Greta Gerwig’s Barbie is this satire that starts off with a blast, and I must say that I laughed out loud in the initial half of the movie. The woke politics never becomes too evident and boring, and it works perfectly as a teaser. That recreation of Kubrick’s Space Odyssey opening sequence creates a really good first impression. But when the film addresses the solution to the conflict, the tone shifts drastically, and how it communicates the political statements start to sound a bit loud and desperate. Even though the fun element was there till the end, the absence of those sly and subtle comebacks in dialogues kind of diminishes the witty charm.
So we have the real world and Barbieland, and Barbieland is a matriarchal society dominated obviously by the Barbies. The same old routine life of celebrations was going on for them until one day, our lead, the stereotypical Barbie, found her feat in an unnatural position. When she looked for a solution, she was asked to find her owner in the real world, who may have malfunctioned her. How this real-world entry of Barbie messes up things is what we see in Greta Gerwig’s film.
At its core Barbie is a critique of the toy itself for propagating certain stereotypes in the minds of both men and women. The idea of beauty and the feminine features it projected had a terrible influence on women and men. By being this Deadpoolish irreverent comedy that occasionally breaks the fourth wall through voiceovers, Greta quickly sets the movie’s mood. At a time when films about women’s rights and equality follow a somber tone, it is actually good to have something that approaches the same theme but in a satiric way.
Greta wants to burst the bubble for the Barbies about the real world, and she uses Ken as a tool to make them realize what the real world feels like. And that gives way to the introduction of various forms of mansplaining, and Greta goes after classic romantic films to the templates of songs to make us (primarily men) realize how the patriarchal conditioning works. It’s just that when the movie reaches the final moments of the second act and goes to the third act, the writing becomes impatient about conveying the politics. As much as you appreciate the intent, the jarring shift in the tone of the writing kind of bothers you because of the glorious start of this movie.
As the title character Barbie, Margot Robbie pulls off the humor neatly, and the pitch of the performance never becomes way too noisy. Ryan Gosling as Ken is a delight to watch, and the performance is so uninhibited and free-flowing. Kate McKinnon as Weird Barbie was hilarious, and so was Will Ferrell, who played the role of the Mattel CEO, who tries hard to be politically correct. Emma Mackey, Ncuti Gatwa, and Connor Swindells, three names from Netflix’s Sex Education, are part of the movie in small appearances. America Ferrera, Simu Liu, Ariana Greenblatt, and Rhea Perlman are also part of the elaborate cast, along with many more cameos.
The sarcastic dig Barbie takes on the male-dominated world through its quirky humor is indeed fabulous. And the pertinence of that theme keeps this movie lively till the end. But like I said, the innovativeness in approaching and establishing the conflict was not really there in resolving the conflict. With sporadic outbursts of feministic humor, Barbie is definitely worth a watch but not necessarily unforgettable.
With sporadic outbursts of feministic humor, Barbie is definitely worth a watch but not necessarily unforgettable.
Green: Recommended Content
Orange: The In-Between Ones
Red: Not Recommended