It’s Barbie Week at The Daily Beast’s Obsessed, celebrating the doll’s pop-culture history, our favorite Barbie memories, and a certain big movie. Read all our coverage here!
With all the chatter about the Barbie film for the past four years, the most pressing question is whether Greta Gerwig’s film could surpass the insurmountable hype surrounding it. There was an influx of candid set photos, multiple trailers and pre-release clips, and rapidly popular memes that quickly created a level of fatigue as ubiquitous as the Barbie poster generator. Barbie There was a sensation long before we were close enough to see the radiant pink glow on the July 21st release date ahead of us. Surely, no matter how good the movie was, it couldn’t quite live up to that amount of hype.
But to settle for tempered expectations that is just the way Barbie. Barbie can be a doctor, a CEO, a politician, and even a mermaid. The sky is the limit for Barbie-scratch that; she will be an astronaut and also against that restriction. With all these accomplishments under Barbie’s belt, who better to bring her story to the big screen than Gerwig? In her career as a writer and director, Gerwig has created unique, exceptional films that brilliantly assess the subtleties of women. No one is so adept at making the ultra-specific feel universal.
So, of course, in Gerwig’s capable hands, a movie about one of the most popular toys of all time is not even expected. Barbie It is her mainstream masterpiece, a wonderful dream that will touch the souls of all who see it, even if they have never picked up a doll.
For those viewers less familiar with Barbie’s legacy, the film opens with a crash course in the doll’s history. That 2001: A Space Odyssey the reference from the first teaser trailer is less funny in the film itself, when it introduces the viewer to a monolithic version of the toy, before we dive into the technicolor world of Barbieland. This is where Barbie (Margot Robbie) and all her friends – Barbie, Barbie, Barbie, and of course Barbie – live, living every wonderful day in each other’s company. For every Barbie, there is Ken, trying to sweep Barbie off her factory-made raised legs.
Robbie plays Stereotypical Barbie, a simple but undeniably beautiful doll that comes without a prepackaged career path, allowing the person who plays with her to use their imagination. Barbie (Ryan Gosling), whose only real goal in life (besides getting Barbie to fall for him) deserves a generic Ken, simply put. Ken loves the beach almost as much as he loves unbuttoning his button-up shirts, and he’s extremely good at both.
Most of the dolls in Barbieland may have the same name – although we can’t forget Allan (Michael Cera) and Midge (Emerald Fennell), two retired toys who still hang with the Barbies and Kens – but there they are all unique. Barbieland is so different from our real world, but no one ever notices it. There is no tokenism here; Barbieland is just a perfect utopia, where Barbie can be every woman. After all, as the film winkingly points out in that opening montage about Barbie’s background, the prevalence of different types of Barbies means that all feminism and equal rights disputes are settled!
There’s just one problem: Barbie has uncontrollable thoughts about death. OK, two problems: She’s also getting cellulite. Make that three: Her legs are gone – gasp!apartment. Barbie soon discovers that the sudden fear of her own death is somehow connected to the human world, where every girl who plays with her ends up in the world. “She can’t be sad,” Barbie protests. “We decided everything in the Real World.” The screenplay, which Gerwig co-wrote with her husband and creative partner Noah Baumbach, delicately pokes fun at Barbie’s unintended outbursts of naivete, making her inevitable trip to the Real World to save herself from total dysfunction all the more powerful. .
Gerwig and Baumbach’s delightfully dry wit is everywhere, and with so much to look at in the magical surroundings of Barbieland, it’s easy to miss these little jabs at how women are expected to operate in a man’s world. “I would never wear heels if my feet were shaped like this,” Barbie says of her new flats as she walks around in a pair of pumps. A caustic line like that might have elicited a lot of sighs and eye rolls, had it been written by anyone other than Baumbach and Gerwig. But their scripts have irony masterfully coated with a thick layer of sincerity. Three nods to a kaleidoscopic list of cinematic references (they have the script The Red Shoes-meet-The Truman Showthrough a Barbie-fied lens) and Robbie’s truly versatile performance, BarbieThe fine cultural commentary works in both small doses and large swings.
