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Barbie review: pink, parties and the patriarchy
Never has there been such a fun way to discuss stereotypical gender roles
It’s the 21st of July 2023 and all around you are either cinema goers drenched in pink or more lowkey, often black, outfits. Barbie or Oppenheimer? It’s the ultimate Gen Z personality indicator. Are you ready to alight your inner feminist or history nerd? Of course, there is some who are both, one after the other, and they might just have the dedication to conquer all.
But, this time, it’s Barbie we’ve chosen. The movie that has had intense promo not seen for many films nowadays. So much so, there was a slight concern it may be overcompensating for not being up to scratch. But that wasn’t the case for this one.
It’s absolutely a blockbuster smash and the fun film that’s been missing from the big screens. It’s here to make up for the lack of genuinely entertaining chick flicks since the early 2000s. This chick flick is everything. The others are just Ken. It has all the comedy of Mean Girls, the fashion of Clueless, the fun of 13 Going on 30, the girl power of Legally Blonde and enough pink to make Elle Woods look beige. It’s sure to be the new sleepover classic for generations to come and the nostalgia means the older Gen Z’s and Millennials will be rewatching it too.
If you’ve been to see it already, you’ll know it’s one of those rare films that can really get a cinema full of people, of all different backgrounds and ages, laughing, and loudly too. That’s all thanks to the writing and incredible comedic timing- there’s that *one* line that is comedic perfection (if you know, you know).
But this tear jerking, side splitting, cheek aching laughter wouldn’t be possible without the actors delivering the line. Ryan Gosling is absolutely every bit as hysterical as everyone is saying he is. Every facial expression, he nails. And Margot Robbie isn’t without her stitch inducing moments too. Robbie is a sensation as Barbie, her performance is at once wildly fun and entertaining but also surprisingly moving. She’ll have you laughing through the pain.
Whilst these two dominate the headlines and screentime, the rest of the cast also make the most of their time in spotlight. Michael Cera and America Ferrera absolutely steal the show at times. It’s almost a shame the full cast was announced beforehand as it would have been fun to see all the reactions from unexpected cameos. From what is essentially the entire cast of Netflix’s Sex Education to pop sensation Dua Lipa to Rob Brydon - a cameo that might go over the heads of non-UK folk - this film is full of exceptional actors.
As well as the comedy, writing and acting, one thing that really shines through is the attention to detail within the set, props, and costumes. From replicas of real Barbie doll outfits to the dream houses with stickers for fridges, the overall design is very well thought out. Amidst debate about which actors will or won’t be getting Oscar nominations, the costume and set is a clear choice for acclaim.
This perfect design adds to the nostalgia alongside clever references and Barbie ‘lore’. The writing, expertly scripted, replicates how, as kids, we would have narrated our dolls’ lives. There are countless nods to discontinued dolls, showers that obviously don’t have running water. And of course, ‘weird Barbie’, because we all took our mums kitchen scissors and gave one unlucky doll a luxury makeover. It’s all very relatable for the girls (and the gays) who grew up playing with Barbies.
The underlying narrative of the film is inherently feminist and off screen, the film is making firsts for women in film as Greta Gerwig makes history with the biggest opening weekend for a female director. Barbie raked in an impressive $377m globally and managed to beat Oppenheimer’s sales. It is, without a doubt, the biggest film of the year so far and certainly the movie of the summer. Not to see it would be to miss out on the most light-hearted, amusing and simultaneously forward-thinking film to grace the industry. It’s everything.