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Barbie: Big City, Big Dreams (2021)
The Movie Doesn't Hold Up
I'm a fan of most of the films in the Barbie Dreamhouse Adventures world, even considering Barbie And Chelsea: The Lost Birthday to be underrated. However, this is one film in this world I would probably rewatch the least since I don't think it holds up. It's not that it's bad, but it sets up how the vastly overrated Barbie: It Takes Two would turn out. I'll admit that it has a strong start. Barbie Malibu Roberts goes to New York to learn more about music. Speaking of which, the songs here are pretty solid. It's not up to the standard of Barbie: Princess Adventure, but I like them enough. I think the movie kind of goes off a cliff when Barbie Brooklyn Roberts is introduced. Introducing a black main character into the cast is something I'm all for. However, I think the movie made her near flawless. She doesn't have much in the way of notable character flaws other than being a bit stubborn. The movie props her up as some kind of Messiah like figure who can do no wrong, which makes the attempt to give her flaws during the second half (where she thinks Malibu Barbie intentionally sabotaged her when that's not the case) fall flat. This in turn also makes Malibu Barbie appear far weaker than she is. Yeah, she's prone to making mistakes in her own series and other movies, and though not to the extent of her flanderized self in Barbie: It Takes Two, she seems too dependent on this girl to function. Rafa is still good as the supportive friend. Emmie is fine, though it's sad how the franchise basically treats her like an afterthought after this movie. I think this movie would've been better if it showed how both girls can help each other out, not having one be seen as better or worse than the other. It's fine, but I'm not in a hurry to watch it.
The Spotlight She Deserves
If you've been watching the world of Barbie Dreamhouse Adventures from the beginning, you'll see how Skipper has very pronounced character development. She starts out aloof and temperamental before turning into someone more mindful and responsible. This movie, the first project where she's the lead, shows how far she's come. Having it focus on her babysitting service is a pretty smart choice, as it allows her to show off how well she can adapt to any situation. She shows a great deal of leadership qualities, such as looking out for others and helping those that can't help themselves. Everything else about the movie works pretty well, such as how enjoyable the new characters are, Tammy gaining more depth, and the music being enjoyable. I definitely recommend checking this out.
Rise Up, Sing Out (2022)
Why Isn't This A Full Show?
The only complaint I have about Rise Up Sing Out is that it's too short. It's eight episodes long, and each episode is about two minutes long. It's begging to be made into a full series. At least what we do get is pretty outstanding. The episodes tackle some kind of mature issue, whether it's racism, embracing your cultural identity, or learning to appreciate your natural beauty and creativity. For a show that's meant to be for the preschool audience, I think the episodes get the job done. The characters are also fun even if you wish you can see more from them due to the condensed time limit. They all exude really fun energy that makes you want to hang out with them. The music is also top notch. I've never heard of The Roots before, but they definitely know how to make the soundtrack stand out. So yeah, I love this show. Disney, give this the full greenlight.
Animaniacs: International Mouse of Mystery/Aliens Resurrected/Joe/The Stickening/Slappy's Return/Everyday Safety: Giant Adirondack Chair (2023)
It's The Best Because It's Over
The Animaniacs revival has failed to live up to what makes the original 1993 Animaniacs so great. It focuses far too much on making jokes over making sure the characters are well rounded enough to deliver the jokes. It doesn't help that the material most characters are given is lackluster at best. As such, you might be wondering why I gave this episode a positive review. That's because everyone dies when a meteor strikes them. The comedy for everything is still subpar, but the ending makes it all worth it. That may seem harsh, but it works here. You never really feel for the characters. They're just vessels for the writers to get out their personal views without any form of nuance. As such, you're glad they're dead since it means the show can no longer spit on the legacy of what made the original show so great. Goodbye Animaniacs 2020. No one will miss you.
Barbie: It Takes Two: To Dye For (2022)
The Subplot Makes This Passable
We have an episode where the subplot is better than the main plot. I think there's a solid conflict there. Stacie is trying to do her science project, with Chelsea helping her out and Skipper moderating. A bit of an accident with soda causes a jacket that Skipper bought to he ruined. You can see both sides of the conflict here. Stacie went a bit too far, but it was an accident and she did try to make up for it. Skipper does get a bit too angry, but she worked hard and saved up a lot of money to get it. There's no real bad guy here. I like the conclusion where Skipper is able to see that her jacket still looks cool. It's really nice to see. The main plot is just there. We have girls with interchangeable personalities getting worked up over something that only happened because neither of them had common sense. It just goes through the motions and the ending is tacked on. The subplot is the only thing that makes this episode passable.
