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Western Animation / Barbie: Princess Charm School

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You can tell she's a princess
She doesn't need a crown
You can tell she's a princess
She'll turn the world around

Barbie: Princess Charm School is a Direct to Video movie released by Mattel in 2011. It is preceded by Barbie: A Fairy Secret and followed by Barbie: A Perfect Christmas.

Barbie plays Blair Willows, a lowly waitress in the kingdom of Gardania, trying to get money for her sick adoptive mother. When her adoptive sister Emily placed her name in a lottery, Blair didn't expect to be a student at Princess Charm School, a school dedicated to teaching rich girls to be princesses and ladies royal.

Blair decides to go into the school in hope of getting the status of lady royal to help her family. However, she is humiliated from time to time. When Dame Devin suspects Blair looks a lot like the kingdom's missing princess, she goes out of her way to keep her from taking the throne to ensure her daughter Delancy becomes the new ruler of the kingdom in place of the late royal family. Blair soon realizes she might be the lost princess Sophia, and she and her friends begin an adventure to get the Gardenia Crown.

Barbie: Princess Charm School provides examples of the following tropes:

  • Arc Words: "Every girl has princess potential."
  • Awesome Moment of Crowning: The students of Princess Charm School are all crowned the princesses and Lady Royals of their kingdom at the end of the year during the graduation ceremony. Blair gets one herself when Delancy gives the crown to its true owner, allowing the crown to recognize Blair as Princess Sophia.
  • Big Bad: Dame Devin, who spends the entire film bullying Blair and trying to get her expelled because she suspects that Blair may be the rightful heir to the throne.
  • Big Damn Heroes: Blair, Hadley and Isla disrupting Delancy's coronation just in time for Blair to announce that is her crown, not Delancy's, and she's the true heir to the throne.
  • Big "SHUT UP!": Blair shouts, "WAIT!" to stop the coronation and announce she's the real heir to the throne.
  • Blue Blood: Only royalty and rich girls can attend the school. "Commoners" can try to win a scholarship by entering a lottery.
  • Book on the Head: Delancy manages to walk around with about twenty books. On the other hand, Blair has trouble with just one and finally falls on her classmates.
    • Later, Headmistress Privet exaggerates the trope while, in private lessons for Blair, she teaches the girl how to carry a dozen books on the head. While standing on one foot. With a flower vase in each hand.
  • Call-Forward: At the graduation ceremony, the student Josette is crowned Lady Royal of her kingdom Zinnia, which will be the home world of Princess Alexa in Barbie and the Secret Door.
  • Chekhov's Skill: Hadley's ability in sports allows her to cross the Laser Hallway quickly, and Isla's talent for music is what releases the three girls at the very end; when she guesses the new code of the door from the buttons's sounds.
  • Classical Music Is Boring: The dance class in couple starts with classical music, but Delancy suddenly makes Blair trip. In order to cover it, Prince Nicholas, Blair's partner, suddenly switch the moves for a much more modern dance. Everybody (but Delancy) soon imitates him, and strangely the background music changes accordingly, becoming a techno version of the tune. One of the princes even starts breakdancing.
  • Cloudcuckoolander: Portia, to the point even Dame Devin doesn't bother to correct Portia when the latter holds the book over her head instead of balancing it on her head; Devin just says, "You're doing fine," and moves on, rolling her eyes.
  • Complexity Addiction: Overlapping with Revealing Cover Up; Dame Devin could have just left Blair alone and let her become a Lady Royal, but instead she tried to get Blair expelled and began very obviously targeting her with mistreatment and bullying, which led to Blair, Isla, Hadley, and even Delancey becoming suspicious about her true motivations.
  • Conscience Makes You Go Back: Blair almost leaves Princess Charm School to escape Dame Devin and Delancey's bullying, but Miss Privet convinces her to stay by encouraging her and offering private tutoring to help her catch up on her schoolwork.
  • Contrived Coincidence: The movie kicks off because Delancey just happens to pick Blair's name for the scholarship lottery. Later, this is compounded when Blair turns out to be the long-lost Princess Sophia.
  • Cool Crown: Of course the dresses have matching tiaras, with jeweled heart ones for the princesses and generic flower headdresses for Lady Royals. The royal crown of Gardania, on the other hand, is the most important of them all; it is to be worn by the heir to the throne, and glows when placed on the head of its rightful owner.
  • Covers Always Lie: On the DVD cover and its summary, Delancy is described as one of Blair's good friends, and Isla is nowhere to be seen. See Toyless Toyline Character below.
