Barbie (2023)

Barbie is a 2023 American fantasy comedy film directed by Greta Gerwig and written by Gerwig and Noah Baumbach. Based on the Barbie fashion dolls by Mattel, it is the first live-action Barbie film after many computer-animated direct-tovideo and streaming television films. The film stars Margot Robbie as Barbie and Ryan Gosling as Ken, who go on an adventure of self-discovery following an existential crisis, with an ensamble cast that includes America Ferrera, Kate McKinnon, Michael Cera, Ariana Greenblatt, Issa Rae, Rhea Perlman, Helen Mirren, and Will Ferrell.

Stereotypical Barbie (“Barbie”) and a wide range of other Barbies all live in Barbieland, a matriachal society where all women are self-confident, self-sufficient, and successful. While their Ken counterparts spend their days enjoying recreational activities at the beach, the Barbies hold all important job positions such as doctors, lawyers, and politicians. Stereotypical Ken (“Ken”), Barbies boyfriend, is only happy when with Barbie and wants a closer relationship, but Barbie turns him down for a life of independence and female friendships.

During a dance party, Barbie suddenly starts to worry about death. The next day, she finds she can no longer complete her usual routine and discovers blemishes on her skin and imperfections in her hair. Weird Barbie, a smart, but disfigured outcast, tells her that to cure her problems, she must travel into the real world and find the child playing with her. On her way to the real world, Barbie finds Ken in the backseat of her car, and hesitantly allows him to go with her.

Arriving at Venice Beach, the two cause chaos and are arrested, alarming the Mattel, CEO, who demands they be caught right right away. Barbie tracks down her owner, a tween named Sasha, who criticizes her for glamourising unrealistic beauty standards. Upset, Barbie discovers that Gloria, a Mattel employee and Sasha’s mother is the reason for her existential crisis, transferring her concerns to Barbie. Gloria and Sasha rescue Barbie for the Mattel CEO and the three go to Barbieland together.

Meanwhile, Ken learns about the American patriachal system, and feels important and accepted for the first time. Returning to Barbieland, Ken convinces the Kens to into taking over and the Barbies are forced into submissive roles such as maids, housewives and girlfriends. Barbie arrives and tries to convince Ken and the Barbies to return to the way things were, only to turned down. She gets upset, but Gloria inspires her with a speech about the problems of being a woman. With the encouragement of Sasha, Gloria, Weird Barbie, Allan, and other discontinued Barbies, they free themselves from the Kens. They minipulate the Kens to fight amound themselves, allowing the Barbies to regain their systemic power, and preventing the Kens from altering Barbieland for male superiority.

This isn’t your typical Barbie film, not just because it’s not animated, but because it is aimed at older audiences. There is lots of sexual innuendos and mild inappropriate language, except for the “f-word” being bleeped. There is also violence, but it is mild and played for comedy. Other than these things, there is no other adult content like drugs, drinking, or smoking.

This is a fun, and funny film for the most part, but at times, it is overly cute and cheesy, almost to the point of being unenjoyable. There are quite a few really fun moments, like the dancing scenes and the scene where Barbie, Gloria, and Sasha are being chased by the Mattel CEO and his upper level employees. Margot Robbie was an excellent choice to play Barbie, although she’s not quite as thin as a typical Barbie. Ryan Gosling did a really job, but he was miscast as Ken, as Ken is supposed to be perfect in every way, and Gosling has a lazy eye, that at times in the movie, you can’t unsee. Nothing against lazy eyes (I have one myself), it’s just not the “Ken” look and this could have been fixed for the film.

Margot Robbie does an outstanding job. Rhea Perlman is great as Ruth Handler, the inventor of Barbie. America Ferrera is fantastic as Gloria. Ariana Greenblatt does a fine job as Sahsa. Issa Ray is good, not great. Kate McKinnon is excellent as Weird Barbie. Micahel Cera does fine as Allan. Helen Mirren is the perfect narrator for the movie. As far as Will Ferrell in this feature, this is another typical WF role for him, although he is funny in a few scenes, his character is also very annoying, and the film could’ve done without him.

Despite the cheesiness of this movie, it is still very entertaining for the most part. The costumes, makeup, and hairstyling is fantastic. The soundtrack is perfect, except when The Indigo Girls’ “Closer to Fine” is played, it doesn’t fit, but I think that’s the point. The sets are amazing too. Some of the Barbie and Ken characters (not the main two) are miscast, as they don’t fit the look of any of the dolls.

There are a few scens that will make you cry, some that will make you laugh out loud, and some that make you want to get up and dance. This film may or may not have you wanting to go down the Barbie aisle, digging through boxes to find your old Barbies, or buying a collectable on eBay, but it will have you entertained for a little less than two hours.

Overall, this movie is a bit too silly, at moments a bit too cutesy, but a pretty enjoyable film. Would I go see it again? No. If the plotline had been different and many other things like Gosling as Ken and the over-the-top silliness had changed as well, I would’ve enjoyed it more. In a way, it almost seems offensive to make children’s toys into foul-mouthed adults, but at the same time, if you look past that, it almost works. 13+ 3.5/5