As Barbie and Ken (who tag along on the trip) enter the chaos of the Real World, they are both struck by their fundamental differences. The traditional gender appearance of these two famous characters – a main complaint of many of the people who have drawn Barbie since the Barbie doll debuted in 1959 – has a direct impact on how people treat them. Gerwig and Baumbach’s disparity of patriarchy and everyday misogyny is both poignant and hilarious. Almost all the laughs that came from Barbie and Ken’s trip to the Real World – and there are so many – cut deep. They are that kind of incisive observational comedy Barbie‘ a pair of writers cut their teeth with i Frances Ha and Mistress Americadialed up so far that the knob broke off.
The genius of it Barbie that is, his script has an answer for everything. Gerwig and Baumbach know what to say to Barbie cynics, who criticize the doll’s appearance, the influence it can have on children, and how that might affect their perception of women. The film firmly asserts Barbie as a feminist; at the same time, it skewers the commodification of Mattel’s own feminism to sell dolls. Even Ken, who could easily be all comic relief and goofy one-liner, is rewarded with a complex plotline that swayes the entire film’s story, Gosling’s commitment to be harder than he had to any previous role. Confused about how blonde, chiseled Gosling, with perfectly contoured pecs, can pull off what is essentially a woman’s story? Barbie There is a tongue-in-cheek response to that as well.
While Gosling is undeniably fantastic in the film – his physical comedy and line deliveries are the stuff of the leading man era –Barbie It is firmly a Robbie film. Her Barbie is relentlessly unstoppable, thanks to Robbie’s relaxed demeanor and clear attention to the importance of this character. Barbie has a wonderful kindness, and her natural kindness and unrelenting compassion provide the film’s emotional core. Robbie can make the audience cry at the fall of Barbie’s embroidered cowboy hat, but she doesn’t show her cards too soon. BarbieThe last 20 minutes are gut-on-gut punishment, but they wouldn’t be nearly as effective if Gerwig’s sensitive direction slowly caught up to them. One particularly effective moment comes halfway through the film, when Barbie meets an older human woman at a bus stop. It is one of the most memorable scenes in any of Gerwig’s films to date; Thinking about it is enough to choke me.
That is the sheer power of Gerwig’s filmmaking. She can condense emotion into its purest form with seemingly effortless aplomb. Barbie It’s a film she could only have made, and only then Mary’s bird and Little Women. Those films demonstrated Gerwig’s ability to critically analyze women’s and feminist societal ideas through an ultra-personal lens, which she succeeded in doing again. Barbieon an amazing scale.
even though Barbie Existential bits often seen online may throw us off as we all grapple with the fragility of post-pandemic life, Gerwig turns these jokes into something of her own. They go further and hit harder than your average conversational nihilism. America Ferrera, who steals scenes as someone Barbie meets during her time in the Real World, delivers a monologue so strong that it makes you laugh as much as it makes you want to throw up under the weight of the massive inequity of world. Ferrera may be talking about all the things women have to make themselves comfortable with to survive in the world, but it’s never preachy.
Barbiethe ability to cover so much ground in just under two hours is astonishing. Its grainy detail will have viewers returning to it for years, just as they do the Barbies of their childhood, nestled somewhere in a large plastic box. That nostalgia will be powerful for mothers and daughters around the world, and BarbieThe focus on motherhood is always the most motivating theme. The outlandish absurdity of the film’s dialogue will live on in meme format for years to come, but it’s the warm relationship to matriarchy that Barbie a bite, one that cannot be compressed into GIF form.
For anyone worried about that Barbie Gerwig would be a capital sale, be afraid. Even in a world that is inherently plutocratic, Gerwig maintains her integrity. Barbie probably will generate millions dollars for Mattel, as the brand already does. But the cultural impact of the film will go beyond the elites who benefit from it, and the plot makes a mockery of the men who currently run the company for controlling an empire based on the image of a woman. Some may think those things are mutually exclusive, but Gerwig and Barbie don’t bother to overthink it; Barbie’s legacy has taught us well that you can’t please everyone. There is more to do, and Barbie is on a mission to change the world – again. Like the doll itself, the film needs no one’s permission but its own.