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BARBIE (2023)

Release Date: 07/21/23 [Cinemas]
Genre: Adventure. Comedy. Fantasy.

Studio: Warner Bros. 

"Barbie suffers a crisis that leads her to question her world and her existence." 


WARNING: Spoilers Ahead


Apologies in advance to every movie that has or will come out this year. Greta Gerwig’s Barbie takes my gold (or should I say pink) medal for 2023. And yes, I've seen the other one.


Barbie (Margot Robbie) lives in the perfect utopia of Barbies and Kens. She has suddenly found herself with poor self esteem and an increasing sense of dread. In order to figure out how to stop it she visits “Weird” Barbie (Kate McKinnon), a wise doll who has seen a lot in her day, and instructs her to visit the real world in order to find the little girl playing with her, seemingly causing this tilt. In what she sets out to be a solo trip, Ken (Ryan Gosling) crashes it and they experience The Real World for the first time together. What they discover about reality affects them each in different ways - and affected me way more than I ever imagined. 


Barbie is a knock-out visually, physically, mentally, and emotionally. The cinematography, production and costume design is absolutely chef's kiss. But what really takes it home is the story. As much as the comedy is present, it is deeply self aware, going as far as Robbie’s Barbie self proclaiming herself as “Stereotypical Barbie” which she takes pride in. The movie makes nod after nod to Barbies that actually existed all the way through the credits. Something I truly loved, yet also am fully aware that Mattel also probably loved. Here’s a good time to mention that Will Ferrell was perfect as the Mattel CEO, channeling a little bit of Buddy the Elf and President Business.


All the main characters had their own special spotlight. America Ferrera perfects the Gerwig monologue, Issa Rae’s President Barbie has (to me) the best line/delivery, and even Ken gets a beautiful arc. It felt so evenly concluded that I was prepared for it to wrap up until… of course, the Billie Eilish song. Oh, how I should have known better. Tied to the most heart wrenching, gut flipping moment. The moment of the adventure where the main character has to make a choice, THE choice. And we are left in puddles on the popcorn stuck floor. I won’t even talk about my absolute favorite part that happens even earlier on, I may start crying again. 


For me, a film has never encapsulated girlhood in a way that feels extremely forgiving to the viewer, as if it’s telling us to be kinder to ourselves. It’s okay to like dolls. And pink. And boy bands. And pop music for fucks sake! I don’t know how else to explain it. But even though the film is heavily doused in femininity, it still sets out to inspire everyone to search for their own identity. 


If you were like me and played with dolls as a child, you were probably mocked at some point. Most things associated with little girls are often seen as frivolous, especially Barbie and other dolls alike. They briefly touch on this in the film, but it’s more so showing the characters growing out of Barbie, not so much the film making fun of the characters for playing with them. I appreciated the honest awareness of the culture surrounding the brand, negative and positive, while still celebrating what the message and purpose has always been since Ruth Handler’s first doll. This movie is so special to so many people already, it will without a doubt be one of the most impactful to this decade. 


In a terribly crucial time when studio heads are actively working to erase the human connection within various works of media, Barbie could not have come at a more appropriate and meaningful time to remind us why we always have and always will need them. 

And now for a personal note about Midge, my favorite Barbie doll: Portrayed in the movie by the amazing Emerald Fennell, Midge was the redheaded best friend of Barbie released in 1963. She was designed with a softer look to counter the ever growing criticism that Barbie’s sleek grown adult likeness was too mature for little girls. Midge had many releases, but is most known for the infamous 2003 pregnant Midge with a detachable tummy and baby. I begged and pleaded for this specific doll. I thought it was so cool there was a pregnant Barbie. However, the public decided this Midge was too mature for little girls after all. I’ll never forget seeing her shredded to pieces on the news for weeks. This is extremely interesting when you think about the very first scene of the film where Helen Mirren talks about how little girls only had BABY DOLLS to play with to prepare for their inevitable role of motherhood. The public’s perception of Barbie is forever contradicting itself. I think the inclusion of Midge was another great example of the film winking that maybe it’s us who were the problem all along, not the man-made dolls. Any-hoo… go see Barbie

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