Craig Gerber Strikes Gold Again
Craig Gerber created wonderful shows in the form of Sofia The First and Elena Of Avalor. Firebuds is a show that's pretty different from both of them, yet also carries the same level of quality that those shows have. Everything about this show works. The characters are all well rounded. Bo is someone who's impulsive, yet always strives to do the right thing. Flash is someone who's impulsive and all about strength, yet has a huge heart and great sensitivity. Violet is someone who's well rounded because of how she's athletic yet also imaginative and sensitive. Axl is someone who can be quite mature yet also knows when to have fun and be a good friend. Jayden is someone who always wants to make inventions and do the right thing even if he can be stubborn. Piston is some who's law abiding yet also knows how to have fun. There's some really good Filipino representation and even some LGBTQ representation. The messages are simple, but the charm of the characters helps make everything work. I recommend it.
Amazing Animation Wasted On Garbage Show
So we have a Scooby Doo show for adults, but without Scooby Doo himself. That sounds a bit odd, but any idea can work depending on the execution. Unfortunately, the execution here is completely garbage. Let me get my one positive out of the way, and that's with the animation. It's bright, colorful, and is really fluid. Visually, this show looks amazing. Everything else is bad, and that's for one reasons. Almost all the characters are unlikable. The titular Velma is a cynical, spiteful, hypocritical jerk who thinks she's smarter than everyone else and expects her to bow to her. I wouldn't mind this so much if she were properly called out for this behavior, but every time she is, she either ignores it or is forced to become better because the plot demands her to. Daphne and Fred are also pretty horrible. Daphne can be spoiled and vain in other incarnations, but she's not supposed to be this uptight mean girl who treats people like dirt. Fred is a privileged, entitled man child who can't take care of himself and only remembers girls if they're hot. Any attempts to give them depth, like Daphne wanting to find her biological parents or Fred trying to be mature, are also pretty forced. Norville/Shaggy is the least bad out of all of them since he actually has a moral compass. However, he doesn't have much in the way of depth and it's obvious that the writers want to drug jokes with him. Everyone else in the supporting cast is either too unlikable or too one note to get a proper reaction out of me. Even if this show improves later on, it can't escape the tainted reputation of those early episodes. I'm glad Scooby Doo wasn't put in this series. At least he won't be subjected to the awful writing that everyone else is going through. I like some of the more divisive Scooby Doo shows like Be Cool Scooby Doo, but this is a show that's not worth your time.
Barbie: It Takes Two: Game On (2022)
We Get Not One, But Two Rehashes
Here's an episode that rips off not one, but two episodes of Barbie Dreamhouse Adventures. Said episodes are "Nobody's Cupcake" and "Family Fun And Games", and they're both much better than this one. In both episodes, Barbie had distinct motivations for taking part in the competitions. In the former episode, they play into her love of baking and doing this for her family when her sisters push her into this. The latter episode also has her sisters encourage her to take part in the competition, but at least they put a cash prize on the line, and it's all for the sake of fixing the family RV. Both episodes showed how she and her sisters clearly contrast with each other yet also know how to work together. What's her motivation here? She wants to earn cash money for the demo for Otto Phoenix. It's the same exact motivation as Brooklyn Barbie. I wouldn't mind this, but they act interchangeable and don't show off any unique motivations or actions. They're both equally skilled in athletics and don't do anything to distinguish themselves from each other. The ending is also contrived. Their prize was actually potatoes, and both their parents give them the remaining money because of how hardworking they are. Huh? They basically just lucked their way into this. They didn't earn it. Look at how "Family Fun And Games" ended. Sure, the fact that the RV brakes are faulty is a little too convenient, but at least they emphasize how well the girls work together and they at least take down someone who revels in tearing people apart. That's a well earned reward. Here, they get the money just because. Oh, and there's also a conflict about Brooklyn Barbie having to choose between acting class and a music career when Bertram Livsey offers her a chance to study under him, and she doesn't tell Malibu Barbie. It's too late to make stuff from Handler relevant, so this emotional moment falls flat. This episode is fun, but has no real substance.
