The animated Barbie films have been a staple for kids since the original released straight to video in 2001. With roughly 40 movies in the franchise at this point, it can be daunting trying to figure out which ones you and your family may like.
This goes doubly so if you're trying to prepare for the quite intriguing live-action rendition of Barbie, played by Margot Robbie, in the upcoming 2023 feature film. So to prepare for that movie, here are the top 20 best Barbie animated movies you need to see.
1. Barbie as The Princess and The Pauper (2004)
Many Barbie animated movies follow the premise of retelling a classic novel or fairytale with an intriguing Malibu Barbie twist. The Princess and the Pauper is the most outstanding example of this and the best movie in the franchise.
Full of emotional songs, animation that holds up decently well years later, and telling a fantastic storyline with two of the best Barbie characters, this is one of the rare examples on this list of a movie that even non-Barbie fans can enjoy. It is easily the best movie in the franchise by a long shot.
2. 12 Dancing Princesses (2006)
When it comes to the most glamorous and wild movie in the series, 12 Dancing Princesses wins. This second-best film in the Hasbro franchise doesn't focus solely on Barbie herself but her 11 sisters at the same time.
In the process, it becomes a wide movie exploring many characters, plots, and relationships and somehow balancing them well in its 83-minute runtime.
3. Diamond Castle (2008)
Barbie and the Diamond Castle is the epitome of a classic Barbie storyline. The movie has a tighter focus, zooming in on the friendship of two girls. No ridiculous fairytales or recreations here; it is all about the magic of friendship and the power of music. With some of the best songs in the series, this is the purest example of a Barbie movie.
4. Barbie Fairytopia: Mermaidia (2006)
While you certainly need to watch the original Fairytopia to understand this sequel, Mermaidia expands upon everything introduced in the first movie. In addition, keeping the same lead character (Elina) means that viewers get to see character development that few other animated Barbie movies offer.
In addition, the wondrous underwater mermaid setting is one of the best in the series with its colorful locales, and the storyline feels more engaging than the 2005 version. This is the prime example of how to make a Barbie animated movie sequel.
5. Magic of Pegasus 3D (2005)
If you can ignore the weird 3D tie-ins that were all the rage at this time, Magic of Pegasus is one of the most fun and exhilarating movies in the series. Its action is top-notch, while the story of Barbie as Annika gives a wild ride as she fights alongside her Pegasus friend to take down an evil wizard and save the day.
6. Island Princess (2007)
Island Princess feels like what happens when the writers sit down and take their time with a well-thought-out story. As a result, there is an element of mystery to this adventure about a stranded girl on an island finding out about the magical destiny that awaits her as a potentially missing princess.
This intriguing premise flips the script on the usual Barbie style, offering some twists and turns that redefine the typical princess storyline.
7. Princess Charm School (2011)
Whereas most of the movies in the series focus on Barbie becoming some princess girl and learning about her powers, this entry has her taking a step back and helping other princesses grow. In turn, this creates one of the better casts of the series, with Barbie's relationship with the others being a welcome focal point.
8. Rapunzel (2002)
Only the second movie to come out, and its animation is, admittedly, relatively sub-par these days. But if you can get past that, you'll find the best iteration of the classic character Rapunzel outside of a Disney animated movie.
It has a twist on the usual Rapunzel formula, showing a strong and resilient girl who doesn't rely on needing a prince to save the day. Instead, she is the hero of this classic Barbie story.
9. Nutcracker (2001)
The first ever Barbie movie set the stage for each one to come after it. Adapting the storybook tale into animated form is arguably the best version of the Nutcracker you'll ever find.
It introduces Barbie as Clara, one of the stronger characters, as she journeys to locate the Sugarplum Princess. If you can get past the oldest animation in the franchise, you'll find that the franchise started on the right foot.
10. Barbie of Swan Lake (2003)
The earliest Barbie movies are classics for a reason, and the tale of Barbie of Swan Lake is no different. The wonderful fairytale is brought to life in possibly the strongest feature film version.
The setting is one of the most magical, with all of the cutesy creatures, while the music is some of the finest in the franchise, using the brilliant works of Tchaikovsky.
