The Barbie Review:
A DUAL PERSPECTIVE REVIEW OF THE BARBIE MOVIE
BY: YANDE & KHOUMIE
Ladies and gentlemen, toys and girls, She’s everything. He’s just Ken. The better half of Babenhiemer has been in cinemas for a while now and we definitely didn’t wait for it to hit the 1 billion mark before writing this. From your cinephile Barbie and Ken, join us as we go on an adventure to discover what lies beyond Barbieland.
In a world where cinematic landscapes are often dominated by superheroes and more Star Wars sequels, “Barbie,” directed by Greta Celeste Gerwig, emerges as a refreshing and thought-provoking exploration of identity, self-discovery, and the intricate dynamics of gender roles. The film takes a daring leap into uncharted territory, using the iconic Barbie doll as a metaphorical vessel to deliver profound insights into the human experience.
Barbieland is a matriarchal utopia where stereotypical Barbie and a vast variety of other Barbies’ live. They hold occupations like doctors, lawyers, and legislators in contrast to their Ken counterparts, who spend their days lounging on the beach. Stereotypical Barbie is having a dance party when she suddenly starts to worry about dying. She wakes up the next morning depressed and going through unexpected menopause-related physical changes. She meets Weird Barbie, a misfit in the community who reveals that everyone in Barbieland is a toy. She must enter the real world and locate her owner if she is to recover from her unidentified illness.
Ken learns that “men rule the world” while also learning about America’s patriarchal structure. He then gets the other Kens to take control of Barbieland and create their own patriarchy. Stereotypical Barbie becomes despondent as a result of the Barbie’s demoralisation and swift relegation to subordinate positions as maids, housewives, and girlfriends. The Barbies’ are inspired to fight back against the Kens and retake Barbieland with the aid of Sasha, Gloria, Weird Barbie, Allan, and other abandoned Barbie toy lines. As a result, the Kens start a war on the Barbieland beach. After the two sides agree to a truce, the Barbies’ swiftly take back control of the business, which causes Ken to lose it. Stereotypical Barbie and Ken both express regret to one another.
Although she reminds him that even though she is not in love with him, he can still form his own identity, she acknowledges that her failure to handle his courtship caused him to rebel. Stereotypical Barbie, who is once again in conflict over her future role, meets with Mattel’s CEO before Ruth Handler steps in and explains Barbie’s history to her, pointing out that while she was initially inspired by her daughter to become a doll, women throughout history have served as her primary source of inspiration. Stereotypical Barbie is brought to tears by this and asks Ruth to change her into a person so that she can return to the real world.
Barbie is a movie that is full of symbolism from your movie references, existential crisis and tackling the conversations of matriarchy/patriarchy. It was one huge rollercoaster and I loved every second of it.
Unless I am mistaken nearly every scene in Barbie is either paying homage to another movie or recreating an entire scene from an iconic movie. A few that might stand out are the Red pill-Blue pill moment (The Matrix) in which stereotypical Barbie has to decide between the high heel and scandal. In this case the high heel means staying in Barbieland and the scandal means venturing into the human world to find a remedy to her unidentified illness.
Another standout scene is “the giant blowout party with all the Barbies, planned choreography and a bespoke song”. Basically the whole dance number is homage to Saturday Night Fever particularly John Travonta’s dances.
The opening scene is amazing; it pays homage to the movie 2001: A Space Odyssey by recreating the monolith scene, in which the Barbie doll is used as a representation of important evolutionary moments. Basically Barbie marks a crossover where little girls no longer want or rather have outgrown playing mummy with their baby dolls. Using the idea of Barbie as a symbol of evolution is brilliant in my opinion, because Barbie has greatly influenced pop culture and the thoughts and beliefs of people.
Other references include The Wizard of Oz, Clueless, Grease, West Side Story and many more. In short, Barbie is a movie about movie references.
Even though it’s a movie about movie references there’s still so much more to it, like the whole storyline of stereotypical Barbie discovering the human world is not one matriarchal utopia.
Barbie who resides in Barbieland has a perfect life. Her world is full of pink and has never had a bad day in her life. The first time in her entire life she ever thinks of death, things start to go downhill. I mean, this right here is a valuable lesson of how our thoughts affect us…
Remember to always try and think positive and as you read this I’m sending you positive vibes.
