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'Barbie' review: Margot Robbie and Ryan Gosling star in Greta Gerwig's doll comedy that has fun and sidesteps politics

Greta Gerwig’s Barbie (unless you count Helen Mirren’s omniscient narrator), but the director does experiment with creation myths. Barbieland, a parallel universe filled with iterations of Mattel dolls, is her sandbox. The toy conglomerate’s vast archives, plethora of successful products, middling ideas, and discontinued merchandise are tools.

In this deft satire of Barbie and her fraught legacy, Gerwig delights in the richness and weirdness of her material. The director, known for his shrewd and narratively precise theatrics, does an impressive job in a corporate film. Barbie

is always driven by jokes – sometimes laugh out loud, but always giggly – that will mock Mattel, stimulate The absurdity of the doll’s knowledge and gestures confronts the contradictions of our sexist society.

Barbie doll

Bottom line This is a delicate balancing act between corporate loyalty and disruption.

Release Date:
Friday, July

Margot Robbie, Ryan Gosling , Kate McKinnon, America Ferrera , Ariana Greenblatt, Issa Ray, Rhea Perlman, Will Ferrell
Director: Greta Gerwig
Greta Gerwig, Noah Baumbach Rated PG-13, 1 hour54 minute

For Gerwig, the fun is always in the details. Her Barbieland — thanks to Sarah Greenwood production design and Jacqueline Duran costumes — is a pink maniac’s dream. Funk tracks by Mark Ronson and Andrew Wyatt and bubblegum anthems by Dua Lipa, Nicki Minaj and Ice Spice A fantasy of magenta and blush. Plastic trees and identical two-story Barbie dream homes line every avenue of this man-made beachfront spot. Engineless vehicles are on the road, but flying is the preferred mode of transportation. Think about it: have you ever seen a Barbie doll climb stairs?

A KENS army patrols the pristine beaches of the land. These chiseled dolls won’t save a drowning person, or anyone, but they sure stand up there and look pretty. Barbie does real work: She’s the president of the Supreme Court and all the justices. She is a doctor and physicist. She won every Nobel Prize and possibly cured cancer. Babyland is a feminist utopia, an inversion of patriarchal reality. Mirren’s voice-over commentary adds to the storybook quality.

It’s no surprise that Barbieland isn’t structurally different from our world. Figurative dolls have become an extension of political fantasy, an exercise in assumptions for a decade. Barbie was in space long before many human women could vote and own property. Her appearance has also changed, reflecting society’s beauty politics.

Gerwig’s pink world is filled with a series of Barbie dolls played by a powerful star cast: Issa Rae, Emma Emma Mackey, Alexandra Shipp and Hari Nef are some of the faces on the show. Movie. But this sly and funny comedy stars stereotypical Barbie (Margot Robbie), the blond embodiment of Ruth Handler’s imagination. Ryan Gosling plays her Ken with impressive heart and humor (other Kens in the film include Simu Liu, Kingsley Ben-Adil (Kingsley Ben-Adir) and John Cena). If Eve is God’s favorite and Adam admits to being responsible, then these two pairs are Eve and Adam’s double.

Their fall is less righteous, but no less dramatic. When Barbie finds her perfect life suddenly constrained by existential thoughts, she seeks answers from the queer Barbie (Kate McKinnon), a doll whose traumatic experiences (she’s been “played too hard”) have made her Saints of the kingdom. At the suggestion of the abandoned Barbie, the stereotypical Barbie, with the very eager Ken, travels to real-world Los Angeles to find her young daughter. The relationship between Barbie dolls and their human owners is delicate, so it’s best not to think too deeply about how it all works.

California shatters Barbie’s sense of self while strengthening Ken’s. Confronted with the reality of how patriarchy shapes the human world, Barbie realizes that she and her fellow dolls may not be as inspiring as they think.

Greta joins au courant

on Barbie’s encounter with a real person comment: The all-male executive suite Mattel (with Will Ferrell as CEO); Sasha (Ariana Greenblatt) as a teen whose disdain for Mattel dolls is matched by fascism Sasha’s mother, Gloria (America Ferrera), is a Mattel secretary with an insatiable love of toys.

Those worried that this movie will uncritically promote Handler’s invention need not worry. Barbie lives up to its early tagline: “If you love Barbie…if you hate Barbie, this movie is for you.”

However, this mission comes at a price. There’s a tension between Gerwig’s struggle to keep Barbie fun while using the emotional skills from her previous projects to enrich her source material. There is a tension. After an unexpected detour separates her from Ken, Barbie heads home, ready to resume her perfect routine. But her return was gloomy. Barbie returns to see Ken transform the Barbie kingdom with his newfound knowledge of patriarchy.

The movie largely avoids familiar territory (I’m thinking of Life-Size in particular, Disney’s early days—whether it’s experimenting with the doll-human interaction thing) or being the ones it pokes at because of Gerwig and Noah Baumbach’s clever script, with wink jokes throughout. And yet, moments that don’t just jeer and laugh with the crowd are crammed into long, vital monologues, each recited, undercutting the impact of their message. These gestures feel politically hollow because the reality is that a film with this mission cannot do it all.

In some respects, Barbie

builds upon Gerwig’s work in Bird On top of the themes explored in and Little Women . The film follows the tortuous journey of self-definition and the volatile relationship between mother and daughter. It’s full of questions that plague artists and women caught in a category-obsessed society.

The tension between Barbie as object and subject is especially felt through Robbie’s performance. The heightened awareness of the Barbie doll plays out in the actress’ expressive eyes, which are gradually taxed by the forces of the human world. Her appearance tells us something, too: Robbie moves mechanically in Barbieland because she’s a toy, but who’s to say she’s less rigid in the real world?

No matter how clever Gerwig does Barbie

is, a sense of foreboding hangs over the whole practise. The director manages to carve her signature and extract deeper themes from a rigid framework, but the sacrifices to the story are obvious. Barbie’s messy politics and flat emotional landing suggest this photo is ultimately for a brand.

If the future of movies isn’t blocked by

Mattel’s franchise ambitions . After all, we can’t learn all the humanistic lessons from corporate toymakers.

Full credits

Publisher: Warner Bros. Production companies: Quansheng Films, LuckyChap Entertainment, NB/GG Pictures, Mattel
Cast Cast: Margot Robbie/ Ray Ann Gosling / America Ferrera / Ariana Greenblatt / Kate McKinnon / Issa Rae / Rhea Perlman / Will Ferrell Alexandra Shipp/ Emma McKee/ Harry Neff/ Dua Lipa/ Simu Liu/ Kingsley Ben-Adil/ Helen Mirren/ John Cena, Michael Cera
Director: Greta Gerwig

Screenwriters: Greta Gerwig, Noah Baumbach Producer: Big David Heyman, Margot Robbie, Tom Ackley, Robbie Brenner

Executive Producers: Greta Gerwig, Noah Baumbach, Enon Kretz, Richard Dixon, Michael Sharp, Josh McNamara, Courtney Valenti, Toby Emmerich, Kate Adams Director of Photography: Rodrigo Prieto

Production Designer: Sarah Greenwood

Costume Designer: Jacqueline Duran Music: Mark Rosen, Andrew Wyatt
Edit: Nick Houy
Casting: Alison Jones, Lucy Bevan
Rated PG-13, 1 hour 54 minutes

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