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Western Animation / Barbie in the Nutcracker

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"If you are kind, clever and brave, anything is possible."

Based on The Nutcracker, this Direct to Video film stars Barbie as Clara. After being shrunk by the evil Mouse King, Clara joins forces with a living nutcracker and journeys to the magical land of Parthenia. Together, they search for the Sugarplum Princess, the only being powerful enough to break the Mouse King's spells and end his tyrannical reign.

This was the first in what would later become a series of Barbie movies: a series which now spans 20 years. The first successor was Barbie as Rapunzel, released a year later in 2002.

This movie contains examples of:

  • Actionized Adaptation: The movie expands the Mouse King's battles to extend across the entire runtime, including a chase sequence involving a stone golem and an action-packed climax.
  • Adaptation Name Change:
    • Clara's brother, Fritz, became Tommy.
    • The Sugarplum Fairy from the ballet became the Sugarplum Princess here.
  • Adaptational Nice Guy: Clara's brother breaks the Nutcracker here, like he does in the ballet, but in the ballet, he's often shown as doing so purposefully out of jealousy (though this isn't universal, and it was an accident in the original story). Here, it's just the result of two siblings fighting over a toy, and the Nutcracker getting broken is an honest accident.
  • An Aesop: "Believe in yourself" and "If you are kind, clever and brave, anything is possible." Unlike in later Barbie movies, neither Aesop appears at the very end of the credits.
  • And You Were There: Barbie appears in the story as Clara and the Sugarplum Princess, while her sister, Kelly, plays a candy girl and a fairy, Ken plays the Nutcracker/Prince Eric, and Ken's brother Tommy plays Clara's brother, Tommy and a candy boy.
  • Anguished Declaration of Love: Prince Eric tells Clara he loves her as she fades away back to her world.
  • Ascended Extra:
    • The Mouse King has one scene in the ballet, in which he fights the Nutcracker, is defeated, and dies. Here, he's the Big Bad, and antagonizes the heroes throughout. This is ironically closer to his role in the original The Nutcracker and the Mouse King, where he was a recurring villain, so it might count as an example of Truer to the Text.
    • Clara, to a lesser extent. In the ballet, she doesn't do much once the Nutcracker is introduced, especially in the second act. Here, she's a proactive heroine.
  • Bad Boss: The Mouse King turns so many of his subordinates into statues that the castle lawn is completely covered in them.
  • Book Ends: At the beginning of the Framing Device, Kelly is having trouble keeping up with Barbie's dancing. In the end as they try the same dance again, Kelly does the dance perfectly.
    • The story proper begins and ends with a zoomed-in shot of a snow globe in Clara's parlor.
    • In a literal example of this trope, the Mouse King turns two of his mooks into bookends as punishment for failing to find the Nutcracker.
  • Big Damn Kiss: Between Clara and Prince Eric after they dance together in the ending. Especially notable since later entries in the franchise would mostly stick with No Hugging, No Kissing.
  • Chekhov's Gun: Clara's locket, which was supposed to return her home and restore her to her normal size after she found the Sugarplum Princess. After falling for the Nutcracker/Prince Eric and learning that she is the Sugarplum Princess, Clara decides she'd rather stay in Partheina with him. However, the Mouse King steals the locket and uses it to send her home anyway.
    • Marzipan runs away with her sleigh after being attacked by the Mouse King's soldiers. After the snow fairies freeze the surface of the ocean, Marzipan reappears and takes the Nutcracker's group across.
  • Chekhov's Skill: Near the beginning of the movie, one of the Nutcracker's arms detaches at the elbow after a fall. He easily reattaches it and reassures Clara that it's a common occurrence. Later, he makes use of this ability to save his old friend Captain Candy from falling to his death.
    • The snow fairies and their ice powers are introduced early on, then seemingly left behind as Clara and Nutcracker venture into a region with a summertime climate. However, when their boat is destroyed, the snow fairies return and freeze the ocean's surface, allowing the party to cross on foot. Later still, they conjure a snowball which the peppermint girl uses to give the shrunken Mouse King his just desserts.
  • Composite Character: The Sugarplum Fairy is a separate entity in the ballet, but here, she and Clara are one and the same.
  • Cool Aunt: Aunt Drosselmeyer, who frequently dotes on Clara and fascinates her with fantastical stories of her adventures. She also apparently knows about Parthenia, and pauses knowingly when she introduces Eric as "the son of a dear friend".
