Auteur filmmaker Greta Gerwig, who’s most known for writing/directing ‘Lady Bird’ and the 2019 adaptation of ‘Little Women,’ presents us with her existential spectacle- ‘Barbie’- based on the popular Mattel toy line. This film, however, is by no means a hollow commercial endeavor.
‘Barbie’ is a beautiful and unapologetic feminist meditation on identity and existence. Margo Robbie does a fantastic job playing the titular character. Her character is dubbed Stereotypical Barbie and the film primarily focuses on her journey to process complex human emotions for the first time, particularly as a women experiencing the real world patriarchal society for the first time. She plays the character fairly straight while Ryan Gosling, who plays her counterpart, Ken, chews his scenes with his sympathetic albeit naïve surfer dude persona.
The production design for ‘Barbie’ is sublime. Every faction of the art department does a fantastic job incorporating all things Barbie into the surreal (and very pink) aesthetic. The sets and all the props feel like the toys were blown up to life size. The art department imbues toy elements into aspects of very real life things as well, which also ties into the films themes about superficiality embedded in society.
The writing for Barbie is zippy, campy, meta, and fun which are all counter balanced with moments of existential self-awareness, topical drama, and genuine human emotions. Greta Gerwig clearly loves ‘Barbie.’ She portrays Barbie and her whole world with all the wonderment of how she viewed it growing up, but also addresses the problematic aspects of the toy.
‘Barbie’ is a blast. It’s both fun and deeply moving. I just hope studios learns the right lesson from why this film works and how to adapt an IP that has a lot of history and lore (Spoiler alert, they won’t).
MY STAR RATING 4/5 STARS
Browse The Brown Deer Public Library's collection of all things Barbie in media available to check out.