Barbie Review – Life is Plastic, It’s FANTASTIC

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1959 was an important year; The US gained Alaska and Hawaii as the 49th and 50th states, Fidel Castro rose to power in Cuba, Nasa introduced its first set of astronauts to the world and Mattel released the first Barbie doll. Though its hard to compete with Hawaii and astronauts when looking at impactful moments in the long history of the United States, Barbie has remained an unwavering and important figure. Astonishingly, there are over forty movies in her filmography, yet Greta Gerwig’s Barbie marks the iconic blonde’s first foray into the world of live-action summer blockbusters, and she lands with a bombastic and energetic splash.

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Barbie Plot

Barbieland is a beautiful and magical place where Barbies rule the world. Everyday is perfect, filled with endless games of beach volleyball and expertly choreographed dance routines. But when stereotypical Barbie (Margot Robbie) starts suffering from unexplainable defects like flat feet, cellulite and thoughts of death, she realizes she must venture into the real world to find answers. Ken (Ryan Gosling) joins along for the adventure and neither of their lives will ever be the same.

Barbie
Simu, Liu, Ryan Gosling and Margot Robbie

The Critique

As a 36 year old man, Barbie wouldn’t typically be a movie I was fighting to get to the theaters to see. But when the project was first announced and I learned that Greta Gerwig would be directing and writing the script along with Noah Baumbach, it immediately shot to the top of my most anticipated films of the year. The real life couple — whom have two children together — have been collaborating since 2010’s Greenberg where they first met. Their combined talents and unique vision instilled me with an unwavering confidence that we would see a version of the iconic doll unlike anything to ever grace the screen before, and I was not disappointed.

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Barbie, much like The Lego Movie, proves that toys can successfully be adapted into cinematic spectacles for the whole family when the right talent is involved. And talent is something this movie is overflowing with. The cast is unstoppable. There was no doubt that Robbie was born for the role, but some online scuttlebutt speculated that Gosling was too old to play the part of Ken. I can address those doubts with a single word, “False.” Gosling brings Ken from Barbie’s shadow and thrust him into the limelight with a pitch-perfect and hilariously absurd delivery that just may be his greatest performance yet.

Barbie
Ryan Gosling and Margot Robbie

The film delivers a tongue-in-cheek exploration into the role Barbie has played in the lives of young girls and women over the past several decades. And while its message can come across a bit strong and straight forward at moments, it’s an important topic that continues the mission and purpose of the doll in a different medium. From toy to big-screen, the most iconic doll in existence is here to help young girls realize their full potential, encourage them to dream big, and to understand that there is still a long way to go towards true equality. Perhaps most importantly of all, the film accomplishes this a manner that is fun and entertaining for the whole family.

In Conclusion

Adapting toys to screen is a difficult task that is more often than not fumbled from the start. Movies like Transformers and G.I. Joe put action and explosive spectacle in the forefront in an attempt to hide the fact there isn’t a whole lot of story to tell. Barbie proves that with the right creative minds and acting talent, a strong story can be crafted from even the most basic and simple of premises.

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9/10

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Written by Joshua Ryan

Articles Published: 229

Joshua Ryan is the Creative Coordinator and Head Film & TV Critic for FandomWire. He's a member of the Critics Choice Association and spokesperson for the Critics Association of Central Florida. Joshua is also one of the hosts of the podcast, The Movie Divide.