Barbie tells a story to her little sister Kelly, who doesn't have confidence in her painting abilities.
Rapunzel lives as a servant to the evil witch Gothel, who resides in a manor isolated in the woods. She grows up believing that Gothel saved her from abandonment as an infant. Rapunzel finds companionship in Penelope, an outgoing dragon, and Hobie, a worrisome and anxious rabbit. Rapunzel spends what free time she has painting beautiful pictures of places she dreams of going when she is free one day. However, Gothel disapproves of Rapunzel's hobbies and accuses her of not appreciating everything that Gothel has done for her.
While preparing tea for Gothel, Penelope accidentally finds a secret staircase which leads to an old room below the manor. In it they discover a gift from her parents who allegedly deserted her: a silver hairbrush engraved with a message from her mother and father. Later, she also discovers a tunnel leading to the nearby village. Rapunzel takes this path to the small kingdom and is able to rescue a young princess named Katrina from a pitfall.
Soon after, Rapunzel is introduced to Katrina's older brother, Prince Stefan. He explains to her that the trap Katrina managed to escape was put there by King Wilhelm, the ruler of an opposing kingdom. Enchanted by the mysterious maiden, Stefan asks to meet her again, to which she agrees, though their meeting is ended abruptly before Stefan can tell her his name. Rapunzel quickly rushes back to the woods to avoid being discovered by Gothel. Unknown to Rapunzel, Gothel's pet otter, Otto, has witnessed the entire exchange. A furious Gothel demands Rapunzel to tell her the prince's name. Rapunzel insists that she does not know it, but Gothel does not believe her, thinking Rapunzel has been lying. Rapunzel tells her that she cannot keep her locked away forever to which Gothel responds, Watch me. Gothel destroys Rapunzel's paints and paintings before transforming the bedroom into a more secure, seemingly unescapable tower and stations Hugo, Penelope's father, outside. Gothel refuses to let Rapunzel go until she tells her the name of the boy she met.
That night, Rapunzel then wakes up and recites the engraving on the hairbrush. The Hairbrush then magically transforms into a paintbrush. Rapunzel is left alone with Hobie and Penelope, who cheer her up with new paint to replace the ones taken away from by Gothel. Hobie discovers the paintbrush, and Rapunzel begins to paint. It soon becomes clear that she doesn't need paint, and whatever she paints becomes real. Rapunzel paints the village and then uses the painting as a portal, arriving at the palace gardens and meeting Stefan. She shows him the brush and asks for help to find its maker, but insists that he never tell her his name, worrying that Gothel will find out. She meets a silversmith who says his brother, who lives in King Wilhelm's kingdom, made it. The silversmith has not seen his brother in years, making him very upset. Stefan realizes that the feud is hurting the villagers more than he realized.
Afterward, Stefan asks Rapunzel to a masked ball. She replies that she will meet him there. He tells that her hair is a 'beautiful give-away.' Penelope soon arrives via the painting and explains that Gothel is coming, and they must leave so that Hugo will not be punished. Rapunzel leaves, painting a way out. When back at the tower, Rapunzel uses the paintbrush to paint herself a beautiful gown. Hobie and Penelope provide a mask. Unfortunately, the paintbrush's magic light can be seen and Otto sneaks in. He quickly steals the invitation without their notice and presents it to Gothel. Gothel arrives at the tower, cuts off Rapunzel's hair, and shatters the paintbrush. She also manages to destroy the painting of the village. Because she thinks Rapunzel refused to tell the truth, Gothel angrily puts a spell on her tower, which eternally holds people who lie. Gothel then storms to King Fredrick and Stefan's castle. Back at the tower, Rapunzel manages to escape with the help of Penelope and Hugo, as the spell only works if the prisoner is a liar, which Rapunzel is not, so it allows her to leave. She then rushes to save Stefan and his family by riding on Penelope who finally overcome her fear of heights.