11. Barbie and The Three Musketeers (2008)
This usually bland storyline about the Three Musketeers is filled with some nice twists featuring Barbie wishing to become one of them. In addition, it adds conflict and some of the better fights in the series as one movie that can appeal to a wide range of animated film fans.
12. Barbie in a Christmas Carol (2008)
The first Barbie holiday feature film in the series is arguably one of the best. A Christmas Carol takes the beloved storyline and gives it the excellent Malibu Barbie treatment. Barbie plays Eden in this movie, a renowned singer who forces everyone to work on Christmas, resulting in three spirits visiting her to teach her the true meaning of the holidays.
It might play close to the original story's progression, but this is also one of the series's most mature and emotional movies.
13. Barbie Fairytopia (2005)
Most of the movies in this series are one-offs, telling an intriguing story and setting Malibu Barbie in the role of a particular character. However, Fairytopia is the rare example of a movie that spun off its own mini-series.
While it isn't quite as enjoyable as its sequel, this 2005 film sets the stage by introducing Elina, one of the best characters that Barbie has ever roleplayed. Her journey to earn her wings and defeat the villainous Laverna is predictable, but it remains a solid watch.
14. Barbie Fairytopia: Magic of The Rainbow (2007)
The third in the Fairytopia sub-series might be the weakest of the three, but it still stands tall as one of the better Barbie movies. Magic of the Rainbow features a massive tonal shift as Elina now visits the School of Fairies in a more student-focused adventure.
The only thing that holds this one slightly back is its recycling of Laverna as a villain for the third time and some somewhat predictable turn of events.
15. Mariposa and Her Butterfly Fairy Friends (2008)
Yes, once again, fairies are back in this franchise. This time, it easily features the best fairy design for Barbie and her gorgeous outfit and wings as Mariposa. Outside of that and the generally good animation, this is a fairly standard plot that you've mostly seen before if you watched the above movies.
16. The Pearl Princess (2014)
As the most recent movie on this list, The Pearl Princess impresses with animation far and above some of the best in the franchise. In addition, it mashes together fan-favorite Barbie tropes like a princess getting ready to meet her princess and mermaids for a solid movie worth watching once or twice.
17. Mermaid Tale (2010)
For better or worse, there is an absolute obsession with Barbie and being a mermaid. These usually result in some of the better movies, and Mermaid Tale is no different. It feels like an inverted version of The Little Mermaid, offering decent sweeping ocean environments.
18. Mermaid Tale 2 (2011)
The sequel to the last entry falls ever so short, bringing back the popular mermaid Merliah. It continues its nice blend of mermaids and sports, being one of the few athletic-themed Barbie movies. Its storyline has much lower stakes this time, so it doesn't quite reach the highs of the original.
19. The Princess & The Popstar (2012)
Hasbro tried to recapture the love and adoration of the best movie in the series, but with a modern twist. The Princess & the Popstar features two girls from very different environments trading places with one another.
This time, though, one of them is a renowned pop star. So while you might be able to see every twist and story beat leagues ahead of time, you'd be hard-pressed to find a Barbie movie with a better soundtrack than this one.
20. A Fairy Secret (2011)
Finally, this is a movie where Barbie plays herself. In this movie, Ken and other classic doll characters appear in a storyline involving an obsessed princess who steals Ken away for her own. In the process, Barbie has to gather her friends to save her one true love.
A Fairy Secret is a bold movie that takes the expected premises of other films and surprises as the princess is the villain here, and Barbie is her usual self. Not all of the risky moves pay off, but if you want a movie that feels quite different from everything else, this is the one to watch.
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This article was produced and syndicated by Wealth of Geeks.
Jake has covered the entertainment industry for nearly two decades, specializing in video games, TV, and film. He studied Electronic Media and Broadcasting at Northern Kentucky University before freelancing for several publications. He leverages this experience at Wealth of Geeks to help manage the site cover all things geek-related. Jake's work has been syndicated across the Associated Press wire at outlets such as PBS, MSN, and more.