I set out to see the Barbie movie with extremely low expectations. I genuinely expected to go in, have a little chuckle, see a lot of pink sets, and go home unphased.
Quite the opposite happened.
While the movie does have a fun and bubbly, stereotypical-Barbie feel to it, the overall message was actually…deep. Like, deep-deep. I-was-crying-in-the-theater, deep. But let’s start with the fun stuff.
The plot of this movie is not what I expected. Barbie wakes up one day and her picture-perfect life is no longer just that – perfect. Her feet are flat on the ground (*gasp*), her morning waffles are burnt, and her shower is cold. Oh, and she’s having uncontrollable thoughts of death. Because of this, Barbie enlists the help of Weird Barbie – a Barbie who was “played with too hard” and is now permanently stuck in the splits with chopped, Sharpie-streaked hair. (So, that Barbie we all had as kids, right?) Weird Barbie tells our Barbie (who is often referred to as Stereotypical-Barbie) that the reason she’s having these thoughts and other issues is because whoever is playing with her in the Real World is sad. And with that, Stereotypical Barbie sets off into the Real World to find the human playing with her and save the day.
A better cast could not have been chosen for this movie. Margot Robbie is the epitome of stereotypical Barbie. The tan skin, bleach-blonde hair, and perfect makeup made her look plastic and straight from a box. When her character’s life starts crumbling (along with her “perfect” features), you really realize how well Margot encapsulates the character. Not even just her looks match Barbie, but her attitude and personality: the over-excited greetings, the carpool karaoke moments, the daily get-ready-with-me routine. Ryan Gosling’s Ken was perfectly matched to Margot’s Barbie. They are exactly what I envision when I think of their doll counterparts. The casting of Ryan Gosling as Ken was quite controversial, many citing that his age concerned them for such a youthful role and that he didn’t quite look the part, but I highly disagree with all that criticism – Ryan was amazing as Ken. He embodied a Barbie-loving, beach-bumming, friend-zoned goofball, and I couldn’t have been happier with his performance. While all of the other Barbies and Kens had their enjoyable moments as well, there were only two other performances by other actors in the film that truly stuck with me after: Will Ferrell’s character, the CEO of Mattel, and Rhea Perlman as Ruth, the original creator of Barbie.
Will’s character stuck with me for the same reason any Will Ferrell performance sticks with a person: his humor. The guy is just hilarious. The scenes with the CEO were just so unhinged and off-the-wall, which really helped lift the movie into a lighter air after some of the darker themes throughout. The most memorable scene of his, in my opinion, was when the CEO and the rest of the board of directors were trying to get through the turnstile with the keycard…if you haven’t seen the movie, at least watch that scene. Please.
Ruth’s character was an unexpected treat for me, having known nothing about Barbie-lore pre-movie. I kind of figured when we met Ruth in the sketchy room of the Mattel building that she was supposed to be some kind of “I’m you in 50 years!” character, or maybe even the human that was playing with Barbie and caused her to come into the Real World. But when it was revealed that Ruth was the original creator of Barbie and they had that beautiful heart-to-heart while Billie Eilish sings “What Was I Made For?” (a breathtaking song, truly), I was incredibly touched.
The overall theme of this movie was the opposite of what I had expected. It was a deep-dive into life as a woman unsure of her place in the world (Alexa, play “A Place in This World” by Taylor Swift, please – but wait for Taylor’s Version.) This movie captured a feeling that 99.9% of women have felt. A sense of uncertainty within oneself – where do I belong? What is my purpose? Who am I aside from those around me? Am I just supposed to sit here and look pretty, or can I accomplish things? Can I make a difference? Who am I without my Ken? Can I even be Barbie without Ken? Who is Barbie?!
The character Gloria, played by America Ferrera, gave a speech that resonated with me so deeply that I was full-on crying in my seat.
“𝘐’𝘮 𝘫𝘶𝘴𝘵 𝘴𝘰 𝘵𝘪𝘳𝘦𝘥 𝘰𝘧 𝘸𝘢𝘵𝘤𝘩𝘪𝘯𝘨 𝘮𝘺𝘴𝘦𝘭𝘧, 𝘢𝘯𝘥 𝘦𝘷𝘦𝘳𝘺 𝘴𝘪𝘯𝘨𝘭𝘦 𝘰𝘵𝘩𝘦𝘳 𝘸𝘰𝘮𝘢𝘯 𝘵𝘪𝘦 𝘩𝘦𝘳𝘴𝘦𝘭𝘧 𝘪𝘯𝘵𝘰 𝘬𝘯𝘰𝘵𝘴, 𝘴𝘰 𝘵𝘩𝘢𝘵 𝘱𝘦𝘰𝘱𝘭𝘦 𝘸𝘪𝘭𝘭 𝘭𝘪𝘬𝘦 𝘶𝘴. 𝘈𝘯𝘥 𝘪𝘧 𝘢𝘭𝘭 𝘰𝘧 𝘵𝘩𝘢𝘵 𝘪𝘴 𝘢𝘭𝘴𝘰 𝘵𝘳𝘶𝘦 𝘧𝘰𝘳 𝘢 𝘥𝘰𝘭𝘭 𝘫𝘶𝘴𝘵 𝘳𝘦𝘱𝘳𝘦𝘴𝘦𝘯𝘵𝘪𝘯𝘨 𝘢 𝘸𝘰𝘮𝘢𝘯, 𝘵𝘩𝘦𝘯 𝘐 𝘥𝘰𝘯’𝘵 𝘦𝘷𝘦𝘯 𝘬𝘯𝘰𝘸.”
Umm, hello? TEARS. And that is just one line out of that gut-wrenching speech. The speech is so moving and powerful that it’s purpose in the movie is to save Barbies that have been brainwashed by Kens. Every woman has felt that feeling of inferiority at one point or another, and this movie is for us (Alexa, also play “The Man” by Taylor Swift, please.)
I genuinely don’t want to go too deep into this one because I think this movie will be best experienced with only a loose understanding of what’s to come. But women: bring tissues. Men: ….watch. Listen! This isn’t an anti-men movie, it’s a movie that shows how women have been made to feel by society. The Barbies just want women to be empowered – to be whatever they want to be; and I personally see it as a very important message.
If you take nothing from the important message, you will still be left with stunning sets, a well-written, hysterical script, and great acting. Honorable mentions in the comedy department go to: Alan (played by Michael Cera), Weird Barbie (played by Kate McKinnon), and of course Beach Ken, (played by Ryan Gosling). The man really just loves the beach.
Go see the Barbie movie. Don’t think of it as just a goofy kids movie – it’s not. Separate the humor from the deeper meaning and theme. Learn – and have fun!
5 out of 5 stars.
Barbie is currently playing in theatres worldwide.