  • Custom Uniform: After Blair's, Hadley's and Isla's uniforms are torn apart, they use the leftover material to hastily stitch together new ones in their theme colors so they'll still be allowed into class (they'll be sent out if they aren't in school uniforms). Delancy later remakes her own uniform in the same style, signaling her Heel Realization.
  • Cute Clumsy Girl: Blair is not very coordinated at the beginning, and often finds herself stumbling and fumbling while trying to accomplish things the other students do easily. She gets teased and humiliated relentlessly for it until Miss Privet's tutoring helps her improve.
  • Damsel out of Distress: The three heroines locked in a strong room immediately try strength, technology and finally intelligence to escape. It works.
  • Dance of Romance: Happens twice. One is at a class and the other at the end of the movie. Note that the scenes have different music playing.
  • Dance Party Ending: The movie ends on this, set to the song Isla plays at the after-party.
  • Disappeared Dad: We never see or hear about Delancy's dad—we also never hear about Blair and her sister, Emily, having an adoptive father (although it is entirely possible that Ms. Willows adopted Blair and Emily as a single parent).
  • Doesn't Know Their Own Birthday: Blair's mom adopted her after finding her abandoned as a baby, so Blair doesn't know when her birthday is. Instead, she celebrates it on the day her mom found her. This becomes a plot point when Blair and her friends realize her "birthday" is April 26, the same day the royal family died in a car crash.
  • Doorstop Baby: Blair was found on her mom's doorstep as a baby. The fact that this happened on the same day as the car crash that killed the royal family is what leads Blair to realize she's actually Princess Sophia.
  • Easily Forgiven: Delancy is forgiven for her hostile attitude and is crowned Blair's Lady Royal.
  • Fairy Companion: All the PCS-students have a "personal princess assistant" in the form of pixie sprites who resemble their princesses (or lady royals) when it comes to their interests/personalities.
    • Blair's sprite is a pink one named Grace and is a bit of klutz, but ultimately very helpful, supportive and a good friend.
    • Hadley's sprite is a turquoise one named Caprice and she's sporty/athletic like Hadley is.
    • Isla's sprite is a blue one named Harmony, which doubles as a Meaningful Name because the definition of the name is "the combination of simultaneously sounded musical notes to produce chords and chord progressions with a pleasing effect," reflecting Isla's love and passion for creating music.
    • Delancy's sprite is a green one named Wickellia, which also doubles as a Meaningful Name since the sprite is mean like the student she assists (at least until Delancey reforms).
  • Fictional Country: The kingdom of Gardenia. Blair inherits it at the end.
  • Fish out of Water: Blair has spent most of her life living in a poor area and is a lot more comfortable waiting tables in a cafe than hobnobbing with royalty. When she arrives at the titular school, she quickly discovers that she sticks out like a sore thumb and lags far behind her peers in class.
  • Foil:
    • Blair and Delancy. Both are implied to be deeply insecure for different reasons, but while Blair is outwardly shy and prone to self-doubt, Delancey copes by acting like an Alpha Bitch and bullying others to prop up her ego.
    • Blair's mom to Dame Devin. Both are single mothers who've worked hard to raise their children, but while Dame Devin is a domineering parent who mostly seems to see her daughter as a tool to gain power, Blair's mom genuinely loves her children and raised them to be good, caring people.
  • Foreshadowing:
    • Dame Devin is quietly shocked the first time she gets a look at Blair's face. This is because Blair looks almost exactly like the late Queen Isabella at that age, which in turn foreshadows that Blair is really Isabella's daughter, Princess Sophia.
    • When our heroines need to enter Dame Devin's vault, what's the code they use to open the door? The date that Blair's biological parents, King Reginald and Queen Isabella, died, and the day the baby Sophia was left on someone's doorstep—also known as "the day it all came together". Rather telling, no?
  • Formal Full Array of Cutlery: During the dinner scene at the palace, Headmistress Privet reminds students they must begin with forks which are the most on the outside.
  • Friend-or-Idol Decision: Delancy has to pick whether to give the crown to Dame Devin so she can crown her, or to Blair, the crown's true owner; she chooses the latter, which reveals her as the kingdom's missing princess Sophia.
  • Gem-Encrusted: The bodices on the dresses at the end look like the front was cut out of huge gemstones.
  • Generation Xerox:
    • Queen Isabella looks exactly like her daughter, Blair Willows/Sophia when they were PCS-students.
    • Dame Devin and her daughter Delancy look a lot alike. They also both act alike at first, but turn out to be very different at the end (see Like Father, Unlike Son).
  • Gold Makes Everything Shiny: The dresses at the end have gold trimmings, and the tiaras are mostly gold.
