[FILM REVIEW] BARBIE Review (2023)

Summary: Barbie suffers a crisis that leads her to question her world and her existence.

Year: 2023

Cinema Release Dates:  20th July 2023 (Australia), 20th July 2023 (Thailand), 21st July 2023 (UK), 21st July (USA)

VOD Release Dates: TBA

Country: UK, USA

Director: Greta Gerwig

Screenwriter: Greta Gerwig, Noah Baumbach

Cast: Kingsley Ben-Adir (Ken), Rita Arya (Barbie), John Cena (Ken), Michael Cera (Allen), Nicola Coughlin (Barbie), Scott Evans (Ken), Emerald Fennell (Midge), America Ferrera (Gloria), Will Ferrell (Mattel CEO), Ncuti Gatwa (Ken), Ryan Gosling (Ken), Ariana Greenblatt (Sasha), Ana Cruz Kayne (Barbie), Dua Lipa (Barbie), Simu Liu (Ken), Emma Mackey (Barbie), Daniela Marin (Barbie), Kate McKinnon (Barbie), Molly Mcowan (Barbie), Helen Mirren (Narrator), Hari Nef (Barbie), Issa Rae (Barbie), Margot Robbie (Barbie), Sharon Rooney (Barbie), Kelly Rian Sanson (Dancer Barbie), Alexandra Shipp (Barbie), Kingdom Sibanda (Dancer – Ken), Connor Swindells (Aaron Dinkins), Chris Taylor (Ken), Genevieve Toussaint (Sasha (Age 6))

Running Time: 114 mins

Classification: PG (Australia), G (Thailand), 12A (UK), PG-13 (USA)


David Griffiths’s Barbie Review

It is the film that has the whole world talking right now – Barbie. In the lead up nobody really knew what to expect, except a lot of pink, was it going to be something serious aimed for adults or was it going to be funny and aimed at children? It seems though it wasn’t only the cinema going audience asking those questions, they were questions that the filmmakers themselves may have been confused about because the result is a film that seems to awkwardly sit in the middle.

Directed by Greta Gerwig (Lady Bird) Barbie is a film that actually features a lot of different Barbies and Kens. In the beginning they all live in BarbieLand where the main Barbie (Margot Robbie – The Wolf Of Wall Street) wakes up every day to a perfect day of fun in the sun with her friends. And when the sun sets it is time for her to party.

That Barbie also has her Ken (Ryan Gosling – La La Land) who is always doting after her and competing with other Kens for her affection. But sadly, for Ken it is also obvious that his feelings for Barbie are a lot stronger than hers for him.

But then one day everything changes. Barbie’s life starts to get less perfect – something is beginning to go wrong. The only person with any answers is the one referred to as Strange Barbie (Kate McKinnon – Ghostbusters) who quickly tells Barbie that the issues that the person playing with her in the real world is starting to project onto her. The only way she can solve it is by travelling to the real world and trying to help her ‘human.’

So, with Ken in tow Barbie makes her way to the real world where she soon meets Gloria (America Ferrera – Superstore) and her daughter, Sasha (Ariana Greenblatt – 65). But before Barbie can help them the news of her arrival reaches the Mattel CEO (Will Ferrell – Anchorman) who decides that Barbie needs to be put back in her box before there is an incident.

Meanwhile Ken begins to realise that men can also be leaders and decides to head back to BarbieLand and change things around so it can become his Kengdom which leaves Barbie having to fix problems both there and in the real world.

Barbie is kind of a difficult film to review. Not only in this the kind of film that is guaranteed to divide an audience the film almost being split in two halves causes issues of its own. The way Gerwig introduces the audience to BarbieLand is amazing. The characters are set up amazingly well, the dance sequences are stunning and the laughs come thick and fast.

The then something terrible happens with the film. Even when Barbie and Ken first arrive in the real world the film works but once we see inside the Mattel offices a cheesiness washes over the film that completely ruins it. Gone are the smart bits of comedy that made the opening so special and instead the audience must endure lame comedy that doesn’t hit the mark while every male character, especially Ferrell’s CEO character, becomes a brain-dead moron.