Cinephile Barbie & Ken
With one thought of death, Barbie went from having a perfect routine day to experiencing what some of us call just another day. As I was watching this scene, at first it seemed very ridiculous like it’s just a bad day, everyone has those, at least once a week but when you think about it a bad day for Barbie is the same as a rainy day for a fish, because it’s never happened to her.
Because it’s something unheard of in Barbieland it’s eventually diagnosed as an unidentifiable illness, the other Barbie’s tell Barbie to go and see weird Barbie. I guess being weird automatically makes you a gatekeeper for answers that are out of the ordinary. Long story short, she has to travel to earth to find the girl she’s linked to in order to find a cure.
Before I go any further I should probably mention Ken. Well there’s really not much to say about, I’m not really sure where he lives in Barbieland I want to say at the beach because his occupation is beach (whatever that means) I guess cinephile Ken can shed some light on that. Unlike Barbie who has a great day every day, Ken only has a great day if Barbie looks at him.
So back to Barbie, she goes to earth and Ken tags along. When they arrive on earth they notice a change in atmosphere, the earth people are staring at them and they both start experiencing things they’ve never experienced.
Barbie: Why are these men looking at me?
Ken: Yeah, they’re also staring at me.
In short, Barbie is now learning the feeling of being objectified and Ken is experiencing what it means to be noticed by other people.
Barbie does some psychic thing to find the girl which leads her to a high school where she meets Sasha. Sasha is a gen z who is a feminist, I did not like Sasha. I understood her goals and the cause she’s trying to promote. However, I do not like how she goes about it and for the most part she practically shames anyone who does not align with what she believes a feminist is.
While Barbie is up and about Ken is exploring the world and learns that men rule the world. This is a lesson he channels into his personality.
After being shamed by Sasha, by telling Barbie she’s not the feminist icon she thinks she is, Barbie has a breakdown and while sitting on a bench in front of the high school a black car appears and says they are from Mattel. Since Mattel is the manufacturer of Barbie dolls, Barbie felt safe to go with them in the hopes that they will fix whatever is going on with her.
As she arrives at Mattel she finds out that it’s not an all female run organization instead it’s run by men. As she realizes that no managerial position is held by a woman, Barbie asks if any woman has power in the company Aaron (Connor Swindells) who is an intern states “I’m a man without power. Does that make me a woman?”
During Barbie’s whole earth experience she comes to the realization that she’s not the feminist symbol she thought she is as Sasha puts it ‘Barbie sets the feminist movement backwards’, also earth is not all rainbows and unicorns basically it’s a world that doesn’t really uphold the matriarchal values that she’s known her whole life.
Barbie manages to connect to the girl who she’s linked to who is Gloria Sasha’s mother and afterwards the 3 of them head to Barbieland. As they arrive in Barbieland the soon discover that Ken has turned Barbieland into a patriarchy based on a Rocky/Sylvester Stallone persona. It was at this point Barbie went full-on existential crisis. While having a full-on breakdown about how her life is falling apart this happens
Barbie: I’m not pretty anymore
Narrator Speaks: note to filmmakers ‘Margot Robbie is not the actress to get this point across’
While watching the whole transformation of Barbieland to Kenland or was it is Kendom it sort of hits you that as much as it was about Ken’s fascination with horses it’s also about Ken trying to make Barbie realize he just wants to be seen and valued by her. Looking at Ken’s journey from being ‘and Ken’ to ‘I’m just Ken’ to being ‘Kenough’ it was wholesome because it’s very rare to see the narrative of a man trying to discover his true self and realising that he doesn’t need anybody to remind him that his more than enough.
Well trying to help Barbie go through her existential crisis Gloria in my opinion gives one of the best monologues about what it’s like being a woman in an every day society and she says:
It is literally impossible to be a woman. You are so beautiful, and so smart, and it kills me that you don’t think you’re good enough. Like, we have to always be extraordinary, but somehow we’re always doing it wrong.
You have to be thin, but not too thin. And you can never say you want to be thin. You have to say you want to be healthy, but also you have to be thin. You have to have money, but you can’t ask for money because that’s crass. You have to be a boss, but you can’t be mean. You have to lead, but you can’t squash other people’s ideas. You’re supposed to love being a mother, but don’t talk about your kids all the damn time. You have to be a career woman but also always be looking out for other people.
