BARBIE – A Review by Jenn Rohm
Greta Gerwig has directed and co-written with Noah Baumbach a story I didn’t realize I was waiting for. Growing up I used my imagination and played with dolls. One of which told me I could be anything I wanted to be including Astronaut, Doctor, or even President of the United States. Now many years past those days apparently the doll has more to teach with this summer release of Barbie.
Starting with a slightly familiar opening, the change for girls playing with baby dolls and pretending to be a mom one day is pushed aside with the introduction of a blond-haired, blue-eyed, swimsuit-wearing doll that takes care of herself. We are taken to Barbieland with endless opportunities and options available to all Barbie and her girlfriends. As we go through a great day with “Stereotypical Barbie” (Margo Robbie) greetings of “Hello Barbie” abound. Toward the end of the day, she starts to ask some questions that are not standard for Barbieland. Facing some rather drastic changes she goes to “Weird Barbie” (Kate McKinnon) for assistance. This sets “Stereotypical Barbie” off on her adventure. She heads to the country of California (according to the map and story) only to learn what she thought was happening in the real world isn’t. Oh, and Ken is there ready to beach while looking for approval from Barbie.
Gerwig and Baumbach provided a script that allowed the cast to not take itself so seriously that the pink shine went away. One of my favorites is a line from the narrator when Robbie’s Barbie is upset. (You will have to see the movie to hear for yourself.) It was also not so campy that the important topics being presented got lost.
The movie brought back so many childhood memories. Many of these were due to the talent of the Art Decoration, Set Decoration, Costume Design, Makeup, and Art Departments. The care given to details such as a shower that sounds like running water, yet no water is present, to a closet that is a boxed outfit with accessories is a large part of what has me in love with this movie.
The cast brought all the various versions of Barbie, Ken, and Friends to life. We have Midge and her 2002 pregnancy scandal. (A removable baby bump with a baby inside did not go over well with the public.) Mentions of Skipper and babysitting antics are in the script. We also have one Allan/Alan, who isn’t with Midge in the film, but according to the product line, they were married in the 90s.
The film has a few things that did disappoint such as a Ken serenade that had me checking how long it ran and some of the dance sequences that could have been shorter. The history of Barbie herself is touched on, but pieces of the story are missing.
This is a movie for an older audience. It is not a G-rated friendly for all Barbie adventure that will keep younger audiences’ attention. There are deeper topics including patriarchy, consumerism, impossible societal standards, self-image, and self-worth being represented. You do not have to be a Barbie fan or have played with Barbie to get something out of this film.
I could go on, but I would rather you have time to go see the film for yourself. As for me, I will be watching this film many more times and buying a copy for home as soon as I can. Now where are my Golden Dream and Sun Lovin Barbie?
Director: Greta Gerwig
Written By: Greta Gerwig, Noah Baumbach
Cast: Margot Robbie, Ariana Greenblatt, Kingsley Ben-Adir, Ryan Gosling, Will Ferrell, Kate McKinnon, America Ferrera
MPAA Rating: PG-13 for suggestive references and brief language
Genres: Adventure, Comedy, Fantasy, Romance
Selig Rating: 5 stars
Runtime: 1h 54m
Release Date: July 21, 2023
Movie Site: Barbie Official Movie Site
Trailer: Barbie Official Trailer
The Selig Rating Scale:
5 Stars – Excellent movie/show, well worth the time and price.
4 Stars – Good movie/show
3 Stars – OK movie/show
2 Stars – Well there was nothing else . . .
1 Star – Total waste of time.