© Warner Bros. Entertainment GmbH

U.S.A./U.K. 2023

Opening 20 Jul 2023

Directed by: Greta Gerwig
Writing credits: Greta Gerwig, Noah Baumbach
Principal actors: Margot Robbie, Issa Rae, Kate McKinnon, Alexandra Shipp, Emma Mackey

Leave it to Greta Gerwig, indie cinema’s darling, to make everyone fall in love with Barbie, not just the ones who played with her as children.

Her version of Barbieland is unapologetically pink and wonderfully feminist. In fact, in Barbieland, women rule (President Barbie, Physicist Barbie, Doctor Barbie, to name a few). Sure, the Kens are around but they don’t seem to do much, except patrol Barbieland’s pristine beaches with their shirts off and chiseled abs on display. In fact, the sole purpose of Stereotypical Ken (Ryan Gosling) is to “beach.” No, not lifeguard, but “beach.”

In Gerwig’s Barbieland, Barbies are the ones who do the real work. And while every day is a perfect day in Barbieland, everything starts to crumble when Stereotypical Barbie (played to perfection by Margot Robbie) starts to have some existential thoughts (death, anyone?). She ends up seeking answers from Weird Barbie (Kate McKinnon), who tells her the only way to rectify this is to travel into the “Real World” and meet her “human” owner, Gloria (played by America Ferrera), who just so happens to work at Mattel, is the mother of an angsty pre-teen Sasha who refuses to play with Barbie, and calls the Mattel CEO (Will Ferrell) her boss.

Once word gets out to the all-male executive board of Mattel that Barbie (and Ken) have entered modern-day Los Angeles and are questioning their existence, all hell breaks loose to get, quite literally, Stereotypical Barbie back into her box. Stereotypical Ken? According to Mattel’s CEO, no one really cares about him. Apropos.

Perhaps one of the best moments of the film is Stereotypical Ken realizing that in the real world, men actually “rule.” He is fascinated by all things patriarchy and vows to bring this back to Barbieland, which he does with pure comic gold. Barbieland becomes incredibly masculine, where suddenly the roles are reversed, and all the Barbies are now happy to be in total submission of their Kens.

Without giving too much away, Stereotypical Barbie travels back to Barbieland with Gloria and Sasha to witness the deterioration of their matriarchy and decide to concoct a plan to restore it to its original pink perfection. With narration by Helen Mirren, which only lends to its storybook quality, Barbie is a film that embraces the essence of Barbie's timeless charm while telling a heartwarming tale that inspires and entertains. (Erin Huebscher)

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