Friday, March 22, 2024

Movie Review: ‘Barbie’ not cutesy and carries a message

By Matt Pascarella

Rated: PG-13
Runtime: 1 hour, 54 minutes

For Barbie, every day in Barbie Land is perfect. She has parties, hangs out with friends (who are also named Barbie mostly) and just enjoys being Barbie ... until one day she has a thought of death and from there on, everything changes. Barbie needs to go to the Real World and find the girl who is having these thoughts. And then there’s Ken, who accompanies Barbie to the Real World. Can Barbie figure out what’s wrong and make things go back to normal, or is everything forever changed?

“Barbie stars Margot Robbie, Helen Mirren, Issa Rae, Kate McKinnon, Alexandra Shipp, Emma Mackey, Hari Nef, Sharon Rooney, Ana Cruz Kayne, Dua Lipa, Ryan Gosling, Simu Liu, Kingsley Ben-Adir, Scott Evans, John Cena, Michael Cera, Will Ferrell, America Ferrera, Ariana Greenblatt, and Rhea Pearlman.

Dolls have been around for a long, long, time. However, these were baby dolls and only gave girls the opportunity to play mothers – until Barbie. Barbie changed everything twice. There are many different types of Barbies and Barbie can be anything she wants; women can be anything they want. As far as Barbie knows, all problems of feminism and equal rights have been solved.

In Barbie Land, Barbie (Robbie) has a perfect day every day. Ken’s (Gosling) good days only exist if Barbie looks at him. It’s obvious that Ken has machismo.

Barbie’s perfect day is brought to a screeching halt when she asks the other Barbies if they ever think of dying. When Barbie’s heels touch the ground, it’s apparent this Stereotypical Barbie is malfunctioning. She has to visit Weird Barbie (McKinnon) who tells her there’s a rip in the membrane between Barbie Land and the Real World. Whoever is playing with Barbie must be sad, and Barbie has to help her to help herself.

Don’t blame Weird Barbie, it’s Mattel who makes the rules.

Barbie agrees to go to the Real World, and Ken sneaks in the back of her car.

In the Real World, Barbie is objectified, and Ken is celebrated (in his mind). Ken learns about patriarchy and gets a little too into it.

Ken sees a male-dominated world and Barbie sees the life of the girl who used to play with her and despair.

When Barbie goes looking for the girl playing with her, she is chastised by Sasha (Greenblatt) who tells her she’s been making women feel bad about themselves since she was invented. Barbie wants girls to feel powerful.

The FBI alerts Mattel that two of their dolls have escaped and this sends the executives, including Mattel CEO (Ferrell) into a panic.

Mattel finds her and has a plan for everything to go back to normal, but she escapes with the help of Ruth Handler (Pearlman).

Barbie learns it’s a woman, Gloria (Ferrara) who’s been feeling sad. This explains Barbie’s existential crisis. However, it still needs to be fixed.

Nominated for eight Academy Awards and winning for Best Achievement in Music Written for Motion Pictures for Bille Eilish and Finneas O’Connell’s “What Was I Made For?” plus a slew of other awards, the “Barbie” movie has definitely made its mark on the world. This was certainly not what I was expecting, in a good way; I think I was expecting a cutesy story about Barbie. It’s poignant and deals with adult themes, like misogyny, objectification, feminism, equal rights, patriarchy, empowerment, toxic masculinity, existentialism, self-identity, depression, anxiety and others I’m sure I missed. “Barbie” opens up several good talking points to have discussions about real world situations with kids of all ages. It’s funny, well-written, well-acted and cast.

Two thumbs up.

Now streaming on Max and available to rent. <

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