In an unnamed kingdom, a blonde princess and a brunette pauper are born simultaneously. The princess, Anneliese craves freedom from her royal duties, especially because she wants to marry her tutor and true love, Julian. Despite this, she is informed by her widowed mother, Queen Genevieve, that she must marry the wealthy king of a nearby kingdom because their royal treasury is nearly bankrupt. The pauper, Erika, craves a different sort of freedom as she is an indentured servant at Madame Carp's Dress Emporium to work off her parents' debt, but dreams of becoming a singer and seeing the world.
Queen Genevieve doesn't know that the reason behind the kingdom's bankruptcy is her adviser, Preminger. He has been stealing the gold from the royal mines with his sidekicks, Nick and Nack for a long time. His plan is to have Princess Anneliese go mysteriously missing then bring her back, thus making the queen so grateful that she will ask him to marry Anneliese. Then, Preminger can succeed to the throne and achieve all that he wants as King. While Anneliese is studying with Julian, he tells her that King Dominick (who is disguised as a page) and Ambassador Bismark have come to see her with an engagement gift, a necklace. The Queen wants the wedding to be a week from then, which gives Preminger less time to carry out his evil plan.
Julian takes Anneliese for a day out into the kingdom so that she can be free for once. Anneliese hears Erika singing and goes to listen. Erika is singing in the street to earn money for herself but Madam Carp takes the money. Anneliese and Erika talk to each other and learn they are identical, apart from the crown shaped birthmark Anneliese has on her shoulder and their hair color. They become fast friends and Anneliese returns to the palace. That night, she is being kidnapped along with her cat, Serafina by Nick and Nack, who leave a letter saying she ran away.
Julian suspects that Preminger kidnapped Anneliese so he asks Erika to pretend to be the princess until she is rescued. Preminger is surprised when Erika, as Anneliese, comes to the palace. because he thought she had already been kidnapped. King Dominick decides to reveal himself to Anneliese ( who is really Erika)and walks in on her singing with her beautiful voice. Over time, Erika and Dominick fall in love but Erika is worried about what will happen when people find out she is not Anneliese. The real Anneliese has escaped from Nick and Nack. Julian is able to follow Preminger to the house where they had Anneliese and over hears Preminger's plans to become king. He is discovered by the trio and gets kidnapped. Anneliese is turned away from the palace because the guards think Anneliese is already in there. She gets taken away by Madam Carp because she thinks Anneliese is Erika.
Preminger figures out that the Anneliese in the castle is an impostor. Anneliese had used her cat Serafina to take a clue to the castle about where she was. Unfortunately it is Preminger and his dog Midas who gets the clue and is able to take the real Anneliese to the royal mines with Julian and tells his henchmen to collapse the mine with Anneliese and Julien trapped inside. He goes back to the palace and exposes Erika as a fake and accuses her and Julian of treason. Erika is sent to the dungeon. She sings a lullaby to make the guard asleep and takes his keys so she can escape. As she does, she bumps into King Dominick. He tells her that he doesn't believe what Preminger said about her. In the mines, Anneliese and Julian find out how to restore the kingdom's resources from some rocks that have geodes in them. They confess their love and escape from the mines with an idea they get from Erika's barking cat Wolfie.
Preminger convinces the Queen that Anneliese is dead and says that they must marry to save the kingdom, and since she has no other options she agrees. Before they can be married, Anneliese arrives and tells everyone the truth about Preminger, who, along with Nick and Nack are later arrested. She tells her mother that she wants to marry Julian and that they can save the kingdom. Dominick and Erika say they wish to marry as well, and Madam Carp goes out of business. Erika wants to sing so she doesn't marry Dominick right away, but she returns after realizing that sometimes being free means choosing not to go, but to stay. Anneliese and Julian including Dominick and Erika, all have a double wedding together and their cats, Serafina and Wolfie have many, many, many kittens. They ride off happily together in their wedding carriage.Kelly Sheridan as Princess Anneliese / Erika / NarratorMelissa Lyons as Princess Anneliese (singing voice)Julie Stevens as Erika (singing voice)Alessandro Juliani as JulianMark Hildreth as King DominickMark Luna as King Dominick (singing voice)Martin Short as PremingerKathleen Barr as Serafina and BertieIan James Corlett as WolfieEllen Kennedy as Queen GenevievePam Hyatt as Madame CarpBrian Drummond as NickJan Rabson as Nack / MidasColin Murdock as the Royal SchedulerJanyse Jaud as the Palace MaidLee Tockar as Ambassador BismarckGarry Chalk as HerveRoger Monk as the Minister
This film is the first musical in the series of Barbie CGI films. The entire soundtrack (including popular duets and the opening orchestral theme) can be found on the "Barbie Sings! The Princess Movie Song Collection" CD, released by Mattel in 2004.
The songs in the film are, in chronological order, as follows.
- Free - Performed by Julie Stevens (Erika) & Melissa Lyons (Anneliese)
- How Can I Refuse? - Performed by Martin Short (Preminger)
- Written in Your Heart (opening) - Performed by Julie Stevens (Erika)
- I Am a Girl Like You - Performed by Julie Stevens (Erika) & Melissa Lyons (Anneliese)
- To Be a Princess - Performed by Alessandro Juliani (Julian) & Julie Stevens (Erika)
- The Cat's Meow - Performed by Julie Stevens (Erika)
- If You Love Me for Me - Performed by Julie Stevens (Erika) & Mark Luna (Dominick)
- Written in Your Heart (finale) - Performed by Julie Stevens (Erika) & Melissa Lyons (Anneliese)
- I'm on My Way - Performed by Sara Niemietz
DVD Verdict called it "wholesome entertainment" with "sweet songs tunefully sung" though lacking in grown-up humor. Entertainment Weekly scored it a B+, noting a generally "feminist" story, and DVD extras including seven sing-along tracks. TV Guide scored it 2.5/4, praising the "peppy score" and classic story as distinguishing an otherwise "ordinary Mattel-icized version of the classic tale".
The DVD and VHS was released on September 28, 2004 and distributed by Lionsgate Home Entertainment. The re-release was released on January 5, 2010 by Universal Studios. The DVD also included the movie soundtrack.
A video game for Game Boy Advance, PC, and Macintosh was released in 2004 by Vivendi Universal. In the Game Boy Advance title, the plot follows that of the movie: players must thwart Preminger's attempt to take over the kingdom by marrying Anneliese. Players control four characters: Anneliese, Erika, Serafina, and Wolfie.