‘Barbie’ (2023) Movie Review

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On Aug. 21, the “Barbie” movie was released worldwide, allowing viewers to step into the world of “Barbie Land” for the very first time. The film stars many big Hollywood names including Margot Robbie as stereotypical Barbie, Ryan Gosling as stereotypical Ken, America Ferrera as Gloria, Ariana Greenblatt as Sasha and Will Ferrell as The CEO of Mattel. Written and directed by Greta Gerwig, the movie follows Robbie as Barbie on an adventure into the real world after her reality is flipped upside-down and things are no longer as magical and pink. Viewers watch as she discovers what it means to be human in a world where women are not the center of everything—Where males are the ruling gender. We see Barbie deal with the harsh realities of the patriarchy. I believe “Barbie” is captivating, nostalgic, heartbreaking and showcases a viewpoint I’ve rarely seen on the big screen. 

As viewers first enter the world of Barbie where all things are pink and fantastical, the set and music almost instantly took me back to childhood. Barbies float from place to place, there is no running water in the “Dream House” and the food is inedible (which really hammered home the idea of the imaginary world of Barbie Land). The Barbie movie was absolutely nothing like I imagined it to be, but that is what set it apart from any of the previous Barbie movies, albeit the lack of animation, in my opinion.

One thing for sure, to me, is that this Barbie movie has earned its PG-13 rating. Although the movie is absolutely hilarious, I believe that did not stop Gerwig from tackling some very heavy and real feelings and themes that many women across the world have felt. Not even 10 minutes into the movie, Robbie’s Barbie is expressing her irrepressible thoughts of death. To solve this, Barbie is transported to the human world in order to search for the person playing with her. (Humans who play with Barbies in the real world unknowingly control the dolls in Barbie Land.) Barbie believes the human is influencing her to have these depressing thoughts and wants to put things right in both their minds. As the movie continues, we see Barbie deal with the overt over-sexualization women face, anxiety and depression. I think it was relieving to see that even as a fictional character Barbie was not immune to the crippling realities that life burdens us all with from time to time. Meanwhile, Ken discovers the patriarchy and decides to introduce the concept to Barbie Land.

I believe the movie nails the concept of showing that misogyny and the patriarchy do not work for any society, as it reverses the roles people are accustomed to seeing men take in society and giving them to the Barbies (and having the Kens act as practically arm candy). When the roles are switched in Barbie Land from their original state, it is an overall bleak scene. Barbies who were once doctors, presidents and writers are now acting in a subservient role, tending to the Kens every need. After everything is returned to normalcy, there are two gut-wrenching monologues that moved me to tears. 

All-in-all, I would recommend this movie to any man or woman I know, but I think the most important thing a viewer could do is go into the movie with an open mind and heart. To me, the movie is a whirlwind of emotions. In my opinion, Grewig has created a beautiful film that will hopefully positively influence generations to come. This movie really made me think about not only what I want for myself in life, but also what I want in a future partner. The message of the movie, “It’s Barbie, and it’s Ken” portrays the importance of both being able to stand alone, is what really made the film quickly skyrocket to one of my favorite movies of all time.

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