Barbie (Greta Gerwig, 2023, USA/UK)

Barbie, the film which has now become a cultural phenomenon, falls into a unique new genre of films. In the past, a film about Barbie may have been a film targeted toward children. In today's postmodern, ironic landscape, Barbie is a film very much oriented toward the adult audience. Made with the full collaboration and endorsement of Hasbro, in many respects, it is amazing that Greta Gerwig's film has as much creative freedom as it expresses. It is certainly not always flattering toward the toymaker. It voices and gives expression to many of the criticisms about Barbie that have existed for decades.

On the whole, Barbie is a clever and funny film - from its 2001-inspired opening, the film is full of jokes that work on multiple levels. Much has been written about Ryan Gosling's great performance as Ken, but Margot Robbie deserves equal praise for her portrayal of Barbie - she has great comic timing. The film is at its best in Barbieland - the humor shines the most here. The transition into the real world from Barbieland is also funny, but the subplot involving America Ferrara's character and her daughter feels underdeveloped relative to the main plot thread involving Barbie and Ken.


While Barbie may bite off more than it can chew, it is actually a smarter film than many of its critics have given it credit for. Because the film is sponsored by Hasbro, the Hasbro employees portrayed in the film (led by Will Ferrell) are larger-than-life cartoonish caricatures of corporate employees. This also somewhat undercuts the film but is understandable given the circumstances. Barbie is not a masterpiece but offers more thought-provoking content than many other summer blockbusters. For that reason alone, it is worthy of some praise and admiration. The film's box office is now north of $1 billion worldwide.



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