You have to answer for men’s bad behavior, which is insane, but if you point that out, you’re accused of complaining. You’re supposed to stay pretty for men, but not so pretty that you tempt them too much or that you threaten other women because you’re supposed to be a part of the sisterhood.
But always stand out and always be grateful. But never forget that the system is rigged. So find a way to acknowledge that but also always be grateful.
You have to never get old, never be rude, never show off, never be selfish, never fall down, never fail, never show fear, never get out of line. It’s too hard! It’s too contradictory and nobody gives you a medal or says thank you! And it turns out in fact that not only are you doing everything wrong, but also everything is your fault.
I’m just so tired of watching myself and every single other woman tie herself into knots so that people will like us. And if all of that is also true for a doll just representing women, then I don’t even know.
By the time the movie is ending you come to realize there’s no such a thing as a perfect utopia, Barbieland seemed perfect in the beginning but then you start to notice the flaws and earth is no picnic either. All in all compromise is somewhat the only solution for people to sort of endure living in a society.
Well Barbie is definitely one for the books, as much as it is impossible for every person to love the movie but you will definitely relate to at least one moment in the movie. In the end Barbie and Ken each got a happy ending. Barbie’s journey to the human world actually made her more human than she realized and Ken unleashed his kenergy and realized his kenough.
I am here to completely overthink everything about this movie.
You lot who haven’t watched Barbie are probably wondering why everyone and their cousin’s dog’s cat are flocking to theaters to watch a franchise with an existing target market of little girls who want to be princess mermaids. From the outset, Gerwig masterfully weaves together a narrative that draws inspiration from a diverse range of sources, creating a tapestry of themes that resonate deeply with audiences. At its core, “Barbie” is a journey of enlightenment, likened to the journey of Buddha, an allegory for breaking free from societal confines. If you saw the trailer this should’ve been the First sign that this one wasn’t like the other barbie movies aimed mainly at kids. There was a giant barbie doll standing dead centre of several young girls much like the primates in Stanley Kubrick’s “2001: A Space Odyssey.” which is referenced in the opening sequence of the movie. The film ingeniously uses Barbie’s evolution as a monolithic force guiding young girls to symbolise humanity’s quest for self-realisation.
One of the film’s standout elements is its exploration of the Matrix metaphor, illustrating how newfound knowledge can reshape perceptions. Her heroic call to adventure is triggered when she meets her Morpeus (Kate McKinnon’s Weird Barbie) and takes the “red pill”. Weird Barbie seems to have been excluded from society either for knowing too much or putting a smile on my face because I was responsible for the weird barbies in my house.
Barbie’s departure from the confines of her perfect world signifies the messy yet exhilarating process of self-discovery.
She then puts on her ruby slippers and follows a pink version of Dorothy’s yellow brick road dressed in a checked dress. Her and Ken also drove by a cinema showing the Wizard of Oz. But if she’s Dorothy, who are the rest? Is Ken the tin man?
Upon arriving in the real world Barbie learns she did not liberate women, possibly the opposite. She gets roasted by a modern feminist teenager, we’re not in Kansas anymore.
At first glance this movie looks like it was made for kids but gradually Greta turned it into a learning experience for literally any demographic. She basically made it a Greta Gerwig movie. In the movie it’s made clear early on with Barbie realising she’s not Sasha’s Barbie (not a kids movie), she’s Gloria’s (adult movie). Sasha is there the whole time so there’s a family aspect to it. Gloria is played by Primetime Emmy Award, Golden Globe Award, and Screen Actors Guild Award winner, America Ferera! Whose mainstream career shot up after her role as Ugly Betty.
You need to keep in mind that this is a comedy that pokes fun at everyone, from Mattel to Barbie to all men and women in general. A lot of the jokes were missed. At some point we were the only ones laughing our heads off in the theater and some kids got so upset. The jokes gradually got more mature.