  • Gorgeous Garment Generation: The royal crown give Blair a new dress.
  • Happily Adopted: Blair loves her family so much she is willing to go to Princess Charm School just for the money needed to make a better life for her adopted mother and sister. Her little sister Emily is also adopted as stated by Blair when opening Emily's care package.
  • Heel–Face Turn: Delancy has hers when she overhears Blair learning about her (potential) true nature as the lost princess, and the true heir to the throne and helps Blair and her two best friends reclaim the crown to determine the truth before graduation, when she'll become Queen.
  • Hidden Depths: Though Delancey appears to be an Alpha Bitch at first, she's later revealed to be a decent person who would rather do what's right than whatever it takes to get ahead. She's also revealed to have an Abusive Parent, explaining why she puts up a haughty front and acts like others are beneath her.
  • Honorary Princess: Discussed by Emily, in her Princess Phase, who assumes that Blair would do perfectly at the Royal School. Also lampshaded by the first song, "You can tell she's a princess", which pretty much describes the trope. Even if Blair turn out to be the lost princess Sophia, the legitimate heir to the throne.
  • Humanlike Animal Aging: Prince. He was a puppy when Blair was one year old, and must be around the same age. She is around 17 in the present, and so must be Prince. The problem is, big dogs rarely live older than 15, and when they do, they are very weakened by age. Prince still act like he’s in his prime.
  • Idiosyncratic Wipes: Several of these occur throughout the movie.
  • Irony: Blair wins the lottery and gets to go to the titular Royal School, yet it’s eventually revealed she was a princess all along.
  • Improbable Infant Survival: Years ago, the royal family of Gardania was killed in a car crash; however, the baby Sophia simply disappeared, leaving open the possibility that she survived. She did, and was adopted under the name "Blair Willows."
  • Laser Hallway: The girls have to cross one at one point.
  • Lessons in Sophistication: Classes in this school are mostly this.
  • Letting Her Hair Down:
    • When Blair is introduced, she has her hair in a Prim and Proper Bun. When she changes into her school uniform, she switches to wearing her hair mostly loose with a small ponytail on one side. During the graduation ceremony,when the crown reveals her as Princess Sophia and transforms her outfit, her hair falls entirely loose with wavy curls.
    • Delancy wears a bun when she is introduced, but by the coronation she lets it down with curls, which shows her Heel–Face Turn.
    • As do Hadley and Isla, though for party use.
  • Like Father, Unlike Son: Though they act a lot alike at first, being Alpha Bitches who target and bully Blair, Delancey turns out to be very different from her mother in the end. Dame Devin was willing to orchestrate an assassination for the sake of power, but after realizing that Blair might be Princess Sophia, Delancey has a Heel Realization and begins opposing her mother's attempts to cover up the truth. This culminates in her Friend-or-Idol Decision at the climax, when she does the right thing by crowning Blair to see if she really is Princess Sophia rather than let her mother make her Queen.
  • Lost Orphaned Royalty: Blair turns out to be Princess Sophia, who survived the car crash that killed her parents and was abandoned on a doorstep, leading her to be adopted and raised with no knowledge of her true identity.
  • Loyal Phlebotinum: Gardania's Magical Crown will light up when a new ruler is coronated, but only if that ruler is the rightful heir to the throne. This is how Blair definitively proves she's Princess Sophia, as the crown lights up and transforms her school uniform into a ballgown when it's placed on her head.
  • Mass "Oh, Crap!": Done by everyone in the throne room, and Ms. Willows and Emily watching the TV, when Blair arrives to reclaim her crown and announce her true heritage as Princess Sophia. And they get an even bigger one when Dame Devin accidentally admits she murdered the royal family.
  • Meaningful Name: The name "Devin" has many meanings, specifically "fawn" or "poet", but it also sounds a lot like "devine", specifically matching Dame Devin and Delancy's outlook.
  • Mother Makes You King: Dame Devin, in keeping with her Stage Mom tendencies, wants Delancey to become Queen and is willing to go to some extreme lengths to make it happen. She doesn't seem to want to be Queen Dowager unless she was a Regent for Life after the king, queen, and princess died.
  • Multinational Team: Many of the characters are different nationalities/ethnicities.
    • Blair is American/European.
    • Hadley is Latina.
    • Isla is Japanese.
    • Portia is Irish/Scottish.
    • Josette is black.
  • Mythology Gag:
    • Blair, Hadley and Isla aren't the first princesses to be named as such; three of the sisters in Barbie in the 12 Dancing Princesses also had those names. That movie also mentioned a deceased Queen named Isabella.
