Movie Review: Let's Go Party!
Barbie is hilarious and ambitious
Has there ever been a more controversial and discussed toy than Barbie? Since her invention in 1959, she has been praised as a role model and condemned as an anti-feminist stereotype of femininity. Some have claimed her literally impossible physical features to be inspiring, others the cause of issues of self-esteem and body dysmorphia. Amazingly, Greta Gerwig is able to address all these issues and more with her film Barbie, a far more ambitious, intelligent, and laugh-out-loud funny movie than I ever could have thought a toy advertisement could be.
The film follows Barbie (Margot Robbie) on a typical day in BarbieLand, which is great like every other day. But her endless positivity is slowly being eroded by grim thoughts of dying, prompting Barbie and her best buddy Ken (Ryan Gosling, in a show-stopping performance) to venture into the real world to find the source of her malaise. However, this has an effect on BarbieLand when Ken brings some of the more troublesome ideals of the real world back with him.
The film is ambitious (any film that opens with a parody of 2001: A Space Odyssey is going for something grand), perhaps a little too ambitious as it tries to make critiques of Barbie as an inspiration/impossible ideal as well as comment on modern womanhood, the constrictions of patriarchy, and the pain of growing up. It's a lot to tackle, but I'm happy the film is more than the simple nostalgia-bait it could have been (looking at you, Mario). Barbie doesn't hit all its marks perfectly, but when it does, few films are more entertaining.
Directed by Greta Gerwig // Written by Gerwig and Noah Baumbach // Starring Margot Robbie, Ryan Gosling, America Ferrera, Ariana Greenblatt, Michael Cera, Kate McKinnon, Issa Rae, Simu Liu, Rhea Perlman, Will Ferrell, and Helen Mirren // 114 minutes // Rated PG-13 // Warner Bros. Pictures