Movie Review: Barbie (Gerwig, 2023)

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Movie: Barbie

Production Companies: HeyDay Films, LuckyChap Entertainment, NB/GG Pictures, Mattel Films

Director: Greta Gerwig

Producers: David Heyman, Margot Robbie, Tom Ackerley, Robbie Brenner

Scriptwriters: Greta Gerwig, Noah Baumbach

Main Cast: Margot Robbie, Ryan Gosling, America Ferrera, Kate McKinnon, Michael Cera, Issa Rae 

Release Date: July 21st 2023 (US)

Running Time: 114 minutes

Certificate: 12A


Well, it’s a Barbie world and we’re just living in it. I mean just look at the box office and tell me Mattel isn’t going to make a Barbie cinematic universe… Anyway the other half of Barbieheimer equation is a wickedly fun, feminist satirical look into the iconic doll whilst also just being a very funny film in its own right. Oh, check out the Oppenheimer review here…. Now, without further ado let’s unwrap the plastic and get into why Barbie is so fantastic. (Sorry for the terrible pun)


Barbie follows a whole host of Barbies, but more specifically stereotypical Barbie (Robbie) as she starts suffering imperfections in the eyes of the other Barbies. This leads her and Ken (Gosling) to journey from Barbie Land to the real world where Barbie discovers how women are mistreated, unlike the matriarchal system within Barbie Land, and Ken discovers the patriarchy. And also horses but that’s less of the point. All this leads to Barbie and humans Gloria (Ferrera) and her daughter Sasha banding together and discovering the true meaning of what Barbie is.


Margot Robbie’s Performance in Barbie

There’s a lot to dissect about Barbie, beginning with Margot Robbie’s performance. And it’s fantastic to make a long story short. However, specific reasons why it’s so good begin with her emotional breakdown over Ken taking over BarbieLand to make it Kendom. Here, Robbie having an existential crisis about not being pretty enough and not being good enough to stop Ken adds so much emotional depth to a doll. Also, the very cheeky meta line about Margot Robbie’s attractiveness here both adds to the point whilst also being very in keeping with Greta Gerwig.

Also, huge props to Robbie and the stunt team for the day where things start to go wrong as initially we see her float down off the roof (clever usage of reality there) however the second time around Barbie just falls off the roof. This moment is enhanced by the initial bewilderment and the fact the camera doesn’t initially pan down which again could mimic a human playing with Barbie. Oh, and I’d be remiss if I didn’t mention her chemistry with Ken which is brilliant and is something the audience can’t get kenough of…

Ryan Gosling’s Performance in Barbie

Speaking of Ken, Ryan Gosling is surely in a race going after the Best Supporting Actor Oscar with a performance which is equal parts meta and brilliant. So much of what makes Gosling’s performance great is how unaware of the consequences he is, which definitely is intended to be a meta dig at men. Poor Ben Shapiro’s ego… Just look at the scenes where he learns about the patriarchy and horses in the real world. He seems so happy just to be accepted that he turns a blind eye to the damage the patriarchy does to women, hence his obliviousness when Barbie, Gloria and Sasha arrive in BarbieLand.

Oh, and another reason he’s so good is how he shows Ken’s need for Barbie’s attention is the Ken musical number. SIMPly put, it’s a phenomenal scene and musical number which really shows off Ken’s relationship with Barbie because he needs her a lot more than she needs him. Also, it shows off Gosling’s comedic credentials which is never a bad thing.

Meta Humour in Barbie

Now while the meta nature of Barbie works for the most part, the one part which feels out of place is when it takes aim at the capitalist nature of Mattel. Firstly, this is a bit like the chicken calling the egg an a**hole. Don’t get me wrong it’s funny and there’s some great gags like Will Ferrell listing off how he respects women by just naming his mother but it feels a bit too on the nose. Again, I get why they chose to include this subplot because of Barbie’s inherent capitalist links but it just feels a bit out of place.

However, the meta nature of the rest of the film really works, especially when it comes to the meta feminine jokes about how the Kens don’t understand the damage they’re causing. Oh, and also the jokes about how the Barbies move like they’re being played with works really well within the meta nature of the film. Now, the lesson we’ve learned from Barbie is not to bite the hand that feeds you and finances your $145 million film.


To summarise Barbie, this is a fun and meta film which really embodies the lives of women whilst also criticising the standards Barbie dolls force on them. Now while the meta nature of the film does mostly work, the capitalist criticism of Mattel is an example of Barbie missing the mark but at the end of the day we’re going to be living in Barbie world for a long time…

Overall Rating: 8.5/10 – Very Good

Target Audience: 12+

Content Warning: Mild Sex and Nudity, Mild Profanity

Recommendation: Yes