Stefan is lured away from the party by Gothel, disguised as Rapunzel. Gothel reveals herself and begins her attack. King Wilhelm comes before King Fredrick, hoping to end the feud by force. It is revealed that the source of the feud is that Wilhelm believes Fredrick kidnapped his daughter, who has been missing since she was an infant. Fredrick replies that he planned nothing of the sort and he has no idea where Wilhelm's daughter is, to which Gothel reveals that she took Rapunzel because Wilhelm "loved" her but married another woman; he saw Gothel only as a friend; and the overall plot was to cause the kingdoms to destroy each other. Rapunzel arrives just in time to stop them from fighting, and King Wilhelm immediately recognizes her as his daughter. The witch attacks Rapunzel with magic. As Rapunzel runs into the royal maze, she remembers the magic painting of the tower that is still there and tricks Gothel into running into it. Gothel finds herself in Rapunzel's tower, where Hugo reminds her she can't escape, as she has a lying heart.
Rapunzel is reunited with her biological parents, and marries Stefan, thus ending the feud as well as uniting the two kingdoms. Hugo, Penelope, and Hobie live in their castle with them. It's revealed that Otto now serves Gothel, but it's implied that she died soon after. A shot is seen of Rapunzel and Stefan walking along a beach, the same one that Rapunzel painted with a castle in the distance, implying her dreams came true. The scene becomes the painting Barbie had been working on.
Kelly now feels better and begins painting with blue, after Barbie reminds her that creativity is the true magic in art.Kelly Sheridan as Barbie / RapunzelChantal Strand as Kelly / Princess KatrinaAnjelica Huston as Gothel, the evil witchMark Hildreth as Prince StefanCree Summer as PenelopeDavid Kaye as Hugo / GeneralIan James Corlett as Hobie / Palace GuardPeter Kelamis as Otto / The Skinny SwordsmanChristopher Gaze as King WilhelmRussell Roberts as King FredrickTerry Klassen as The Baker / The Fat SwordsmanBritt McKillip as MelodyDanny McKinnon as TommyJocelyne Loewen as LorenaDale Wilson as the Silversmith
The film makes heavy use of Antonín Dvořák's Symphony No. 9, also known as the New World Symphony - presumably a reference to Rapunzel's venture into the 'new world' of the village.The film was rated a B- by Entertainment Weekly magazine.Moira McCormick (2002-10-05). "Barbie Returns In 'Rapunzel'". Billboard.
The Barbie as Rapunzel campaign expands on many of the promotional components from Mattel's Barbie in the Nutcracker, which had a 94% sell-through rate and sales of more than 3.5 million units. Print ads started one week before street date, and Ross says they are expected to generate 260 million consumer impressions through the end of the year. TV spots also began airing on Nickelodeon and the Cartoon Network in August. Scott Hettrick (2002-10-11). "BARBIE'S HAIR-RAZING TALE". Sun-Sentinel.
Anjelica Huston delivers an entertainingly menacing voice as evil Gothel and the producers have imbued the much more simplistic but typically dour original Brothers Grimm tale with multiple characters that kids will find engaging. Chris J. Parker (2002-11-01). "'Rapunzel' Barbie trades hairbrush for paintbrush". Inland Valley Daily Bulletin.
The movie is enhanced by its soundtrack, which features music performed by the London Symphony Orchestra. The computer-generated animation is still a bit clumsy, especially in this post-Shrek era. But it's watchable, especially for younger viewers. Neil Buckley (2003-02-08). "Barbie's new roles play to a new audience: Making a movie star was a smart move for Mattel, says Neil Buckley". Financial Times.
Her 2002 film, the 76-minute Barbie as Rapunzel, with the voice of actress Anjelica Huston as the evil witch Gothel, was a bigger success... It tied in with merchandise including a Barbie as Rapunzel doll - with the longest hair of any Barbie since her creation - dolls representing the other characters, an "Enchanted Tower" playset and a range of themed products, including denim jackets, watches, backpacks, musical hairbrushes and hair extension gift sets.
The DVD and VHS was released on October 1, 2002.