3.5 out of 5 stars
Hey, Barbie! Are you ready for humor, female empowerment and more pink than you can imagine? “Barbie” welcomes audiences to the perfect, magical world of Barbieland, where Barbies run everything, and Kens are just Kens.
With a worldwide box office turnout of $1.213 billion, according to IMDb, and set design wiping out an “entire company’s global supply of pink paint,” according to the Los Angeles Times, “Barbie” has caught our attention this summer. I have been anticipating it (and its memes) since the news first hit the internet. Now that I have seen it, I can say that it is worth the hype.
The movie begins with Barbie (Margot Robbie) experiencing yet another perfect, normal day in Barbieland. That is, until she begins to realize that thoughts of death and flat feet are not normal for Barbies. This calls for a visit to “Weird Barbie” (Kate McKinnon), who tells her she needs to resolve this emotional and psychological imbalance with whoever plays with her in the real world.
Ken (Ryan Gosling) comes along as he seeks Barbie’s affection, but through a tumultuous series of events, realizes that Barbieland isn’t perfect for him either. He is just one of many Kens. He has no agency of his own, he can’t work and there are no horses in Barbieland. He doesn’t even have a house!
However, when he attempts to take the patriarchy of the real world back to Barbieland — making it the Kendom — it is up to Barbie and her playmate, Gloria (America Ferrera), and Gloria’s daughter Sasha (Ariana Greenblatt) to put things back the way they were.
“Barbie” kept the plot interesting and far more serious than I expected from a summer flick about plastic toys. To balance out the heaviness of pointing out the flaws in our entire society, Mattel finds comedic ways to fit nearly every one of their discontinued Barbies. These include the Barbie who has a TV in her back, Barbie’s pregnant friend Midge and one of Barbie’s dogs that poops. This movie is sure to delight lovers of toys and Barbie history.
Ultimately, I was going to give this movie a rating of 3/5 because it was funny, had some great acting and tied in real Barbie history and lore. I added the extra .5 because of the ingenious reference to BBC’s 1995 “Pride and Prejudice” miniseries. Yes, “Depressed Barbie” watches it when she’s sad and I do too. I love you, Mr. Darcy.
I saw the movie with my high school-aged brother and his friends, expecting them to make fun of it afterwards. In reality, seeing “Barbie” with four teenage guys gave me a better idea of how this movie relates to a broader audience. I was surprised when they laughed at the same things I laughed at and how they rooted for Ken in his darkest moments, because I was rooting for him too.
Though I didn’t see “Oppenheimer,” the theatrical counterpart to “Barbie,” the “Barbenheimer” memes were an experience I won’t forget. If you want to learn more about “Oppenheimer” and its intriguing plot, read our Features Editor’s review here.
In the end, I went to see “Barbie” to spend two hours of my life in perfect Barbieland, have fun and enjoy the characters. The film delivered on those things, but I was also able to connect with the deeper message. It’s not right for one group to have all the power while another is relegated to the sidelines. Everyone has the right to have a voice, and “Barbie” calls on us humans to make the change, because we can do it.
Photo from nytimes.com