  • Dance of Romance: Clara and the Nutcracker do this twice at the end. The first time is after she's revealed to be the Sugarplum Princess, and the second is when they meet again in the real world.
  • Dance Party Ending: Everyone in the castle celebrates with a dance party after the Mouse King's defeat, then Clara and Eric dance together on Christmas Day at the very end.
  • Early-Installment Weirdness: This is one of the few Barbie movies not to feature any animal sidekicks (one could make an argument for Marzipan, but she only appears twice and doesn't speak). It is also one of the very few movies where most of the main characters are male.
  • Empathy Doll Shot: Clara finds a doll in the ruins of the Gingerbread Village. Luckily, though, the owner is just fine — and Clara manages to return the doll to her.
  • Evil Chancellor: The Mouse King was this before usurping the throne.
  • Evil Is Hammy: The Mouse King, voiced by Tim Curry.
  • Fantasy Keepsake: After Clara is sent back home at the end of the film, she encounters this trope twice; first when her Aunt Drosselmeyer introduces her to "the son of a dear friend" who happens to be the spitting image of Prince Eric, the Nutcracker's human form, and then again when he gives her a locket identical to the one used to send her back, heavily implying that he's actually Prince Eric himself.
  • Foreshadowing: Clara's true identity as the Sugarplum Princess is hinted at from the beginning of the film. The locket intended to send her home was originally hanging from the neck of an ornament depicting Clara's appearance after her identity is revealed. Snow melts and plants grow in her footprints. She's briefly stranded on the island where the princess is said to live; and she repeatedly exhibits the three traits—kindness, cleverness, and bravery—that are specifically associated with the Sugarplum Princess. Prince Eric even lampshades the final point after the Mouse King's defeat.
    • The Nutcracker's true identity— Prince Eric—is revealed much earlier in the film (unsurprising, given that many viewers would already know the plot of the original ballet), but there's plenty of buildup for that, too. When Clara first sees him, her aunt tells her that he has "the heart of a prince." Later, he refers to the mice as traitors, and later still, he relates the legend of the Sugarplum Princess, which is only known by members of the royal family.
  • Framing Device: Barbie tells the story to Kelly, who feels too nervous to dance in a ballet.
  • Gender Flip: Uncle Drosselmeyer is an aunt here.
  • Gorgeous Garment Generation: When Clara is revealed to be the Sugarplum Princess at the end, her nightgown magically turns into a sparkly pink and white dress with a tiara and Regal Ringlets.
  • Gratuitous Princess: The Sugar Plum Fairy of the original ballet is renamed to the Sugarplum Princess. Ironically, the Sugarplum Princess of the movie is a mythical figure who has the power to defeat the Mouse King rather than an interim ruler who looked after the kingdom in the Prince's absence, as she was in the ballet.
  • Hoist by His Own Petard: The Nutcracker/Eric reflects the Mouse King's own shrinking ray back at him in the climax, reducing him to the size of an ordinary mouse that's too small to do anything but run away.
  • Honorary Princess: Clara turns out to be the Sugarplum Princess, the savior of the candy kingdom. This is specific to the Barbie version as it was the Sugarplum Fairy in the original ballet, and it was a character distinct from Clara.
  • I Choose to Stay: At the end of the movie, Clara decides she doesn't want to go home after all. Unfortunately, the defeated Mouse King decides to take a parting shot by opening her locket, making her vanish and wake up back in the real world.
  • Incredible Shrinking Man: The Mouse King shrinks Clara to the size of a doll (Get it?...).
  • Identical Stranger: When Clara wakes up in the real world, she's introduced to a handsome young man who's the spitting image of the Nutcracker's human identity. It's heavily implied when he gives Clara her missing locket that it's Prince Eric himself.
  • It Was with You All Along: Clara is really the Sugarplum Princess, as revealed after her kiss reverts the Nutcracker back to being his human self (Prince Eric). This was also foreshadowed when Clara's footprints caused snow to melt and flowers to grow.
  • Leave the Two Lovebirds Alone: At the end, Aunt Drosselmeyer drags off a protesting Tommy to give Clara some privacy with the real world Eric.
  • Lured into a Trap: The bats use a facade of a pink castle to lure in, ironically, the Nutcracker, the Major and Captain but not Clara herself, despite how Clara might be more intrigued by the color pink than them.
  • Magic Wand: What the Mouse King uses to shrink people, or turn them into stone.
  • Melancholy Moon: Clara and Nutcracker sit out at night looking at a huge full moon.
  • Motion Capture: The ballet dances were rotoscoped.
