Review of 'Barbie'

barbie.jpg The much-anticipated “Barbie” film finally hits the big screen and it is, surprisingly, much more than you might expect.

Barbie (Margot Robbie) lives in the magical, fantastic “Barbieland” surrounded by other Barbie (doll) variations including some discontinued models who run the world as well as various versions of Ken (Ryan Gosling). When she has unusual thoughts about mortality the magic starts to leave her life so she is encouraged by “Weird Barbie” (Kate McKinnon) to travel to the real world to find what is happening to the child playing with her. Arriving at Venice Beach with a stowaway Ken she very quickly gets into trouble, attracting the attention of Mattel's (the maker of the Barbie toy) CEO (Will Ferrell) who struggles to find and return her to “Barbieland”. Ken, meanwhile, has learned about the dominant role men play in the real world and returns to Barbieland spreading “manly” thoughts around and the Ken's quickly take control. Will Barbie be able to solve her existential crisis and save Barbieland? Will Barbieland ever be the same again?

Quite a knowing wink to the icon that is “Barbie” that somehow manages to satisfy both the fans and detractors, indeed, early in the film the issue of Barbie enforcing unrealistic body stereotypes is confronted head-on and even over the credits we hear a remake of 1990's Aqua hit “I'm a Barbie Girl” – which is most definitely NOT a pro-Barbie song. The film looks absolutely amazing with stunning effects and, yes, copious amounts of pink splashed about the place. There is a lot of irony here in both the dialogue and the settings. Watching the film it is funny to see how Mattel, who helped produce it, turns into one of the real baddies here, perhaps much like the Church of Latter-Day Saint's has come out in support of the musical “The Book of Mormon” despite the rather brutal attack it makes on their religion?

Margot Robbie takes a radical detour from her completely opposite Harley Quinn character that she has up to now been known for. As Barbie she has the task of travelling from being completely naïve, living a repetitive, boring life into saving any sort of life at all for herself and her fellow Barbies (and Kens). Ryan Gosling has less to work with here, having to simply channel any stereotypical male behaviour which he does with some aplomb.

The message may a bit superficial but “Barbie” is a lot of fun, looks great and has some intelligent, witty dialogue with great performances from it's all-star cast.

Rating: “Nearly perfect, but not quite”

Review Date: 2023-08-20

Directed by: Greta Gerwig

Studio: Warner Bros.

Year: 2023

Length: 114 minutes

Genre: Fantasy