Film Review: Barbie

by Julia DeKorte | 31 Jul 2023

Book Reviews



The widely anticipated live-action Barbie movie was released on July 21, 2023, and has been a smash hit. Grossing over $774 million worldwide so far, Margot Robbie as Barbie and Ryan Gosling as Ken have led Barbie to be the third-highest grossing film of 2023. The film was directed by Greta Gerwig, written by Greta Gerwig and Noah Baumbach, produced by David Heyman, Margot Robbie, Tom Ackerly, and Robbie Brenner, and of course, based on America’s favorite doll, Mattel’s Barbie.


Barbie lives in Barbieland with all the other Barbies and Kens. Barbieland is a matriarchal society, where Barbies hold all the positions of power in all the industries, including politics, medicine, and government, while the Kens hang out on the beach for the day. Ken, whose job is “beach,” only feels fulfilled when Barbie is paying attention to him, but his love is not requited by Barbie, who sees him as a friend and would rather be on her own.


One night, Barbie starts having thoughts of death, and the next day, nothing seems to go her way. Her milk is expired, her toast is burnt, and worst of all, her feet have gone flat and she has cellulite. Panicking, she visits Weird Barbie, an outcast of Barbieland but a very wise resource. She tells Barbie she must leave Barbieland and go to the Real World, where she must find the child who is playing with her if she wants her old life back. So, Barbie sets off for the real world, only to realize on her way that Ken snuck into the backseat of her car and would be joining her.


When they reach the real world, Barbie goes off to find her owner, Sasha, a sassy, independent middle school girl who harshly tells Barbie off for representing unfair beauty standards. Meanwhile, Ken discovers the patriarchy and feels respected for the first time. Determined to hold onto that feeling, he brings the patriarchy back to Barbieland and persuades the Kens to band together and turn Barbieland from a matriarchal society to a patriarchal society.


While Ken is on his own mission, Barbie learns that it wasn’t actually Sasha playing with her and causing her to have thoughts of death, flat feet, and cellulite, but Sasha’s mother, Gloria, a Mattel employee who was having her own identity crisis and channeled her concerns into Sasha’s old Barbie. Mattel CEO and executives learn of Barbie’s appearance in the Real World and want to capture her and send her back to the manufacturer but Gloria and Sasha appear to Barbie’s rescue. The three escape back to Barbieland, but what they find is worse than what they left behind.


The Kens have taken over and want to change the constitution. All the Barbies are under a sort of submissive spell, resigned to jobs such as maids, housewives, and girlfriends, and worse, they like it. Feeling hopeless and depressed, Barbie gives up, and the only hope for restoring Barbieland is in Gloria’s hands.


With such high expectations set ahead of its release Barbie had a lot to live up to, but it absolutely succeeded. The film featured a wonderful inclusion of Ruth Handler and her dreams and visions for Barbie. It was funny, visually gorgeous, and entertaining. The cast was incredible, with America Ferrera, Kate McKinnon, Michael Cera, Issa Rae, Rhea Perlman, Will Ferrell, and Dua Lipa starring alongside Robbie and Gosling. And while it was fun to watch and hilarious, it also passed along messages of feminism and the impossibly high expectations of womanhood. Fun for any viewer of any age and interest, Barbie is a wonderful showing of all parties involved and the perfect movie to watch with family, friends, or any inspiring woman you know.

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