July 21, 2023 / Warner Bros. Pictures Canada
Starring Margot Robbie, Ryan Gosling, Will Ferrell, America Ferrera, Kate McKinnon, Issa Rae, Rhea Perlman, Hari Nef, Alexandra Shipp, Emma Mackey, Connor Swindells, Michael Cera
Directed By: Greta Gerwig
Barbie (Margot Robbie) and Ken (Ryan Gosling) are having the time of their lives in the colorful and seemingly perfect world of Barbie Land. However, when they get a chance to go to the real world, they soon discover the joys and perils of living among humans.
Written By Darren
Rating 5 out of 5
Barbie is a dazzling cinematic experience that is an incredibly fun film from start to finish with a great soundtrack and outstanding performances from the entire cast, but Greta Gerwig has crafted a sophisticated film that will take audiences by surprise and take them on an unforgettable journey that reminds us of the healing and imaginative powers of cinema!
When audiences think of a Barbie doll, there is a preconceived notion of consumerism and an outdated toy that enforces body image stereotypes. And Greta Gerwig knows this, takes aim at it and unleashes a creative vision that not only challenges societal notions of gender and inclusiveness with a cinematic tour de force that is not only one of the year’s best films, but a film that cements her as one of the best working filmmakers today. For months the internet has hyped up Barbie, and the film obliterates all expectations and is destined to be not only the smash hit of the summer, but one of the biggest hits of the entire year! It’s hard to imagine that this film is based on Mattel’s Barbie, as it is a laugh out loud meta critique of society’s perception of the famous doll and consumerism, but in doing so, it taps into beautiful ideas about gender, identity and self-acceptance that results in one of the most moving cinematic experiences of the year.
Barbie has the perfect life in Barbieland with the other Barbies and Kens. But when Barbie faces an existential crisis, she must travel to the human world to set her life back on track.
Words cannot even begin to describe the brilliant story that Gerwig and her husband Noah Baumbach have conjured up with Barbie, as there is truly no other film like it. On one hand, the film is absolutely hilarious with its meta take on society, consumerism with some of the funniest moments of any film this year. The jokes are targeted for adults who grew up with Barbies, while still being fun for younger viewers even though the incredibly suggestive nature of the jokes will go right over their heads. No one is left safe from Gerwig and Baumbach’s aim, including a perfectly timed and targeted joke at Zack Snyder and the toxic online fanbase behind him which will go down as one of the best jokes of the entire year.
But beyond the humour, there is an incredible amount of heart to Gerwig and Baumbach’s story that will move audiences to tears by the end of the film. Tackling the negative perceptions of Barbie dolls head on, audiences are not ready for the beautiful messaging of the story. It’s a feminist approach on the treatment of women in a male dominated world, accepting yourself for the person you are and allowing yourself to become the individual you want to be. It’s deep, insightful and hits every social matter on the noose perfectly without being heavy handed for a second. It's a grace and understanding that Gerwig has shown with her previous films, resulting in a beautiful story that you won’t believe is featured in a Barbie film. Even having seen the trailers, you truly do not know where this story is going beyond the first act, resulting in a captivating experience that will take you on an unforgettable journey full of laughter, joy, sorrow, inclusiveness, and hope unlike any other film this year.
As seen throughout the film’s marketing, the film is a dazzling visual experience. The colour palettes are wonderful in bringing to life the bright and idyllic Barbieland with mesmerizing production design. The costumes are magnificent, with thousands of different costumes for every occasion for the Barbies and Kens, delivering so many iconic film costumes. From Barbie’s blowout party dress, Ken’s pastel green and pink beach shirt and shorts, to Allan’s colourful shirt, you will instantly fall in love with the costumes. Many of them draw inspiration from outfits worn by real Barbie and Ken dolls, paying homage to the toys, easily making it the favourite for best costume design at the Oscars next year.
