I bought this the day it came out, and watched it with some of my younger little friends, ages 5-8. If I went by them, it'd be a 'Fish-A-Licious' 5 stars. However, I don't completely agree.
The storyline is a bit of a twist on the same old Kingdom-owning-craze that Barbie movies have become infamous for. This time, evil in the form of Eris, the good queen's sister, reigns. Eris stole the throne from Calissa, and it's the good guys (er, girls) trying to restore peace and happiness. Merliah Summers is ex-Queen Calissa's daughter, and a champion surfer. When she 'comes of age' and discovers she's part mermaid, she dives into the sea to try and find the mother she's never known, help Calissa, and hopefully get back her 'normal' self.
This one is decidedly more modern, the conversations are a little more mature, and yet some parts are even more juvenile. There is talk of Merliah's dad, who died in an accident, and Calissa's pregnacy and the oddity of mermaids marrying humans. None of it is overt or uncomfortable, but it's little changes like this that help balance out the more childish elements. Merliah acts like a brat, smarting off to her grandfather, being rude to Zuma and her friends, and talking a little too much about herself. However, in the the end, it turns out she's acting like this because she feels like a misfit and a freak. Her mother proceeds to tell her, "You're unique. These differences don't make you bad, but special in your own way." The animation isn't nearly as high quality as the others, but as far as I've seen, there haven't been any huge flaws. The underwater motions were well animated, and the surfing scenes were excellent. The music is modern and really fun. There are tons of cute mer-oriented words and catch phrases thrown in, such as "Bloomingtail's" "Seaphora" as well as songs like "Swimmin' on Sunshine." My biggest problem was the phsycic Destinies, whose faces go blank, eyes facant, and bodies glowing when they forsee the future. That, and the gleeful exclamtion of, "You're Merliah's Spirit Guide!" from Hadley left a bitter taste in my mouth, thinking, "How am I gonna explain to these little girls that dabbling in spirit-fortune telling and phsycadelic glowing mermaids are wrong????"
Don't get me wrong, I enjoyed this movie. It was lots of fun, sweet, and bright colors. Cute, but not great. Enjoyable, but not one of the ones I'd watch over and over again. I would say "Barbie's Worst!" but that's a little too drastic. It's not too mature for girls to swallow, and yet it's got a little more 'salt' thrown in for older viewers. I wish, though, that Barbie would return to the more classic princess style of movies. The Three Musketeers was great, with a good storyline and plain, girl-power wholesome fun, where all the girls shone-not just Barbie. The upcoming movie, Barbie in a Fashion Fairytale, looks to be utterly ridiculous. Barbie looks awful, and the plot seems bland. "Will Barbie and her dog Sequin find their inner Sparkle?!?" Whoopee. Tell me this isn't the direction Barbie's moving in! Go back to classical music and princesses if that's what it takes, Barbie!