Warning: If you have not seen the new Barbie Movie yet, this article WILL contain spoilers and discuss the movie's plot. Proceed at your own risk.
In this innovative American fantasy comedy, helmed by the talented director Greta Gerwig and co-written alongside Noah Baumbach, Mattel's iconic Barbie fashion dolls come to life like never before. Breaking new ground as the first live-action Barbie film, it boldly steps away from the realm of computer-animated direct-to-video and streaming TV adaptations. The film follows the enchanting journey of Barbie, portrayed brilliantly by Margot Robbie and her companion Ken, played by the charismatic Ryan Gosling.
Together, they embark on a transformative quest of self-discovery triggered by an existential crisis that challenges their perception of reality and purpose. This cinematic marvel showcases an extraordinary ensemble cast, featuring the talented America Ferrera, the comedic genius Kate McKinnon, the endearing Michael Cera, the young prodigy Ariana Greenblatt, the witty Issa Rae, the seasoned Rhea Perlman, the venerable Helen Mirren, and the ever-hilarious Will Ferrell.
What is the movie about?
The movie follows Barbie (Margot Robbie) and Ken (Ryan Gosling), alongside the other Barbies and Kens, in this magical land called "Barbieland." In this world, everything is the opposite. Women rule the world (figuratively and literally), and the Barbies occupy many jobs. Astronauts, Physicists, Doctors, Construction Workers, [censored], even the president!
They all live in their own open houses and have girls' night every night (sounds like a dream, honestly). The Kens spend most of their time at the Beach and supporting the Barbies around them. Barbie's boyfriend finds joy solely in her company. He desires a deeper connection, yet Barbie declines his advances, prioritizing her independence and nurturing her bonds with female friends instead. During a house party, she essentially has an "existential crisis" and has thoughts of death and depression.
After humorously revealing her dark thoughts, the Barbies didn't react too well, so Barbie decided to ignore it until the next day, when she started experiencing "malfunctions." She finds she can no longer complete her usual routine and activities, and her hair and skin are no longer free of blemishes. She seeks help from "Weird Barbie," a Barbie that used to be beautiful until its owner played with them too hard and destroyed their appearance. It's revealed that Barbie only feels these thoughts because the person who used to play with her feels this way, and the only way to fix it is to go into the "real world" and find her "owner." She starts on a journey with Ken to the real world, where she faces the harsh realities of Women and their treatment.
Barbie finds a tween girl named Sasha after having visions of her owner's memories. Sasha initially rejects Barbie as a "crazy lady" and a "fascist" until driving her to tears.
Barbie's world is turned upside down when she learns that Gloria, a Mattel employee, and Sasha's mother, unknowingly becomes the cause of her profound inner turmoil. As Gloria grapples with her own identity crisis, she seeks solace by playing with Sasha's Barbie toys, inadvertently projecting her anxieties onto Barbie. Almost getting caught by the CEO and other executives, Barbie is saved in the nick of time by Gloria and Sasha, leading to an unexpected journey to the magical realm of Barbie's land.
Meanwhile, Ken is having the time of his life learning about the American Patriarchal system, where he finally feels accepted and heard. He returns to Barbieland and convinces the other Kens to join him in this system and overtake Barbieland while Barbie is out. Soon, the Barbies are forced into submissive roles such as maids, housewives, and agreeable girlfriends.
Barbie, Sasha, and Gloria try to convince Ken to stop but are rebuffed. Gloria cheers up a depressed Barbie and works with "weird barbie" to "deprogram" the other Barbies into returning to their old selves. They devise a plan to manipulate the Kens into turning against each other while taking back Barbieland once and for all. Barbie and Ken engage in heartfelt apologies, acknowledging their shortcomings. Yet, Ken struggles with the realization that he has been defined solely by his connection to Barbie. In response, Barbie urges him to embark on a journey of self-discovery and establish his own autonomous identity.
Meanwhile, Barbie grapples with her own uncertainty about her purpose and identity. During a profound encounter, she meets the spirit of Ruth Handler, the co-founder of Mattel, who enlightens Barbie about the limitless possibilities in her life. Ruth emphasizes that Barbie's story is an ongoing, ever-evolving narrative that extends far beyond her original origins.
Empowered by this revelation, Barbie makes a courageous decision: embracing her humanity and returning to the real world. Taking the name "Barbara Handler," she ventures into an exciting new chapter of her life. Time passes, and we find Gloria, her husband, and Sasha accompanying Barbara to her first gynecologist appointment, showcasing the continued support and love from those closest to her.
The underlying themes
The movie's strength lies in its fearless confrontation of societal patriarchy, earning both praise and criticism. Through a skillful blend of comedy and raw truth, it cleverly disguises the harsh realities women face under the burden of objectification and gender stereotypes. The laughter it evokes is bittersweet, as it exposes the unfortunate consequences of over-sexualization.
Barbie and Ken's portrayal in the real world, donning leotards, throws a spotlight on women's uncomfortable experiences due to the male gaze and harassment. These moments resonate deeply, unveiling the harsh truth women often confront, hidden beneath the surface of humor.
Moreover, the film allows Mattel to acknowledge Barbie's positive and negative impacts on young girls. While initially meant to empower, the movie addresses how Mattel inadvertently subjected girls to unrealistic beauty standards, fostering a sense of inadequacy for not fitting the "stereotypical Barbie" mold. The film highlights the disparity between the message that "women can be anything" and the harsh reality where women are consistently put down for daring to pursue their dreams.
Detractors may label the film as overly "political" and accuse it of promoting "misandry," dismissing it as dull and cheesy. However, these critics may miss the movie's true essence. Its purpose is to portray misogyny from a different perspective and shed light on the systemic issues embedded within patriarchy.
In essence, the film fearlessly tackles the complexities of gender dynamics, using humor to examine societal norms' profound impact on women's lives. It challenges us to question deeply ingrained beliefs and to reflect on the urgent need for change, making it a powerful and thought-provoking cinematic experience.
My Final thoughts
This movie presents a complex narrative that falls in a unique space between adult-oriented and child-appropriate content. While it delves into deeper themes that may challenge the comprehension of most children, it is not quite classified as an adult film. Despite this complexity, I firmly believe that as many girls as possible should watch this movie. It represents the myriad issues women face in society, and such crucial topics deserve greater exploration and discussion.
The relatability of Barbie's character resonates with all of us as we all go through our daily routines, putting on a façade and pretending that everything is fine, even when things are not. Society has imposed expectations on us to smile and suppress our struggles, which the movie effectively portrays. Ultimately, the film sheds light on the ongoing societal battle between men and women and the immense pressures women feel to achieve an unattainable standard of "perfection." It presents a compelling examination of these themes, making it a thought-provoking and essential watch for audiences of all ages. Please don't be afraid to tell me your opinion of the movie in the comments section!