Barbie – REVIEW

Barbie – REVIEW
Image: Margot Robbie as BARBIE. Image: film still

The marketing around this movie is unprecedented. They have literally painted towns pink all over the globe. If you search “Barbie”, “Margot Robbie”, “Ryan Gosling” or “Greta Gerwig” on Google, the search results page is tinted pink and animated with pink star bursts. There are endless Barbie related promotions, from food deals to a human-sized Barbie Dream House that you can actually rent on Air B’nB.


All this to publicise a film? Well, not quite. Toy behemoth and maker of all things Barbie, Mattel, is the financier of the Barbie movie. Think about the film as a one hour 45 minute ad and the film’s promotion as a Mattel sales campaign for their full Barbie range.

BARBIE. Image: film still

But does Barbie — the movie — live up to the phenomenal hype? Yes and no.

The world-building is excellent, with its retro colour palette of pastels and fluro. There are lots of winks and knowing references; you don’t need to be a Barbie aficionado to get the visual gags. There are some terrific one-liners, too. The whole film is deliberately meta and doesn’t take itself too seriously – except when it does (sigh).

BARBIE. Image: film still


The actual plot and the script are the weakest parts of this high concept film. There are a lot of different ideas trying to establish themselves as the theme. It’s also very heavy-handed on the social messaging, addressing the persistent criticism of Barbie as a negative female role-model with clumsy, often cringe-worthy remonstration.


There are a few speeches that should have been big moments in the film, could have become memes, but they fall flat because, quite frankly, they’re poorly written and pretty superficial.

Margot Robbie is a well-studied Barbie. Apart from her natural affinity with the impossibly beautiful doll, Robbie matches the stiff, limited movements in some very funny scenes.

Ryan Gosling doesn’t quite have the synthetic handsomeness and ambivalent sexuality of Ken, choosing instead to ham it up as a hapless hero.


Overall, Barbie is uneven and the script could have used a lot more tightening up, however, it’s definitely a fun film to watch.


In cinemas now

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