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Saturday, September 30, 2023
September 30 , 2023

REVIEW: “Barbie” movie shows life in plastic is not so fantastic

CNN reporter Abby Phillip and "Barbie" director Greta Gerwig speak at a movie reception hosted by the British Embassy and Warner Bros.
CNN reporter Abby Phillip and "Barbie" director Greta Gerwig speak at a movie reception hosted by the British Embassy and Warner Bros on July 17, 2023. Photo credit: Wikimedia Commons & UKinUSA

Laughter, the smell of popcorn and a sea of pink: these are the cornerstones of every “Barbie” screening in the last two weeks. Months of promotion led to packed theaters on the weekend of July 21, all thanks to the same-day release of “Barbie” and “Oppenheimer” known as Barbenheimer.

“Barbie” lives up to the hype and feels like an instant classic. It’s funny, self-aware and heartfelt — a film to watch with the whole family, though a few jokes may fly over a 10-year-old’s head.

Directed by up-and-coming director Greta Gerwig, this summer blockbuster stars Margot Robbie as the titular character, Ryan Gosling as her boyfriend Ken and a large, star-studded ensemble cast as various versions of the Barbie and Ken dolls.

Gerwig takes influence from both “The Truman Show” and “The Wizard of Oz,” films that explore the implications of a “fake” and “real” world and what it means to be a real person. Both the doll and human characters struggle with their identities and sense of self.

The film notably adheres to its famous aesthetic which has directly contributed to the excitement surrounding it. The neon pink, hyper-feminine “Barbie” world is literally a dream come true, especially if you enjoyed the dolls as a child.

The Barbie dreamhouse has a slide that goes down to the pool and a closet that changes your clothes for you, an image reminiscent of “Clueless.” With a meticulous, exuberant set design, the “Barbie” movie spent every dollar making this a visually-stunning film.

Tonally, it lands firmly in comedy and enjoys its own campiness and cheesiness, but the entire cast deftly brings an amount of sincerity to their roles that allows them to shine and the film’s message to land.

Landing in the comedy genre, jokes fill up a majority of the runtime. From the opening scene parody of “2001: A Space Odyssey” to the final line of the film, laughter filled all corners of the theater. The final line was particularly memorable and cheeky in the best way possible.

Watching this film, I understood that people would criticize the subject matter and that it would fall victim to the current political climate. Maybe some of the jokes wouldn’t land for other demographics than I, a 20-year-old-girl who grew up playing with Barbie dolls.

The success of “Barbie” has made it clear that films seemingly made for girls are important for everyone to watch, regardless of gender. Gerwig delivers a film that is filled with femininity and keeps you guessing every step of the way.

Rating: 4.25/5

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