    • Blair finds a nutcracker doll that looks like the Nutcracker from Barbie in the Nutcracker in Dame Devin's vault.
  • Near-Villain Victory: Dame Devin comes within two seconds of having her daughter crowned, but Blair arrives last-minute to reclaim it.
  • Never Say "Die": Zig-zagged; while the movie has no problem stating that the royal family died, when it's revealed that Dame Devin was the one who killed them, she merely claims that she "eliminated" them.
  • Never Trust a Trailer: In the first trailer, Delancey is described as one of Blair's good friends, and Isla is nowhere to be seen.
  • Not Quite Dead: When the Royal Family died in a car crash, it turns out the baby Sophia survived, and was found on the doorstep of Ms. Willows’ apartment. She turns out to be Blair herself.
  • Oh, Crap!: Dame Devin gets one the moment she first sees Blair's face and realizes how much she resembles Queen Isabella. She has an even bigger one when Blair is crowned instead of Delancy, and she is revealed to be the missing princess.
  • Only the Chosen May Wield: Gardania's magic crown can only be given to the rightful heir of the throne; its glowing when placed on said owner's head will confirm this. It glows when placed on Blair's head, confirming she is indeed the owner.
  • Our Fairies Are Different: Fairies exist at Princess Charm School, and act as Personal Princess Trainers to the students.
  • Percussive Maintenance: When the Willows's old TV set starts acting up, Blair gets it to work again by adjusting the cables and then smacking it a few times.
  • Pimped-Out Dress: The dresses at the end with gold trimming and jewel bodices.
  • Pottery Barn Poor: If it wasn't for the malfunctioning TV, the Willow's apartment look pretty nice. It's large and clean, with pretty pink and flowered furniture.
  • Power Glows: Gardania's Magical Crown glows when placed on the head of its rightful ruler. This is shown in the climax when Delancey, instead of giving the crown to Dame Devin so she can crown her, she gives it to Blair instead, causing the crown to glow because Blair is the owner.
  • Princess Phase: Emily is so firmly in the phase that, being too young to register in the princess school, she did it for her big sister instead. It works.
  • Princesses Prefer Pink: Blair's fancy dress is pink. Her Custom Uniform is of that color too; and regular uniforms include pink skirts and pumps.
  • Princesses Rule: Gardenia is a kingdom, as late monarch Isabella (Blair's biological mother) was called a queen. Still, Delancy is supposed to sit on the throne while being called a princess. When finally Blair is crowned instead of her, she is referred to as a princess rather than a queen by everyone, certainly to fit the movie's title.
  • Punny Name:
    • Portia comes from the kingdom of Narcissia.
    • Gardania is an obvious take-off of the gardenia.
  • Race Against the Clock:
    • When Blair and her friends find their uniforms vandalized right before an important test (which they have to be wearing uniforms to take), they scramble to improvise Custom Uniforms from the remaining material and race to the testing room in the nick of time.
    • The last third of the film becomes this for Blair as she has to get to the ballroom and reclaim her crown before Delancey becomes the ruler.
  • Rags to Royalty: The Sleeping Beauty type.
  • Real Men Wear Pink: The graduates of Prince Charming Academy had no problem wearing pink vests and ties at graduation.
  • Really Royalty Reveal: Blair starts to suspect it when she and her friends notice her physical resemblance with late Queen Isabella's portrait. However, only the magical crown will confirm this, while shining on Blair's head, revealing her as the rightful heir of the throne.
  • Reasonable Authority Figure: Headmistress Alexandra Privet. She tutors Blair when her royal lessons keep faltering on her, and accepts her for who she is. She's also proud of her when she was revealed as the lost princess.
  • Red Herring: Delancey is set up as an Alpha Bitch and Blair's main rival at school, but ends up having a Heel–Face Turn and helping her after learning that Blair really might be Princess Sophia.
  • Revealing Cover Up: If Dame Devin hadn't been obviously targeting Blair and trying to get her expelled, Blair and her friends might have brushed Blair's resemblance to Queen Isabella off as a coincidence instead of trying to dig deeper and ultimately unraveling Devin's plot to assassinate the royal family and make Delancey Queen.
  • Rewatch Bonus: Once you find out that Blair is the rightful hair to the throne and not Delancey, many events earlier in the film take on a whole new meaning.
  • Royal School: The movie revolves around this trope and includes many aesthetic elements of it, but also subverts it in many ways. The academy is a high school and the setting is Present Day, though there are still some fantasy elements like students having a Fairy Companion. Everyone wears mundane uniforms, reserving ball dresses for important events like graduation. The school also isn't princesses-only: a good portion of students are ladies royal in training.note 