  • Must Make Amends: Prince Eric's main motivation; his irresponsibility prompted his father to appoint the Mouse as Parthenia's temporary ruler, but the Mouse King decided he wanted the position permanently and got rid of the prince by transforming him into a nutcracker. His primary goal is to make up for his mistakes by ending the Mouse King's reign. After he plays an instrumental role in the Mouse King's defeat and regains his true form, the people wholeheartedly forgive him and accept him as their king.
  • Mythology Gag: When Clara considers the possibility that she might not be able to return to her own size, she considers how she might live the rest of her life, figuring among other things, that she has some "doll clothes" that might fit.
  • Never My Fault: Major Mint denies that it's his fault Captain Candy almost fell to death in a crevasse, even though he outright (albeit unintentionally) shoved Candy over the edge to keep his balance.
  • No-Holds-Barred Beatdown: The Mouse King delivers a brutal one to Nutcracker in the finale. Good thing he's made of wood...
  • Or Was It a Dream?: Clara wakes up to find her nutcracker missing. While she asks everyone else if they knew where it went, Aunt Drosselmeyer enters, and asks Clara to meet the son of a family friend, who looks exactly like the Nutcracker's human form.
  • Pajama Clad Heroine: As with some versions of the ballet, Clara spends the majority of her adventure in her nightgown.
  • Parental Abandonment: The opening narration by Barbie mentions that Clara's parents died when she was very young, thus she and her younger brother Tommy live with their grandfather.
  • Public Domain Soundtrack: The movie makes liberal use of Tchaikovsky's music.
  • Raised by Grandparents: Due to their parents' deaths, Clara and Tommy live with their grandfather.
  • Redemption Quest: The quest to find the Sugarplum Princess and end the Mouse King's reign, for the Nutcracker.
  • The Scapegoat: Prince Eric. Though he certainly isn't blameless in Parthenia's current predicament—even he acknowledges that the Mouse King only came to power in the first place because he wasn't prepared for the responsibility of running a kingdom—the people seem to place all of the blame on him and forget that several others contributed to the Mouse King's rise to power. Eric's father was the one who actually appointed the Mouse, but he's barely mentioned besides being described as a good king. Not to mention that the Mouse King himself is the one abusing his power instead of using it responsibly. The people forgive him after he defeats the Mouse King as the Nutcracker, proving that he's learned his lesson.
  • Separated by the Wall: When Nutcracker, Major Mint, and Captain Candy are imprisoned in the dungeon, they're held behind an invisible wall that prevents them from being seen or heard by anyone. Clara puzzles over the seemingly empty room for a few moments before she discovers the wall by placing her hand on it, opposite the Nutcracker's.
  • Shifted to CGI: This was the first of many all-CGI Barbie animations. Prior, she had been traditionally animated (though some commercials previously used CGI).
  • The Smurfette Principle: Clara is the only female member of the four-person traveling group on the quest to find the Sugarplum Princess.
  • Starring Smurfette: Clara is the protagonist, as well as the only girl in the main group.
  • Taken for Granite: The Mouse King does this to the captives in his castle prior to the final battle. He also does it earlier to two guards who have failed him.
  • Teleportation with Drawbacks: Clara's locket, which teleports her back to the real world when opened.
  • Those Two Guys: Major Mint and Captain Candy, who are never seen apart.
  • Toyless Toyline Character: Major Mint and Captain Candy didn't get full-size dolls, leaving fans to settle for Tommy and an Ambiguously Brown friend dressed as them. The Mouse King received no toys at all.
  • Transformation Sequence: The Nutcracker has one when he turns into Prince Eric, as does Clara when she turns into the Sugarplum Princess.
  • True Love's Kiss: Clara changes the Nutcracker into Prince Eric, and herself into the Sugarplum Princess, after kissing him on the cheek.
  • Twice-Told Tale: Of the Nutcracker.
  • Vitriolic Best Buds: For all their bickering, Major Mint and Captain Candy are clearly good friends.
  • The Unintelligible: The Snow Fairy and Flower Fairy only communicate through use of high-pitched gibberish.
  • What You Are in the Dark: Having just missed being captured with the others, Clara is left behind on the island with no way to get off and wonders if she should use the locket to get home.
    Clara: What am I saying? I can't leave. I'm their only hope.
  • Your Princess Is in Another Castle!: When they reach the island where the Sugarplum Princess is said to live, the men enter a pink castle, hoping to find the princess inside. Instead, they are trapped in a cage and taken to the Mouse King.