The film’s rich tapestry of ideas is complemented by a star-studded cast, including Ryan Gosling, who delivers a standout performance as Ken. The film humorously satirises hyper-masculinity and hyper-femininity, presenting a comedic yet thought-provoking commentary on societal norms.I prepped for this movie by watching as many Ryan Gosling movies as I could. Yes, I just wanted an excuse to rewatch Blade Runner 2049. Yes, that includes the notebook. No, I didn’t watch the Mickey Mouse Club.
Her pursuit of perfection is a reflection of the unrealistic standards set by society. Greta cleverly juxtaposes Barbie’s struggles with those of the Kens, magnifying the societal pressure men face in their quest for masculinity. Ken is you, he is an exaggerated 21st century man. Anxious, confused, chasing women who don’t care about him. He discovers his own will-to-power. He then decides to bring this knowledge back to his fellow Ken-folk.
The accusations of Barbie being anti-male are baseless.The movie has no double-standard about masculinity or femininity. It’s so explicitly a film that hates systems and hierarchies as opposed to any one particular gender. Gerwig clearly makes the point that the Kens in Barbieland, under the matriarchy, are unable to forge identities for themselves and must rely on women for their self worth and that this is bad. Ken’s enlightenment is realising that a world can exist where his male identity can prosper. Being affirmed in his masculinity is what sets him free. The film views gender as a tool to understand who you are. Seeing male role models and empowered male figures made him want better for himself. But the film recognizes that worshiping and enforcing those standards can be harmful, because they’re unrealistic to live up to. The Barbies had their own unrealistic standards of beauty that ostracised people in the community like Weird Barbie. What empowers Barbies (seeing themselves as powerful and perfect) causes problems in their world, as it does in the Ken-dom and as it does in ours.
The film clearly argues that any gender holding a disproportionate amount of power is an issue. It recognizes how gender can be empowering for self-discovery, and also how it can hold us back. She decides to be human, as the movie pleads for us to recognize the humanity in ourselves that exists apart from our gender.I think it is possible for men to come away from this movie feeling empowered in their masculinity, cause I did. People who say the film is man-hating are deliberately misinterpreting the movie so they can cry about wokeness or they just don’t know how to properly interpret it, and you could tell they pronounce Marggot Robbie’s name with a hard T.
“Barbie in the real world? That’s impossible.”
Barbie was supposed to be WBs attempt to sabotage Christopher Nolan but they ended up doing his marketing for him (Also proving that they don’t care about creators which was why he left in the first place). Barbie is supposed to be just another cash grab IP about a literal commercial product. But Greta ended up making art.
Mattel and Warner obviously missed the reason why Barbie did so well and are now planning to start a toy cinematic universe with a Hot wheels movie in the works.
Instead of given in to whatever they make next consider gifting me the
“Im Kenough” jumper for about $50, the same one Ken wore in his final part of the movie.
The film’s aesthetic merits are equally remarkable,the costume department did an amazing job even outside production, making sure every era of Barbie made an appearance.The hand-drawn backdrops lent a sense of realism to the fantastical Barbieland. Other movies blow the budget on fancy CGI to give interns nightmares, the Barbie crew used the production budget to contribute to the international supply of pink paint. The film’s references to classic cinema, such as “Grease” and “The Truman Show,” deepen its narrative layers, inviting cinephiles into an engaging and multi-dimensional cinematic experience. If you care about cinema, this is cinema!
Dua lipa and even John Cena make appearances. Dua Lipa also performed “Dance the night” for the movie’s soundtrack, other big names did the same like Billie Eilish,Ava max,Tame Impala and of course Mr Gosling himself with “I’m just Ken!” Which is rivaled only by “Peaches” by Jack Black. I’m just Ken
“Barbie” carefully navigates the delicate balance between comedy and profound introspection, leaving me with a renewed appreciation for the art of storytelling. Greta’s directorial prowess shines through as she crafts a visually stunning, thematically rich, and emotionally resonant exploration of the human condition. As “Barbie” shatters the billion-dollar milestone, it’s evident that Gerwig’s innovative approach to storytelling and her unwavering commitment to authenticity could pave the way for a new era in cinema.
“If you don’t like Barbie this is the movie for you.”