  • Scholarship Student: Dame Devin and her daughter frequently remind Blair she's only this. Ironically, Dame Devin herself was this when she was a PCS-student — according to Isla and Hadley (Blair's friends/roommates), even though Dame Devin managed to pass the semester, no one chose her as a Lady Royal, not even her sister-in-law, Queen Isabella.
  • Significant Birth Date: Blair celebrates her birthday, which is also the day she was found on Ms. Willows' doorstep, on April 26; it turns out this was the day the royal family was killed in a car crash and the baby Sophia went missing, cluing her in about her true identity. Subverted, as it's not really her birthday, just the day she celebrates it since she doesn't know when her real birthday is.
  • Sole Survivor: The only member of the royal family who was not killed in the car crash was the baby Sophia, who ended up on the doorstep of the Willows' apartment, where she was adopted and renamed Blair.
  • Spanner in the Works: It's highly likely Dame Devin would've succeeded in her plot, had it not been for Emily entering Blair's name into the PCS lottery.
  • Spear Counterpart: Prince Charming Academy is the brother school to PCS.
  • Spectacular Spinning: To delay the coronation so Blair and her trio can arrive in time to reclaim the crown, Delancy makes everyone spin around seven times in honor of the "Seven Hills of Gardania".
  • Stranger in a Strange School: Blair compares herself to "a burp in a symphony." However, she not only manages to fit in and succeed in the end, it turns out she was secretly born royalty and belonged there all along.
  • Strong Family Resemblance: The late Queen Isabella looked exactly like Blair in her youth, which is the first clue that Blair is the missing Princess Sophia.
  • Stunned Silence: The moment Dame Devin first gets a good look at Blair's face, she is silently stunned for about thirty seconds, which confuses Blair. It isn't until later that Blair learns she looks just like Queen Isabella, and Dame Devin was shocked by the obvious resemblance and the realization that she might be looking at the missing princess.
  • They Wasted a Perfectly Good Sandwich: When Blair, Isla and Hadley leave their table after lunch in the cafeteria scene, their plates are still completely full.
  • Toyless Toyline Character: Isla. Her role in the movie was intended for Delancey, and vice versa (as indicated by the backdrop for some of the doll boxes that depicts Isla and Portia together) when dolls were created before the scenario; for some reason, the two wound up essentially swapping places in the finished product.
  • Trailers Always Spoil: The trailers and DVD cover spoil the revelation that Blair is the missing princess.
  • Transformation Sequence: For the sake of Merchandise-Driven and Rule of Glamorous, Blair transforms into Princess "Sophia" at the end once Delancey gives the crown to her.
  • Two-Teacher School: Literally. No teacher is seen outside of Dame Devin and Mrs Privet. During her introduction speech at the very beginning of school year, Dame Devin mentions she will quit teaching by the next year. And then, Mrs Privet will take over her classes. Apparently, nobody is here to counterbalance the absence.
  • Vile Villain, Saccharine Show: Dame Devin, for being one of the few characters in a Barbie movie to have actually murdered someone.
  • We Need a Distraction: Delancy manages to delay the coronation with various mundane yet important rules in the kingdom's laws to give Blair and her friends time to arrive and reclaim her crown.
  • Wham Line:
    • Hadley realizes Blair is the lost Princess Sophia:
      Hadley: I'm thinking maybe Baby Sophia didn't die in that crash. Maybe she was found and left on someone's doorstep! [...] Look at the portrait, you look exactly like Queen Isabella! You could be Baby Sophia! If it's true, and Dame Devin and Delancy know it, that would explain why they're so awful to you! Because you're the rightful heir to the throne, and not Delancy!
    • Blair reveals her true identity to the crowd:
      Blair: I am here to make a decree to the throne because... I am Princess Sophia! Daughter of Queen Isabella!
    • Dame Devin accidentally reveals she was the one who murdered the queen:
      Dame Devin: You useless child! Do you have any idea what you've done?! I eliminated Queen Isabella so you could be princess one day!!
  • Wham Shot: Quite a few. First, there’s the portrait of young Queen Isabella, who is the splitting image of Blair, prompting her to realize she’s the lost princess Sophia who survived in the car crash). Second, when Delancy gives the crown to Blair instead of Dame Devin, the crown glows once placed on her head, revealing she’s the rightful owner and transforms into her true form following such.
  • You Are Better Than You Think You Are: Miss Privet to Blair throughout the movie, also Hadley and Isla and her sister Emily.

There’s a princess in every girl.


Barbie Princess Charm School

The main trio consists of Blair Willows (white), Hadley Ainsley (Latina), and Isla Kokoro (Japanese).

How well does it match the trope?

2.17 (6 votes)

Example of:

Main / TokenTrio

Media sources: