“I’m a Barbie girl, in the Barbie world.” Thanks to the music of Nicki Minaj, Ice Spice, and Aqua, it’s not hard to fall into character when watching the latest release from Warner Brothers built around Mattel’s iconic Barbie. It also doesn’t hurt that there’s been impressive and aggressive promotion of “Barbie,” starring Margot Robbie and Ryan Gosling. The $150 million marketing budget created splashes of pink, over the top fanfare and a chance to win a free overnight stay at an Airbnb in Malibu made to look like a real-life Barbie Dream House. Millions entered the lottery; oddly I didn’t win.
As the movie’s premiere drew near, it seemed the whole world was invaded by all things Barbie. Over 100 companies partnered to help promote “Barbie,” causing an explosion in all shades of pink – products from hats, dresses, and shoes, to alcoholic beverages. Even Google’s home page turns glittery pink when one searches for ‘Barbie.’ Here in San Diego, Barbie was everywhere at the annual Comic Con with what seemed to be hundreds of men and women dressed as Barbie and Ken and contributing to this year’s immersive Malibu Experience.
Robbie plays stereotypical Barbie and it’s hard to imagine anyone else who could fill the role better. Not only did she look flawless, but her flair for acting the part of an endearing figure was on point. She was the embodiment of Barbie in real life. Gosling as Ken, with his too good to be true tan and six-pack abs was hilarious and entertaining. My daughter appreciated Gosling’s musical numbers in the movie. I imagine the movie soundtrack downloads will skyrocket.
The movie centers on the cotton candy pink party atmosphere of Barbie’s world. Robbie, Gosling and the supporting cast bring to life the imaginations of kids playing with Barbie and all her Mattel accessories. And every day is perfect in Barbie Land. Until one day it isn’t. The movie has a plot! Barbie goes on a journey to fix what’s wrong, but the adventure goes much deeper than that, and in the end becomes more about her own self-discovery.
The movie is utterly enjoyable and mostly upbeat with plenty of humor, drama, suspense, a sprinkle of action, and powerfully believable themes about feminism, courage, determination, and friendships.
One negative is the supercharged monologue America Ferrera gives. My criticism is not about the message, which I wholeheartedly support, but more about the execution of how it was injected into the movie. The delivery was over the top like someone trying to get their point across by violently jabbing a finger in your chest. Also, the more I reflect on the different plots, the more I think it becomes discombobulated because they tried to do a little too much.
It’s not the perfect movie about a perfect place, but it ends up being a perfect movie for the summer. The previews enticed us with glamour and whimsy and gave us something to be excited about. My daughter was caught up in the Barbenheimer (“Barbie” and “Oppenheimer” released the same weekend) hype and that certainly didn’t hurt the numbers as this was the highest grossing North American movie opening of all time for a female director. Bravo Greta Gerwig! “Barbie” delivered beyond my expectations. Dress up in Barbie fashion and have fun!
‘Life in plastic, it’s fantastic. Come on, Barbie, let’s go party.’
Movie Times: Click here
Run Time: 1 hr 54 min
Genre: Comedy/Drama. PG-13
Actors: Margot Robbie, Ryan Gosling, Issa Rae, Kate McKinnon, Alexandra Shipp, America Ferrera, Will Ferrell, Rhea Perlman
Director: Greta Gerwig