Wednesday, January 10, 2024

Barbie (2023)

Streaming Service: Max
Movie Name/Year: Barbie (2023)
Genre: Adventure, Comedy, Fantasy
Length: 1h 54min
Rating: PG-13
Director: Greta Gerwig
Writer: Greta Gerwig, Noah Baumbach
Actors: Margot Robbie, Issa Rae, Kate McKinnon, Alexandra Shipp, Emma Mackey, Hari Nef, Sharon Rooney, Ana Cruz Kayne, Dua Lipa, Ritu Arya, Nicola Coughlan, Emerald Fennell, Ryan Gosling, Simu Liu, Kingsley Ben-Adir, Ncuti Gatwa, Scott Evans, John Cena, Michael Cera, America Ferrara, Ariana Greenblatt, Helen Mirran, Will Ferrell
Blurb from IMDb: Barbie and Ken are having the time of their lives in the colorful and seemingly perfect world of Barbie Land. However, when they get a chance to go to the real world, they soon discover the joys and perils of living among humans.

Selina’s Point of View:
I was a bit confused when Barbie was marketed with a PG-13 rating. It’s such a kid-friendly concept based on a kid’s toy, after all. After watching it, I have no doubt that they made the right choice. Barbie wasn’t talking to kids. It was talking to us.
Fifteen minutes into the film I was having fun and getting into it, but I still thought it would be a basic, silly, comedy. I was lost in the dreamworld concocted by the creative team. Once the titular character stepped foot into the real world, however, it became very clear that Barbie was going to be the kind of movie that spoke to deeper issues than a child’s toy usually does.
Getting a movie like this that speaks on the issues of inequality, especially in a time when we are moving backwards, was amazing. I don’t think I blinked throughout most of it. It was an extremely intense watch, that left me sitting in silence when it was over. Even with the mounds of comedic relief piling up throughout, the weight of the lessons within it took some time to digest.

If you’ve heard of anything about Barbie, you’ve definitely heard about America Ferrara’s (How to Train Your Dragon: Homecoming, End of Watch, Ugly Betty) speech. Where her character breaks down how it feels to be a female in our society. How overloaded it can make one feel. Hearing that was something unlike anything I’ve ever felt before when watching a movie.
A whole lot of Barbie made me feel seen. I thought it would be a fun film, and it was, but it wasn’t JUST that.
That’s part of the problem that was pointed out in the movie. It was a female run project, based on a toy aimed at little girls, filled with a cast of women… and it felt like it would be just fun. Just a popcorn flick. The depth shouldn’t have been so surprising, especially with the PG-13 rating, but it was. Yet, if it was a superhero flick with an R-rating, we wouldn’t have had any doubt that the rating was earned in some way.
Barbie makes you look for the problems woven into our society, but also within. It deserves every single drop of praise it’s gotten.

Cat’s Point of View:
The first trailer for Barbie had me hooked. Right out of the gate, it was clear that this wasn’t going to be the movie everyone was expecting when it was announced that the iconic Mattel toy of so many childhoods was getting a full-length live-action movie. (I mean, really, who didn’t do a double-take at that announcement. Barbie was getting a real movie treatment that wasn’t some silly animation or something cutesy that would appear on a kids’ network.)
I went with a group to the theater, and my daughter and I giggled at the giant pink toy boxes people were waiting in line to take their pictures inside, as if they were a life-size Barbie doll too. It was a whole thing. We might actually have done so, but the lines of pink-clad people were just too long, and we didn’t have that kind of time.
Barbie blew me away. It defied all my expectations and gave us a really deep thought-provoking story. Sure, there was still a lot of silliness – but if there wasn’t, it really wouldn’t have been a movie about toys come to life. There was so much nostalgia steeped into every Barbie-land set piece and individual Barbies and Kens, too. I was going through a mental checklist at some points trying to figure out which themed Barbies were represented on screen. This was quite the roller-coaster from giggles to misty eyes.
This cast was ludicrously stacked with talent. Everyone wanted to get in on this girl-power movie. You could have a mini game based around picking out who was playing who. I’m still just noticing people that were in this film. I hadn’t realized ‘til just last week that Ncuti Gatwa (A Midsummer Night's Dream, Sex Education, Doctor Who) played one of the Kens. 

I nearly had a spit-take because of Weird Barbie, played by Kate McKinnon (The Spy Who Dumped Me, Bombshell, DC League of Super Pets). I think most of us that had Barbies inevitably had one doll that ended up like her. (I gave Malibu Barbie a mullet because for the longest time I didn’t have a Ken, so I’m guilty as charged, too.) McKinnon was perfect for that role, and I couldn’t envision anyone else with that part. That, of course, brings me to Margot Robbie (Neighbours, Amsterdam, Babylon). This film simply wouldn’t have worked on any level without her at the helm. Equally, I struggle to envision anyone other than Ryan Gosling (The Nice Guys, First Man, The Gray Man) as the lead Ken. (The behind-the-scenes story of why he eventually accepted the role is actually really funny and sweet, too.)
All the visuals were on point, and I loved how the bridge between how kids play with Barbies and the movements of the actual living figures was represented. The soundtrack was also a wild and wonderful trip from Billie Eilish’s song “What was I made for?” (which broke my heart) to Spice Girls and a Nicki Minaj collab of “Barbie World.”
Overall, Barbie was a feast for the eyes and had good messages, both full of feels and thought provoking. I just roll my eyes at anyone complaining that the movie was a feminist fever dream. Greta Gerwig (Nights and Weekends, Lady Bird, Little Women) is a genius. She was the perfect writer/director to take one of the most culturally significant toys ever to the big screen and create such an iconic movie that has, itself, become a cultural touchstone.
I would watch Barbie many times over and can only encourage any doubters to give it a chance.

Rotten Tomatoes Critic Score – 88%
Rotten Tomatoes Audience Score – 83%
Metascore – 80%
Metacritic User Score – 5.1
IMDB Score – 6.9/10
Trust the Dice: Selina’s Rating 5/5
Trust the Dice: Cat’s Rating 5/5
P.S. Max also has a sign language version of Barbie.
Movie Trailer:

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