Cast: Anjelica Houston, Kelly Sheridan, Cree Summer
Extras: Art Gallery, Dress-Up Game, Documentary, Trailer, DVD-ROM
At first glance, ’Barbie as Rapunzel’ might appear as just another quick come-on designed to motivate little girls to plead, beg, and even shed a shrewd tear in convincing Mom and Dad to buy this most certainly vacuous disc disguised as entertainment. Truth be told, there is actual entertainment value to be found here irrespective of the keep-case cover that makes this 2002 direct-to-video production look like nothing more substantial than one of those Toys-R-Us giveaway DVD-ROMs.
Clearly aimed at its target audience of young waifs in ponytails, this digitally animated feature re-tells the classic story of Rapunzel, that girl with the most radiant and lengthy locks. Though imprisoned in a tower by the jealous witch, Gothel, Barbie/Rapunzel stumbles upon a magic paintbrush that allows her the ability to literally paint an escape from her shackled life of servitude and ultimately find truth, happiness, and even love in the arms of the highly eligible Prince Stefan. Though the production is very ’pink’ in nature, it shows a reasonable amount of restraint in not becoming a mere commercial for all things Barbie (yet, in regards to the new Barbie/Rapunzel toys, it’s debatable which came first, the disc or the dolls). The animation, certainly not in contention with the likes of ’Shrek’ nor ’A Bug’s Life,’ is well executed nonetheless and worth a look by those who’ve long since eclipsed their eighth birthday. While it’s definitely not a feature that male siblings are likely to seek out, the content is well suited for a Mom-and-Daughter movie night and features a scripted fashion show, a musical number, and the requisite fairytale wedding.
The anamorphic transfer presented here is quite clean, obviously boosted by its digital source material. Though the renderings themselves aren’t state-of-the-art, the image is very clean and incredibly vibrant (you’ll be seeing pink for hours afterward) with good detail without too much evidence of edge enhancement. The audio comes in two versions, the better being the 5.1 Dolby Digital mix. Most activity is centered in the front channels though there is noticeable ambience eking out of the rear channels with frequent effects popping up from around the viewing area. The low end isn’t taxed much but manages to utter forth a rumble or two on occasion. Considering the disc’s audience is not likely to be too technically discerning, this presentation performs quite admirably.
Extra features begin with an animated menu accompanied with a voice-over that instructs young viewers in navigating the content. ’The Artist in Me’ is a decent documentary that encourages and inspires its audience to explore their inner creativity, much in alignment with a central theme of the feature presentation. The set-top ’Dress-Up’ and ’Art Gallery’ games follow in providing youngsters more opportunity to be creative. Finally, there are trailers for ’Barbie in the Nutcracker’ and the upcoming ’Ice Age.’
In all, it’s a disc that offers much more than one might expect. It’s content never seems to become overly commercial nor pandering to young girls and, while it does maintain it’s youthful female sensibilities, it’s likely one that your little girl will view many times over. In that regard, this disc is duly recommended.