Barbie Movie Poster
Taxi Driver (1976) Poster uploaded to by DrChram

As mentioned in my Oppenheimer review, Barbie is one half of the equation that drew millions to the theater this past weekend. It has been a phenomenal experience to see everybody on the street or at work or online talking about one or both of these movies. Getting butts in seats has been such a challenge lately. But when studios give us “fresh” movies that aren’t sequels or reboots, the box office earnings reflect that. 

That’s not to say there haven’t already been a million attempts at making Barbie movies or WWII biopics. They’ve both been done to death. But the way that these specific two were made makes them the exception. There’s no escaping that Barbie is a gigantic product placement movie. Mattel has a real presence, and Chevy is all over this sucker, but it’s not just a commercial like Transformers.

Greta Gerwig pulls the very best out of co-leads Margot Robbie and Ryan Gosling with incredibly well-written characters and meaningful dialogue. Robbie is the perfect “stereotypical Barbie” and proves yet again that she is not just another pretty face. The woman can act and continues to gift us with stellar performances. Despite the stellar leads and excellent supporting cast, the story kinda loses some steam towards the end of the third act. But everything leading up to it is phenomenal. 

…it’s not a commercial…

The popular discourse surrounding this movie might convince you that it’s all “rah rah down with the patriarchy all men are bad”. However, that couldn’t be further from the truth. Gerwig and Co. make sure to not only lift up women of all shapes, sizes, origins, and colors but to also free men from potential self-imposed burdens. America Ferrera’s speech toward the end of the movie really drove that point home. This is a movie about positivity and growth, not blaming or forcing change. 

I have sisters, my mom has gone back to school twice in my lifetime, and my soon-to-be wife has her master’s degree. I work with a lot of brilliant women at work at a very male-dominated company. The types of things that America Ferrera’s character spoke about are so very true. I see them all the time. Even though I can’t share the experience, I know they’re a constant for most women. 

Listening to Gerwig’s words come out of Ferrera’s mouth really resonated with me. Hearing the constant contradictions spelled out in such a manner was really impactful. It helped me to empathize with the women in my life a little bit better. Sure it’s a movie about a toy and they do silly things, but the heart and motivation behind it is very real. I give massive props to Greta for managing to pull off something so genuine despite being centered around something so consumeristic and fake. 

Gosling…practically steals the show…

It’s difficult to create a heartfelt message but to balance it out so perfectly with quality comedy and storytelling is another thing entirely. For example, consider this short exchange between Ryan Gosling’s Ken and another Ken. 

Ken- if you say “Lookout, Ken at 4 o’clock!” how am I going to know who you’re talking about?

Ryan Gosling Ken – Because my dudes, we attack at 10

That might be the funniest thing I’ve heard all year. It’s so small and insignificant but it’s written so smoothly and delivered so matter-of-factly that it is impossible not to laugh. Gosling nails this delivery and every other line and practically steals the show right out from under Margot Robbie. The irony of that is not lost on me, believe you me. 

Just to finish up all my talking points from my notes I want to talk about the nonstory elements. The set design is so freaking vibrant and colorful. It felt like I walked into the toy aisle at Target or something. There’s just an explosion of pink and plastic in every scene that looked pristine, almost like it came right out of a box on the shelf. The CGI clouds and action marks are adorable and the music is absolutely bumping. I would listen to this soundtrack on a road trip or cleaning the house. That’s a real compliment. 

Barbie is an exceptionally heartfelt and hilarious movie. Despite the consumerist intellectual property that props up the story, Greta Gerwig and her stellar cast created something genuine. It is all about the right kind of empowerment and doesn’t drag anybody down to do it. We must protect Greta Gerwig at all costs and Hollywood needs to give her the license to make whatever the hell she wants. 

Score: 97/100

Directed by: Greta Gerwig

Released: 2023

Studio: Warner Bros. 

Starring: Margot Robbie, Ryan Gosling, Simu Liu, Will Ferrell

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