‘Barbie’ Review: “Iconic, Innovative, & Intellectual”
People knew very few plot details before walking into the theater to see Barbie. The trailers recycled similar scenes of bright, bubbly pink-splattered production design that brought millions back to their childhoods of playing their own unique Barbie dolls. However, upon seeing the entire film, it’s clear director Greta Gerwig has put together a laugh-out-loud social commentary that hits closer to home than anyone could have expected. It may succeed at being a brand exercise, but that is nothing compared to its ability to say something grand and human.
The cast of Barbie is by far the strongest component of this feature. Margot Robbie had to have been a no-brainer given her popularity thanks to memorable recent turns in Babylon and The Suicide Squad. Pair impeccable comedic timing with equally remarkable dramatic chops, Robbie has solidified her place as an invaluable leading actor. There are a few key moments where the viewer is seeing the plot take place through the eyes of Robbie’s “stereotypical” Barbie and she proves that she can command the screen with ease. Then we have the real world element, beautifully personified by America Ferrera who delivers a firey description of the lofty expectations lobbed at women. It will not be a surprise to see a sort of career surge from her coming off the heels of this picture.
However, while Robbie is the film’s most vital performer, her co-star Ryan Gosling is the performer who shines the brightest. Gosling’s Ken is set loose upon the real world and makes the switch from loveable Ken to a man desperate for the slightest bit of control. While the plot turns the notion of what it means to be Ken on its head about halfway through, there’s a constant unseriousness that surrounds the gaggle of Kens as they play their roles to perfection. While not a Ken per se, Michael Cera’s Allan is a clear standout in the film as he offers a unique perspective throughout the chaos.
Aside from the outstanding whimsical performances from the cast, the theme of empowerment offers an inspiring tale many may not have expected to land as impactfully as it did. The film’s humor is refreshingly witty but the specific themes of the daily plights of women were such a strong cinematic experience. The impossibility of perfection in a world where it is expected creates a sharp existential conversation among the Barbies that can easily be translated to the real world. Sitting in a theater filled with young women also created this ambiance where one could tell it was landing and hitting all the right notes. To walk out of the Barbie without some semblance of understanding and empathy or even resonation with the effects of the patriarchy on women, gender equality, and the freedom of expressing oneself wholly and truly and having an appreciation for that is damn near impossible
Greta Gerwig stands head and shoulders among her peers as one of the most poignant and capable filmmakers of her generation. She creates a visual spectacle and offers more laughs than a viewer can quickly recover from while also emitting a message that will inspire and motivate anyone willing to listen to it. It’s a miracle a film like Barbie exists. Even more so it’s a lasting impression of allowing a director to complete their vision to great success with Barbie already making history all over the world.
Once the layers of brightly colored sets, fun poppy soundtracks, and the facade of perfection is peeled back, the many layers of Barbie make it undeniably one of the most important films in recent memory. From the innovative techniques to the powerhouse marketing campaign, you will be hard-pressed to go anywhere or talk to anyone without hearing the praises of this film sung for years to come. – Christian Hubbard
Barbie is in theaters now!