The film’s soundtrack is truly the soundtrack of the summer, featuring original songs from some of the biggest names in the music industry today and timeless classics. Dua Lipa’s “Dance the Night” is the highlight of the original songs, perfectly capturing the excitement of the blowout party which is an instantly iconic sequence of the film. Billie Eilish’s “What Was I Made For?” captures the themes of Gerwig and Baumbach’s story with a haunting beauty that will help move audiences to tears as its use in the final minutes of the film is nothing short of perfect. Either of these songs could be a shoe in for a nomination for Best Original Song at the Oscars… but there is also “I’m Just Ken” performance by Ryan Gosling. It’s an absolutely hilarious song, capturing Ken’s character arc over the film that will have audiences laughing and feeling bad for Ken during a show stopping number that is sure to be a hit with audiences that seems like the forerunner for Best Original Song of all the songs in the film.
Apart from Oppenheimer, Barbie has the biggest and most star studded cast of the year with the likes of Helen Mirren, Emma Mackey, Will Ferrell, Simu Liu, John Cena, Michael Cera, Kate McKinnon, America Ferrera and Alexandra Shipp to name a few. Ferrera has a truly spectacular monologue that leads into the film’s third act that is beautiful, timely and powerful that audiences won’t soon forget. Cera is a ton of fun as Allan, who is just Allan, utilizing his dry sense of humour perfectly. Issa Rae delivers lots of great laughs as President Barbie, Mirren’s narration is pitch perfect, and I had a blast with Connor Swindells as Aaron, the Mattel intern who is roped into ensuring Barbie does not disrupt the human world, with his boyish naiveness and desperation to fit in with the Mattel executives. And while she only has two scenes, Rhea Perlman delivers an unforgettable supporting performance as Ruth and truly brings Barbie’s journey of self-discovery full circle.
There has truly never been a more perfect casting for a film than Margot Robbie as Barbie and Ryan Gosling as Ken. Robbie is absolutely radiant as the iconic doll, bringing an unmatched elegance, sweetness and strength to her character that simultaneously makes her both the Barbie you picture in your head and a fierce heroine for a modern generation. As with all of her performances, Robbie is brilliant from start to finish, never missing a comedic beat and fully reveling in the childlike nature of her character, while bringing a depth and emotional honesty to Barbie’s beautiful journey over the course of the film. Gosling is an absolute scene stealer as Ken, bringing what can only be defined as kenergy to the role. Every second he is on screen, Gosling is in his element as this over the top character with a crippling insecurity about his reason for existing that is hidden underneath his male bravado. With every performance, Gosling has proven himself an outstanding actor, but his turn as Ken will be one of the roles that audiences will never forget for him. As a duo, Robbie and Gosling have a natural chemistry that brings to life this picture perfect couple with a comedic timing that plays into the themes that Gerwig and Baumbach unpack in their screenplay. Both of them are outstanding and help deliver a home run of a film that could easily launch either of them into the awards race this year for their performances.
And none of this is possible without Gerwig’s phenomenal direction. Easily cracking the blockbuster genre with a film that never for a second loses the storytelling that Gerwig championed in her previous two films, she never misses a step for a minute and delivers one of the best directed films of the year. Each scene is crafted with passion and an attention to detail while juggling an enormous amount of intellectual property, ensuring that there is never a second of the film that is not an enthralling experience that never loses focus of the messaging of the story.
There truly aren’t words to describe the cinematic experience that is Barbie other than to call it Ken-tastic, as Greta Gerwig and Noah Baumbach have conjured up a dazzling, self-aware comedy and absolutely moving film that audiences are going to love. From outstanding direction from Greta Gerwig, an unforgettable, hilarious and deeply moving screenplay from Gerwig and Noah Baumbach that builds a honest story about gender, society and consumerism, brought to life by one of the most star studded casts of the year led by phenomenal performances from Margot Robbie and Ryan Gosling as Barbie and Ken, Barbie is nothing short of a cinematic masterpiece that is destined to become a true classic.