By Megan Bianco
During the whole, epic promotion for Greta Gerwig’s much-anticipated Barbie, inspired by the legendary toy doll, I kept thinking: “Warner Bros. must have some serious faith in this comedy for them to go all-out with their marketing budget.”
If the packed screening rooms and parking lots of movie theaters the past two weeks are anything to go by, the studio shouldn’t have anything to worry about. In fact, most viewers probably won’t have anything to worry about, if they don’t think too hard about the plot, themes and message of the new comedy.
After all, it’s Barbie! The personification of fun, beauty, brains and success. It would be pretty hard to fail making a movie about such a childhood icon.
In this Barbie movie, Barbie (Margot Robbie) is suddenly hit with an existential crisis that she can’t shake. The more it dwells on her, the more she realizes how flawed she truly is.
“Weird Barbie” (Kate McKinnon) gives her an ultimatum of leaving the perfection of Barbieland for the real world to find which girl playing with a Barbie doll is influencing her mood swing.
Barbie’s would-be, himbo suitor Ken (Ryan Gosling) tags along because of his own desperation to be involved with her romantically.
Barbie succeeds on virtually all technical levels. It’s a comedy with funny jokes and gags. The set design and costumes are effective eye candy. The concept and direction eclipse what Olivia Wilde previously attempted with her ill-fated Don’t Worry, Darling (2022).
The cast members are having a blast with the material, especially Gosling. Will Ferrell’s presence, though redundant, is spiritually appropriate to his roles in Jon Favreau’s Elf (2003) and Phil Lord and Chris Miller’s The Lego Movie (2014).
There are plenty of clever references for pop culture junkies, particularly on ’90s culture. The catchy soundtrack is filled with stars including Cyndi Lauper, Indigo Girls, Spice Girls, Dua Lipa, Lizzo, Charli XCX and Billie Eilish.
Maybe it’s my age or the fact that I watch a ton of movies, but I didn’t think the gender politics or commentary was fresh and, if anything, felt dated.
As an older millennial, much like Gerwig, who grew up when Amy Heckerling’s Clueless (1995) and Robert Luketic’s Legally Blonde (2001) were initially released, I feel that if Barbie had been made 20 years ago, the execution would have been exactly the same.
Nevertheless, Gerwig and Co. must be doing something right to have made the biggest movie in the world.