The results are in. And Barbie dominated the Box Office in its opening weekend, beating out Oppenheimer, which also did quite well. I’m not surprised. My Facebook feed was inundated with gals in pink celebrating their cinematic foray into Barbie Land, plus more than a few hardy souls leaning into the Barbenheimer double-feature mystique. The marketing obviously paid off. But the main reason both films did well is… shocker!… they are both very good, in very different ways. For many, the idea of a movie based on a decades-old doll hawked by Mattel seems totally lame. But you have to factor in several key points: the film is directed by Greta Gerwig (Little Women, Lady Bird), written by Gerwig and her partner Noah Baumbach (Marriage Story, Mistress America), stars notably charming and versatile actors Margot Robbie as ‘stereotypical Barbie’ and Ryan Gosling as himbo Ken, features a talented supporting cast that includes America Ferrera, Kate McKinnon, Issa Rae, Michael Cera and many, many more, and even has Dame Helen Mirren narrating the story, making it sound a bit like Barbie does Bridgerton.
The premise is simple but the message is profound. ‘Stereotypical Barbie’ is living the good life in Barbie Land, where every day is a great day for an assortment of Barbies– all strong women who are similar, yet also unique. Life is one long girls night party at Barbie’s dream house! Until stereotypical Barbie suffers an existential crisis. She’s having dark thoughts, and there’s cellulite on her thighs! She seeks counsel from Weird Barbie (McKinnon) who directs her to the portal into the real world (aka Los Angeles) to find the girl who’s messing with her plastic counterpart. Ken stows away in Barbie’s convertible and is shocked to discover that in the ‘real world’ guys do more than “beach”. They have power! It’s a patriarchy! He’s dumbfounded, then bent on rallying the Kens to change the balance of power in Barbie Land.
The rest is best left for discovery by those who didn’t go to opening weekend and still plan to see the film in all its quirky glory. Have fun. Get dolled up – wear pink. Enjoy the campy musical productions. Embrace your imperfections. All that good stuff.
Arty Chick’s two cents: When I first saw all the Barbie pinkness taking over everything in creation, I was a bit repulsed by its marketing. I wasn’t a Barbie kid or a pink lover by any stretch. However, as soon as I saw who the director was, the wonderfully inventive Ms. Gerwig, I was totally on board. It’s a fun, feminist flick that entertains while bashing the patriarchy. And what could possibly be wrong with that? Margot Robbie is the perfect Barbie, and Ryan Gosling as accessory Ken gives a great comic performance. Go with some gal pals or take your very own Ken along. Just be prepared to be surrounded by people in every shade of pink. I was not one of them. I dug through my entire wardrobe and could not find even a hit of pink for the excursion.
Barbie opened exclusively in theaters on July 21. It scored the biggest opening weekend ever for a movie directed by a woman. Go Greta!