It’s not much of a stretch to picture Barbie as a ballet dancer, which is probably why 4 out of 24 animated Barbie movies have featured ballet dancing, along with countless dolls. The newest movie is Barbie in The Pink Shoes, which mixes a pair of famous ballets with a lighthearted story and a simple, but effective message.
In The Pink Shoes, Barbie’s stars as Kristyn Farrday, an aspiring ballet dancer who struggles to stick to the proper choreography when the music inspires her to dance what’s in her heart. Initially, that puts her behind Tara, a superior technical dancer and sort-of rival, and Tara’s pushy father hopes to push Kristyn completely out of the picture.
When Kristyn’s regular ballet shoes rip, the costume mistress gives her a special pair of pink shoes. Putting them on, Kristyn and her best friend Hailey are magically transported to a fantasy land mixing elements of the ballets Swan Lake, Giselle, and possibly a little bit of The Snow Queen thrown in. Characters in the real world all have counterparts in the fantasy realm, and for the most part they share similar characteristics, which will help young viewers make the connections.
At 75 minutes, The Pink Shoes moves at a brisk pace, with Kristyn simultaneously playing both lead roles, alternating between dance sequences and hijinks, as her dancing skills and passion for dance are put to the test. That pacing doesn’t leave a lot of room to develop characters beyond the most superficial traits, but with basic character types (the best friend, the rival love interests, the evil wizard, etc.) the story is easy enough for children to follow, even if they’ve never heard of Giselle or Swan Lake.
Unfortunately, our family’s broken PlayStation 3 meant we couldn’t enjoy the movie in HD, but the DVD version doesn’t lack for colour. The quality of the animation is par for the course for a non-theatrical release, looking somewhat simple and plasticky, which I guess in this context is kind of appropriate.
The highlight of the movie is the dance performances, which have been motion captured and animated based on the movements of real ballet dancers. That’s key, because it looks and feels like real dancers performing real choreography, and not like computer generated forms.
Parents who might object to a Barbie story focused on fashion and the superficial should be pleasantly surprised to find a story that casts most of that aside, instead focusing on a simple message about realizing your potential and following your heart. It’s nice and easy to understand, and combined with the exposure to classical music and famous ballet performances, offers more than just simple entertainment. It’s not a heavyweight story, or anything approaching the level of sophistication of a Pixar movie, but it is, in a word “nice”. And nice isn’t a bad thing.
Barbie in The Pink Shoes is available in several formats, including an all-in-one combo pack, DVD-only and digital download. While it is the most expensive at around $27 US, the combo pack still represents a good value, as it includes the Blu-ray and DVD copies, a digital download, and an Ultraviolet copy for streaming, meaning that wherever you are, young children can enjoy the movie. There are also a few extras on the disk, including music videos and outtakes, but the long-term value is really going to be all about how many times your children are going to watch the movie. If they are typical girls who love to dance (like my daughter), I’d expect plenty of repeat viewings.
This movie is also the launchpad for a series of dolls, so parents should be mindful that the next step might be wanting to pick up a new ballerina doll or two. There’s also the possibility that your child might be so inspired by Kristyn’s story that they will want to take up dance lessons, which can be wonderful, but also quite expensive. That shouldn’t be a reason to keep your children away from this movie, but these are the kinds of things we parents have to think about, just in case!
The GamerPops Recommendation
Barbie in The Pink Shoes is sure to please young dancers and fans of Barbie alike, with plenty of ballet and a simple, positive message. It’s an entertaining tale that introduces children to classic performances and musical compositions, and it manages to avoid the more superficial and materialistic elements that Barbie is known for.
A review copy was provided to GamerPops.
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