Barbie: Dreamhouse Adventures Did It Better
So we have a mystery episode. That sounds like it be pretty fun. This episode is fun, but it's greatly lacking in substance. Let's start with what I like. Well, Barbie's sisters are all in top form. The new schtick with Chelsea trying to be like Sally Snoops is pretty fun and shows how intuitive and imaginative she can be. It's fun to see her basically lead the case. The one shot characters are fun, particularly Vanessa. The ending with Gato the dog is pretty sweet. The message on bit jumping to conclusions is fine. What makes this episode flawed? Well, it's the Barbies themselves. They act interchangeable and you don't really get a good grasp of their characters. It's just one of them says something weird and the other says something weird, and doesn't play into their individual character strengths. There could've been something great if the episode just did the whole "good cop tough cop" routine for the whole episode and not just one scene that's played for a joke. Also, again with the Otto Phoenix stuff? Actually make us care about impressing him and don't just use him as a bland plot device. Look at "Barbie, Brownies, And Bears Oh My" from Barbie Dreamhouse Adventures. Barbie was actually smart and took the time to question her family on who ate the brownies, unlike here, where she jumps to conclusions over everything. Brooklyn Barbie is just there, no wit or real intuition. This is wasted potential.
This Is Boring
So you'd think an episode with the word "magic" in the title would at least be entertaining to watch. Well, it's half and half. There's some stuff I like. The relationship between Rafa and Izzy is pretty sweet. He has that determination to help his friends out and be seen as a reliable. She's rather confident and sassy, yet also clearly wants to help him. I find the character of Magnifico to be enjoyable because of how much he cares for his pigeon friend. These are some highlights of the episode. What do I not like? Well, it's the Barbies themselves. They feel indistinguishable from each other. You could swap their dialogue and methods of getting the pigeon back, and nothing would change. The mark of a good duo is to highlight similarities and differences. Here, they're basically one person split into two, and they act exactly the same. I wouldn't have a problem with this, but you don't really feel for the characters. It's just "Oh okay. We have more Otto Phoenix nonsense.". This episode is background noise and nothing else.
Barbie: Dreamhouse Adventures Did This Plot Better
Dream episodes can he pretty fun, creative, and emotional depending on the experience. There's a fun element here, but the substance is rather lacking. I think it's because there's a lot more focus on the characters failing and less focus on their emotional journeys. You feel bad for Malibu Barbie to some extent because of how she's had a whole series of adventures prior to this with her friends and family. However, I wish the impact was stronger since the moments where she feels bad are few and far in-between, and are ratter barren. I'd say I feel bad for Brooklyn Barbie, but more because the plot demands it. Her conflict over missing her family falls a bit short when we haven't really gotten a good grasp of her family dynamics. The emotional moments feel barren. There's too much focus on them failing and feeling down on themselves and not as much time devoted to trying to solve their problem. I'd probably forgive this if they solved the problem together in the dream, but they wake up before they manage to do anything. When you look at "Life Can Be A Dream", the episode put a good deal of focus on the conflict Barbie has on what she wants to be when grows up, and puts more emphasis on her trying to find a solution even if she knew she was in a dream. That's aspirational. This is not.
It Could Be Better
So we have the first episode of Barbie: It Takes Two, and it's.... not good. There's some nice humor (although the fantasies are a bit too much) and the music is decent. The supporting cast is pretty solid. Where the episode really falls flat is with both of the Barbies. Starting with Malibu Barbie, this is not the same Barbie from Barbie: Dreamhouse Adventures. This feels like some weird, alternate universe take on the character. I understand she can be a bit impulsive and not think straight in that series, but you'd think she'd have better judgement and consult her family on a big life changing decision before going through with it. It feels unnaturally selfish of her to just do this on a whim. As for Brooklyn Barbie, I'm not exactly liking how she basically enables Malibu Barbie to attend school with her and start a music career. If she's supposed to be the smarter one, shouldn't she try to make her think more clearly about a big life changing decision? I might've let this slide if everything was given time to breathe, but that's not the case. It just moves from plot point to plot point without letting the emotion sink in. As is, this is not a good start to the series.
