REVIEW: ‘Barbie’ crushes the patriarchy with style
Director Greta Gerwig’s “Barbie” is the latest film added to director Greta Gerwig’s long list of successful projects. The movie has been highly anticipated since its announcement in 2019. While Christopher Nolan’s “Oppenheimer” was first viewed as counterprogramming to “Barbie,” the idea of watching both films in one weekend, or “Barbenheimer,” took Twitter and other social media platforms by storm with memes, t-shirt designs, and full day schedules detailing how viewers would see both “Barbie” and “Oppenheimer.”
The beloved Barbie is played by the beloved Margot Robbie alongside the beloved Ryan Gosling, who plays the less-beloved Ken doll. Early trailers for “Barbie” suggested the film would be a fun story about a favorite childhood toy, but as the release date neared, it was revealed the film would have more of a plot than most were expecting. “Barbie” explores what it means to be a woman and how the world does its best to make it nearly impossible to be a “good” one.
Barbie, created by the late Ruth Handler and later produced by Mattel, has encompassed just about every kind of woman since its release in March 1959. Barbie has been every race and worked just about every job young girls across the world could ever hope to have since Mattel greatly expanded the Barbie line eight years ago. She’s been the president, a doctor, a journalist, an astronaut, and the list goes on and on. At her core, Barbie was created to show young girls they did not have to fit in the same box for all of eternity. But, through the years, the toy has come under plenty of criticism for body image and overall inclusivity.
This idea that Barbie single handedly destroyed the patriarchy and championed feminism is the central belief in “Barbieland.” The town, which is one of the main settings for the movie, is where all the Barbies and Kens live their perfect, worry-free lives. Oh, and everything is very pink.
Robbie plays the iconic “Stereotypical Barbie.” She has no job or purpose, just like the original model, but that doesn’t stop her from waking every morning with that perfect blonde hair. Barbie’s days are filled with beach trips, women winning all the time, and parties with perfectly executed choreography. It’s absolutely perfect — until it isn’t.
In the film, Barbie’s life is derailed by sudden thoughts of death, the loss of her perfectly pointed feet, and the appearance of cellulite. Now, together with Ken and her real-world owners, Barbie has to repair the tear in the universe or risk losing her beauty forever.
The film is gorgeous, from its perfectly recreated sets of real Barbie houses and cars to its stunning array of outfits for every character. As much as I both laughed and cried I also wished I had everything they wore in my closet. With a star studded cast including Robbie, Gosling, Simu Liu, Will Ferrell, Michael Cera, Kate McKinnon, and America Ferrera, among others, the movie is sure to find itself in plenty of Oscar categories. The Grammys might also be in for a pink evening in 2024 with a soundtrack featuring Billie Eilish, Lizzo, Dua Lipa, Nicki Minaj, Sam Smith, and Khalid.
“Barbie” could not have been executed better with its allotted budget and extensive cast. From the nostalgia, to the laughs, to the moral of the story, it is great from beginning to end. I am now looking forward to those other 17 movies Mattel has in the works.