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Barbie (2023)
Barbie (2023)
2023 | Animation, Romance
7.6 (5 Ratings)
Movie Rating
More Than Meets The Eye
The Margot Robbie/Ryan Gosling curiosity BARBIE is a subversive film. This Greta Gerwig directed move lures you in by presenting a farcical/satirical look at the pastel colored “Barbieland” and the myriad of outfits and “golly-gosh” goodness of the world of this iconic Mattel doll (and her boyfriend, Ken). Once you are comfortably settled into this world, you are transformed to the “real world” and the much deeper themes of a women’s place in a patriarchal world.

As another toy’s slogan puts it, “there’s more than meets the eye” to this film.

And one should have expected something more than just a “surfacey-fun” film from the Writer/Director of such fare as LADYBIRD and FRANCES HA. Gerwing uses the stereotypes of Barbie and Ken to take a look at our society and the inherent hierarchy of the sexes while peeling back the layers of the key players to make them more than the plastic dolls they portray.

And…it works surprisingly well for adults - not so much for kids.

Margot Robbie, of course, is perfectly cast as the titular Barbie. She has the looks and the vacuous devil-may-care attitude of “Stereotype Barbie” and is a comfortable, pleasing entity to share this adventure with. But, with Gerwig’s direction, Robbie’s performance reveals, subtly, layer after layer until - at the end - we end up with a full fledged character and not just a living doll.

Ryan Gosling is just as strong as Barbie’s counterpart, Ken. He morphs from a Barbie worshipping boyfriend to something else once he encounters the real, male-dominated world. The BankofMarquis wondered why Gosling would agree to do a film that, on it’s surface, appears to be a one-note joke-fest, but once the film really drives to it’s point, one can see why Gosling agreed to be in this.

Issa Rae, Kate McKinnon, Simu Liu, Michael Cerra, Helen Mirren (as the narrator) and America Ferrara all spark - at times - during this film while it was good to see Rhea Perlman (Carla on CHEERS) have a role that she could sink her teeth into.

Only Will Ferrell - as the money hungry CEO of Mattel - falls short of interesting. His character - one of the only “real world” characters in this film - stays stereotypical throughout the movie. He is the only complete caricature in this film…and perhaps that is on purpose.

Credit for the surprising depth of this film goes to Gerwig who brings her sensibilities to this film to make a comment on our society. It’s a bold move by Gerwig and works well…unless you are a Mom that is bringing your 5 or 6 year old child to this film.

And, that is the caution to this movie. It’s not, necessarily, made for the youngsters that play with Barbies. The kids will love the early going of this film, but the more adult themes in the middle of the movie will probably make a good deal of them squirm in their seats, since these moments of depth will go over their heads.

A surprisingly fun…and deeper than it appears to be….film, this Barbie is a multi-level dreamhouse.

Letter Grade: A-

 8 stars (out of 10) and you can take that to the BankofMarquis