First released on March 9, 1959, the Barbie doll has accompanied the childhood of many girls from different generations until today. Not only as a doll, but Barbie has also ventured into games and animated films since 2001. After being one of the most popular dolls for so long, Barbie is finally “brought to life” in a live-action film.
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Barbie is directed by Greta Gerwig, known for directing “Little Women” (2019) and “Lady Bird” (2017). This live-action film features various versions of Barbie and Ken, portrayed by Margot Robbie (as the protagonist Barbie), Ryan Gosling (as the protagonist Ken), Kate McKinnon, Simu Liu, and other renowned actors. The film also showcases human characters portrayed by America Ferrera, Will Ferrell, Rhea Perlman, and other actors.
The film’s story revolves around Stereotypical Barbie (Margot Robbie), who suddenly contemplates death, disrupting her beautiful life instantly. To resolve her issues, Weird Barbie suggests that Stereotypical Barbie goes to the real world to find her answers. The Ken version portrayed by Ryan Gosling, who has a secret crush on Stereotypical Barbie, secretly follows her into the real world.
Review of the Barbie film:
A feminist-themed film presented in a humorous and absurd manner.
If you’ve seen the Barbie trailer, you’d know that the film showcases an alternate reality called Barbie Land, where various types of Barbie and Ken reside. Interestingly, in this film, the Barbie and Ken characters become aware of the real world, and they even know how to travel there. Just from this concept alone, you can imagine the absurdity this film presents.
The absurdity displayed by Barbie is a clear comedic element in the movie, which is fitting for characters originating from Barbie Land. However, what bothered me was when the executives from Mattel, characters from the real world, were made to be absurd. Especially the character of the Mattel CEO, portrayed by Will Ferrell, lacked clear motivation.
Initially, the CEO of Mattel is made out to be the film’s villain, chasing Barbie all the way to Barbie Land. But as the film progresses, the villainous motive of the CEO disappears because another character becomes the real villain. Once in Barbie Land, the presence of the Mattel CEO and his entourage doesn’t significantly impact the film’s story. Their presence feels more like a formality to include Mattel, the company that produces Barbie, in the film.
Barbie is not just a comedy film; it serves as a satire, addressing various issues related to feminism and mother-child relationships. However, with its runtime of only 1 hour and 54 minutes, it feels like too much is happening in one film, especially during the middle to the end.
Greta Gerwig, the director and screenwriter of Barbie, openly voices feminist issues in her film. The feminist message is conveyed in a rather extreme way, and these themes are condensed in the middle to the end of the film, leaving me with mixed feelings during this part.
Ryan Gosling shines the brightest.
From the title alone, it’s clear that the film focuses on the story of Barbie, portrayed by Margot Robbie. After watching the film, I am more convinced that Robbie is the perfect fit for the role of Barbie. Robbie effortlessly and gracefully embodies the Stereotypical Barbie who is naive, always stunningly beautiful, and has a playful attitude.
However, when it comes to choosing the standout appearance, I would unquestionably pick Ryan Gosling as Ken. It’s quite surprising to see Gosling successfully portray Ken with a humorous demeanor. Throughout the film, Ken is always over-the-top and exaggerated, but Gosling’s acting skillfully avoids making it cringe-worthy and instead makes it highly entertaining.
Speaking of chemistry, all the actors portraying Barbie and Ken create a perfect chemistry with each other. I thoroughly enjoyed the film when it focused on the interactions between Barbie and Ken, seeing them having fun and dancing together as dolls. Not only did they act well, but the Barbie and Ken characters also put on a quite lengthy and highly entertaining dance performance.
The visually captivating pink world and the delightful soundtrack.
When it comes to visuals, everyone would agree that the production design of Barbie is meticulous and dedicated. The portrayal of Barbie Land in this film truly brings to life how the Barbie world would look like in real life: vibrant with pink colors and a sense of perfection. The perfect set design of Barbie is undoubtedly a result of the work of Sarah Greenwood and Katie Spencer, who served as designers for Barbie Land.
In addition to the production design, our eyes are also treated to various fashions worn by Barbie and Ken. For the costumes, director Greta Gerwig entrusted Jacqueline Durran, and I am quite optimistic that Barbie will be nominated for Best Costume Design or Best Production Design at the 2024 Oscars.
From an audio perspective, Barbie does not disappoint. The film presents a score and soundtrack that perfectly align with the film’s tone. Along with the visually captivating Barbie, our ears are also delighted while following each scene.
Barbie addresses feminist issues in a humorous, colorful, and somewhat absurd manner. Although it’s a film about Barbie, Ryan Gosling steals the spotlight. His portrayal of Ken, especially in Gosling’s version, evokes empathy from the audience. And undoubtedly, Barbie boasts one of the most impressive production designs.
After reading the review of the Barbie film, are you interested in watching this comedy? For those who have seen it, don’t forget to share your thoughts about the film!