This is the third movie Greta has solo directed (the other two are Lady Bird and Little Women ) have been nominated for 3 Oscars. She is the highest-grossing female director. I can easily see multiple oscars going home on that night. I couldn’t help but notice so many cast members from Netflix’s Sex Education are in the movie. Turns out Greta and Margot thought it would be funny to cast Margot and Emma Mackey in the same movie because they look alike, Ncuti Gatwa (Eric) and Connor Swindells (Adam). Ncuti is set to play the Fifteenth Doctor. Now we just wait for season 4.
There wasn’t any green screen in Barbieland and all the backdrops were hand drawn giving it a lovely sense of realism that combined with the set design of the dreamhouses maked everything so much more real (as far as doll houses with fake water go). The ocean was plastic and there was absolutely no real physical damage taken by any of the characters or objects.
I know a lot of people took this movie as a meme but comedy is usually based on truth.
“Barbie” also showcases the clash between corporate interests and artistic expression. Gerwig’s persistence in delivering her vision despite industry challenges underscores the film’s underlying message of embracing imperfections and transcending societal expectations. The absence of Aqua’s “Barbie Girl” from the film’s soundtrack due to corporate disputes serves as a testament to the struggles faced by creators. (What is the point?)
Mattel trying to box in Barbie works as a metaphor of society’s attempt to maintain the status quota of gender expectations and “helping” women conform but also as a metaphor for the evil empires having creativity in a chokehold and Barbie (The movie ) successfully outrunning the evil company in cute white cowboy boots. Everything from Mattel’s attempts to box Barbie in to failing to catch her escaping to her being rescued by an employee. Now bare with me here, this could reflet how Barbie could have easily just been the generic politically correct cash grab movie of the month just filling in check boxes WB or Mattel made up, but they gave Barbie a bathroom break and ran all the way out of the building and into Greta’s getaway car power by Mattel’s own money.
Barbenhiemer is art, a love letter to the artistic side of cinema. Finally an actual movie with substance. that in the midst of Superhero fatigue, Indie movies being the only thing looking worthwhile and corporates shipping out productions that feel AI generated with some that actually were… *coughs*, secret wars!
Ken leaves Barbieland and experiences not a villain origin to motivate him to be a power hungry (bad guy). He experiences basic human decency and for the first time he could just thrive as a good looking man in the real world but he chooses to stop fighting with the Kens and teach them how to live and feel like they have worth outside being an accessory. Greta parallels modern men learning a way of life from a specific forum/community and although the way of life they choose is technically productive and has positives it is flawed at the end of the day and teaches an unrealistic lifestyle to inexperienced individuals, at the end of the day you’re just being narcissistic and belittling women go argue with the wall.
“Don’t blame me, blame Mattel. I don’t care.”
Yes this is still about Barbie. An interesting thing to note is that Ken didn’t even turn the tables on the barbies, he doesn’t disrespect their worth but he does see them as objects because up until now those were the extremes he had been exposed to. The Barbie’s use the Kens’ love for Barbies against them. I have to say it, your protagonists actually resort to emotional manipulation. Funny enough, the Kens were shown as emotional pets. At no point did the Barbies show love and compassion. Oftentimes Stereotypical Barbie would treat Kens like annoying lap dogs, no I’m wondering if that has anything to do with Toto from the wizard of oz.
They talk about the Barbies’ interests, try and entertain them with music in an attempt to just interact with the Barbies, they treat them the way they themselves want to be treated, the way we want to be treated. Even after the Barbies trick the Kens into going to war for them they still end up making up and breaking into song because the Kens are inherently more affectionate. Kens can become super friendly with even their worst rivals (Notice how the Kens when with other Kens and no Barbies tend to get violent or competitive). After Ken is finally feeling seen and is getting the connection he longed for, the barbies take back control, shattering his Kendom and this realization sends him into a breakdown.
They see the Disrespect they’ve put the Kens through. After some reflection he realizes he shouldn’t live to simp for barbie but to live for himself. Reminds me of Scott Pilgrim vs the world when Scott loses using a sword formed with the power of love but instead wins using a sword forged through the power of self respect. Both these characters got the perfect ending; realising that he is, that they are, that we are all… Kenough.
Go out in the world and find out who we truly are. Don’t try to find out who you are based on how you feel in university or high school or what your friends think of you. Get your hands dirty out there, join communities and offer and accept support. If you haven’t already you can join our community now!
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