July 28, 2023
Barbie review: A must-watch, the allegedly ‘anti-men’ pink extravaganza will make you cry
After years of waiting and expectations building, Barbie finally hit theatres across the globe. A definite winner of the ‘Barbenheimer’ box office battle and already one of the biggest movies of the year.
I expected to be entertained, to laugh, to have fun and be astonished by the production, graphics and colour scheme. But what I didn’t expect was my own tears.
The film is a pink, campy extravaganza that keeps you captivated throughout the whole delightful and empowering ride. Margot Robbie turns Barbie from a two-dimensional shiksa in pink into a powerful and independent woman, who goes on a life-changing journey, bringing us along on the way. The cast makes it a story to remember as Ryan Gosling (Ken) goes all out, stealing the show and our hearts every time he’s on screen.
The film is as fun as it looks, wielding its message skillfully in a hysterically funny and heartfelt way. Barbie herself goes on a journey of self-discovery including the realisation of what it is to be a woman in the modern world. Barbie comes from ‘Barbie Land’ – a pink-filled, women-run world, where everyday is the “best day ever”.
Our Barbie (Robbie) – a stereotypical Barbie, the most popular one in her world, starts experiencing an existential crisis. To find her way out of it she must travel to the ‘real world’, to meet with the girl playing with her and who has displaced her anxieties onto the doll.
Travelling to our reality with Ken, who is unable to be separated from Barbie due to his co-dependent existence on her attention and acknowledgement, they both then discover the truth about the real world. The world is ‘still dominated by men’ and the Barbies have not helped to solve all the problems by levelling the playing field.
The duo then go on two separate journeys – Ken discovers the power of being a man, and Barbie learns the hardships women deal with on a daily basis.
Director Greta Gerwig deserves all the awards. She reinvented Barbie by making her into a friend again, turning her from someone to be jealous of into someone who shares the same problems and hardships we do.
Greta has a history of making life-changing, coming-of-age movies for women no matter their age. Lady Bird, her solo directorial debut, and Little Women, her second movie, both dive into themes of personal growth, identity and relationships.
And that‘s what Barbie is about, it’s a coming-of-age story in a bright pink package with feminism 101 lessons packed inside it.
Some people, mostly men, branded the film as ‘anti-men’ propaganda, which I personally find a bit hilarious. The picture speaks out against the patriarchy and the modern ‘build’ of our world, highlighting how all people (including men) suffer from the expectations the patriarchy puts on us.
The film also highlights topics such as the standards of beauty. One of the most memorable scenes from me was when Barbie interacted with an old lady at a bus stop after arriving in the real world. Both women stare at each other and Barbie calls the lady “beautiful”, and she already knows it.
This tear-jerking scene hit me hard because in the modern world being old is one of the things that is fought against with a passion. So many treatments, creams, and pills exist for the sole reason of erasing every trace of our age. And still this perfect doll, with a perfect body and a perfect face gives a genuine compliment to this older lady, because age doesn’t decrease the beauty and the lady at the bus stop knows it well, while so many of us overlook it.
The film is crammed with amazing detail and references, with its teaser featuring a direct parody of a scene in Stanley Kubrick’s 2001: Space Odyssey. The opening sequence references the ‘Dawn of Men’ with a feminist twist, illustrating how Barbie revolutionised young girls’ toys by “being a woman and a friend, not a baby to take care of.”
A lot of detail was also given to the real-life Barbie toys manufactured by Mattel, such as the inclusion of Tanner – Barbie’s dog, who was himself somewhat of a revolution because he could eat and poop, making him one of the most nostalgic and memorable additions to Mattel toys.
Michael Cera took on the role of Allan – Ken’s best friend, a doll that was discontinued only after two years because of the lack of popularity, which clearly won’t be the case anymore after the performance delivered by Cera, and there’s only one of Allan.
A must-watch for everyone, for young and for old, for women and for men. It’s a beautiful story with a powerful message which will leave you thinking about your own experiences and understanding of the patriarchy and how it in fact isn’t about horses, as Ken had previously and oddly thought for the most part of the film.