It's Not Bad, But It Could Be Better
So we have the final episode of Barbie: It Takes Two, and it's.... fine. The song is amazing. It's probably one of the best things to come out of the Barbie Dreamhouse Adventures world. As for the episode itself, it's just fine. There's some nice gags in everyone trying to stop Otto Phoenix from leaving, and some of the teamwork is nice. However, it's really hard to buy into the conflict. There's no character growth nor is there any meaningful character insight. It's just moving from one set piece to the next, and it's all done out of obligation. This isn't a story driven by the characters. It's the characters being forced to follow a bare bones story and nothing else. Barbie Epic Road Trip also makes this meaningless since everything involving Otto Phoenix or Brooklyn hiding the fact she got accepted into acting school from Malibu is not mentioned at all. It makes for okay entertainment, but it doesn't have much in the way of substance.
Little Ellen (2021)
Good Show If You Don't Think About Who It's Based On
Little Ellen is a show that seems to have quite a bit of baggage to it. That's mainly due to how controversial the real life Ellen DeGeneres is. It kind of stinks that her real life legacy is causing people to blindly hate the show since, on its own, it's not that bad. It's not great, but there's a certain charm and wit to it that makes it pretty entertaining. The characters are all fun to watch, and you can tell that the writers and animators and so forth genuinely wanted to make a good show. The show probably would've gotten better reception if it came out a few years earlier or focused on someone else. As it stands, you have a good show that's unfairly hated on. I mean, if you don't like it, that's fine, but have solid reasons for not liking it.
Barbie: Mermaid Power (2022)
My Favorite Barbie Movie
What is there to say about this movie? It's amazing. It gets intense, yet stays inspirational. It has well rounded characters, whether protagonist or antagonist, and you find all of them fun to watch. The conflicts for the Barbies and characters like Marlo, Talleigha, and Aquaryah are all well done. It looks amazing, what with all the bright colors and well defined designs. The songs are really catchy. It also has strong messages about support and finding your inner power. This can be attributed to combining the best aspects of what makes modern Barbie projects work, whether there's a sense of stakes and the desire to do the right thing no matter what. I call this one a winner.
New Medium, Same Heart
I've never read the book that the special is based on. Even still, this was a pretty fun ride. The animation is colorful and expressive, allowing for a different kind of humor that works well. The characters are in top form, especially Grover. There's a nice message on facing fears. It's simple, but it works.
Cleopatra in Space (2019)
Fun And Exciting
It's a shame that this show lasted only 26 episodes. There's plenty to like. The humor is on point. The action is exciting. The characters are all fun to watch in their own ways. There's a nice mix between comedy, story, and sci fi action. If nothing else, at least give a movie to wrap up the series. It deserves more.
Barbie: Dolphin Magic (2017)
Fun And Charming
This is a movie that is pretty engaging to watch. The obvious part is the bond that Barbie and Isla have. We have Barbie being smart and compassionate, doing what she can to help Isla while also respecting the law. We have Isla who is initially distrustful of humans, but she also shows great compassion towards sea life and has some quirky moments that make you love her. There's some really fun character moments, whether it's from Barbie's sisters and Ken, or Marlo having quite the "I don't care attitude". The message on trust is simple, but we'll integrated. It's also a good indicator for the quality of Barbie Dreamhouse Adventures despite this movie being quite different from it. I recommend it. I can't wait for the sequel Barbie: Mermaid Power.
It's The Flintstones Meets Doc McStuffins, And That's Why It's Good
Eureka is a show that can best be described as The Flintstones Meets Doc McStuffins, and it's really good. It's like mixing a lighthearted version of the original Flintstones (a stone age sitcom) with the educational aspects of Doc McStuffins (which isn't surprising since both shows have some of the same people). You find all the characters really fun to watch, and there's a sense of freedom with the stone age setting. The humor is sharp and the songs are a banger. We get overarching messages about critical thinking and making the world a better place to compliment the smaller, but still well written messages. I recommend this one.
Alice's Wonderland Bakery (2022)
Fun, Colorful, And Creative
I'm someone who likes eating and baking, so I'm a bit biased in favor of this show. Regardless, this is a show that I find to be pretty good. It's bright and colorful with all sorts of gorgeous scenery. The songs are pretty spot on, as is the humor. You find all the characters pretty fun to watch. There's some solid messages about creativity and thinking outside the box. I call this a win.
Barbie: A Perfect Christmas (2011)
It's Not The Best, But There's Real Effort Here
This movie isn't a masterpiece by any means. The animation is a bit odd and the humor doesn't always work. However, at least it has a good message done well and characters you can actually root for. Barbie is motivated to give her sisters a good Christmas. It's simple, but it works. There's a cheesiness to the tone, but everything is so earnest and sincere that you don't mind it. I call this solid.