Some may say that the political message behind the film gets in the way of the story at hand but that simply isn’t the case. While the film may have made more sense if it promoted the fact that men and women are equal rather than one being better than the other the real issue here is the writing and the change of tone for the second half of the film.

The comedy and some of the scenarios in the that second half become completely ridiculous and that is where the problems are going to lay for the audience. The political tone and point will go right over the heads of children watching the film while the cheesy humour is going to make it a difficult watch for the adults.

What saves this film are the performances. Margot Robbie is brilliant as Barbie while Ryan Gosling is the perfect Ken. Also worth a mention are Michael Cera (Juno) who often steals the show in the scenes that he is in while Rhea Pearlman (Cheers) also has an amazing cameo. Th real shame though is that the talents of America Ferrera are wasted in this film while Will Ferrell isn’t reigned in as much as he should have been.

Sadly, Barbie isn’t the brilliant film that many hoped it would be. The cheesy comedy often gets in the way of what could have been a very important storyline and to be honest many will expect more from a Gerwig film.

Dave’s rating Out Of 5

Lee Griffiths’s Barbie Review

Alex’s rating Out Of 5

Alex First’s Barbie Review

The hype has been enormous, but does Barbie, the movie, live up to expectations?

Some elements do and others not so much.

This is a film populated by a surfeit of Barbies and Kens in Barbieland, where women rule the roost and men trail in their wake.

The chief Ken (bleach blonde Ryan Gosling, with a six-pack to die for) has “the hots” for principal Barbie (perfectly turned out, gorgeous Margot Robbie).

Barbie, though, wants to keep things platonic. Even a kiss is out of the question.

Everything in Barbieland is picture perfect.

Barbie wakes up without a hair out of place in her open house that everyone can see into and warmly greets all the other Barbies.

Same goes for the Kens’ salutations to one another, although in Gosling’s case his jealousy of rival suitors is on show from the outset.

Suddenly though, Robbie’s Barbie is strangely out of sync. She finds herself raising the issue of death with the other Barbies, before quickly checking herself.

But then, to reinforce her discombobulation, the natural, dreamy arch in her foot collapses … and she burns the toast.

Rather than her usual practice of floating down from her house into her car, she lands heavily alongside it. And to top it off – horror of horrors – she even has cellulite … for the first time.

The other Barbies explain to Robbie that she is malfunctioning and the only one who can address her issues is Weird Barbie (Kate McKinnon).

It turns out that somehow the separation Robbie’s Barbie had from the real world has been broken.

Weird Barbie instructs Robbie’s Barbie to travel to the real world to try to find the girl who initiated the split, which she does, Ken in tow.

Let’s just say all doesn’t go according to plan and Ken gets his own ideas about how he would like to reconfigure Barbieland.

Barbie, the movie, has some genuine, smile inducing and laugh aloud moments, but I wanted more.

For all the emphasis on girl power, which I wholeheartedly endorse, it is too vacuous.

Given the writing talent involved (Greta Gerwig and Noah Baumbach, who co-wrote Frances Ha), I was hoping for more cleverness.

There is certainly some of it on show, but not enough for my liking.

I found the start flat and, at one point, even distasteful.

Furthermore, it is a giant – and not at all subtle – ad for Mattel. Surely the dolls sell themselves, as they have for generations.

On the plus side, Margot Robbie does all she can to elevate the spectacle. It is fun to watch her transition from naive to enlightened.

Kate McKinnon all but steals the show as Weird Barbie. Her comic turn is special.

I loved the references to the Barbie creator Ruth Handler, who named Barbie after her daughter Barbara. (It was 9th March, 1959 when Ruth took Barbie to the annual Toy Fair in New York … and the rest is history.)

And the plot pivots around a heartfelt and inspired monologue by America Ferrera as Mattel’s executive secretary Gloria.

As the narrator, Helen Mirren also finds moments to shine.

I appreciated the blend of “toyish” action with real life. I thought the filmmakers did that particularly well … and the colour palette is delightful.

A number of standout scenes include Barbie eating and drinking without food on her plate or liquid in her cup and Ken’s surfing wipe out. In summary, while the movie has endearing features, the plotting could have been stronger.

Alex’s rating Out Of 5

Average Subculture rating Out Of 5

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