Barbie: A Fairy Secret (2011)
Shopping And Romance Are The Only Important Things In Life Apparently
This is a movie that seems to want to push simple messages, one about not letting grudges get the better of you and another about the importance of friendship. Instead, we just get a 75 minute ad. These positive messages get overshadowed by a near constant presence of fashion and shopping that doesn't contribute much positively. A lot of the characters are either one dimensional or just plot devices, with any attempts at depth being poorly written. Every character basically has romance or shopping on their mind with no room for anything else. Everything else from the animation to the music to the humor is mediocre at best, but the characters really drag it down. I don't recommend it.
Not The Most Original Thing, But There's Heart
It's easy to dismiss My Friends Tigger And Pooh because of how different it is compared to other Pooh projects. Even with that, there's always a warmth and sincerity that helps draw you in. This is no exception. Sure, it's not the most original thing, but there's still charming characters and good emotion. There's nothing else, but it gets the job done.
Barbie Princess Adventure (2020)
A Few Issues Don't Take Away From How Great This Is
This movie that definitely has a lot going for it. To end this on a positive note, let me get my issues out of the way. Some of the stuff involving Ken and Trey could've been done better. It seems like they were going somewhere in them having some kind of oddball dynamic, and Trey learning to be more humble, but it doesn't go anywhere. Ken trying to get closer to Barbie doesn't really go anywhere, but at least he helps out with the climax. Some of the humor could also be better written. As for everything else, it's top marks. All the songs are really fun to listen to. They're all fun and/or inspirational in some way. The characters definitely help make this work. We have Barbie trying to become a more famous Vlogger, but for the selfless reason of wanting to leave an impact on the lives of other people. She's shown to be pretty sweet, smart, and humble, and knows when to rely on her friends. In fact, she even rejects Rose Ross's offer to put her vlog on her show when her manipulated video makes it seem like she's shallow. Amelia is definitely a well written character. Her wanting to be a normal girl and escape royal life may seem unreasonable, but they make her likable. She appreciates how Alfonso cares for her, but she feels like she can't make her own choices due to how everything is planned out. Similar to Barbie, she's sweet and humble, but unlike her doesn't seem aware of what the outside world is like. She definitely proves herself in the climax. The message of the movie is pretty spot on, in how you shouldn't have to conform to what other people expect of you. That is definitely universal. While some things in the narrative could be fixed, this is something I can definitely watch over and over again.
Barbie and the Secret Door (2014)
A Second Draft Was Needed To Avoid Unfortunate Implications
There's quite a few things wrong with this movie, boiling down to story (things that are either unexplained, go on for too long, or are resolved too quickly), characters, music, entertainment, and animation. If it was just that, I'd give this a 5/10 since there would be nothing technically wrong. It would just be unengaging. However, there's a big red flag when it comes to unfortunate implications, and it all comes down to the antagonist. She's a disabled child trying to commit an equivalent of genocide. Let me explain that a little better. Princess Malucia (the "antagonist") Is a child in a fantasy world. According to other characters in the movie, Malucia is the only princess to ever be born without magic in this world; everyone else, including the civilians, has magic. Therefore, by the logic of the movie, she is a disabled child. This doesn't make her taking everyone's magic away to keep for herself okay in any way, but we have to remember that she's like 8 and spoiled so badly that she doesn't understand why her actions are wrong. During her song, Malucia spouts some lyrics that I find very disturbing for a child to say such as "But you'll still get around 'cause you can crawl" and "It might just leave you curled up in a ball". One can only conclude this is the influence of her awful parents who, in my opinion, are the real villains in this story. However none of this compares to the awful conclusion our protagonist comes to when trying to give everyone their magic back. Instead of handling things like an adult (well, she's 17, but you get the idea) Princess Alexa decides to deceive Malucia by giving her all of her magic as well, shattering the wand containing all of the magic and sending the child flying backwards where she hits her head on a chair and is hit in the face by a very large cake. When this is over, Alexa shows no concern for the literal disabled child she just injured and even remarks much later "I wonder what happened to Malucia." Because she cared so little about the consequences of her actions, she didn't even check to see if Malucia was okay. It is later implied that Malucia has done this multiple times. I don't have anything else to say. This is just bad.