Greta Gerwig’s “Barbie” starring Margot Robbie and Ryan Gosling is a box-office hit for good reason
A Barbie film featuring Margot Robbie and Ryan Gosling and directed by Greta Gerwig surely came as a surprise to everyone following its announcement. However, months since then and a number of trailers and promotions in between, it seems like Mattel’s almost-two-hour advertisement featuring some of the biggest names in Hollywood worked to perfection—”Barbie” just recently grossed $414.4 million worldwide to the $209.3 million of “Oppenheimer.”
Here’s everything we love about “Barbie.”
Minor spoilers ahead.
Showstoppers Ryan Gosling and America Ferrera
Ryan Gosling, the perfect Ken, simply stole the show. Restless from a lack of acknowledgment from his beloved, and enamored by the idea of the patriarchy, mini-fridges, and horses most importantly, Gosling plays his part to perfection. He is comedic, yes, but hidden beneath the fur and overwhelming masculine frat-boy persona, lies an authenticity unlike any other—it’s almost as if he were a child, crying and lashing out and resorting to the absurd to satiate his desires. And with regards to everything he did in the film, it’s clear that he was all in on the project. If anything, it’s no surprise he’s referred to playing Ken as his greatest role yet.
America Ferrera on the other hand was a welcome surprise. She may not have been a Barbie, but she undeniably stole the show when she delivered a monologue on the tightrope women have to endlessly tread carefully on, to console Robbie’s character. It was perhaps the best scene in the film. Not to mention, it may have drawn out a couple of tears from my eyes; and from the cast too apparently. Director Greta Gerwig shares in an interview with The Atlantic:
“When America was giving her beautiful speech, I was just sobbing, and then I looked around, and I realized everybody’s crying on the set. The men are crying too, because they have their own speech they feel they can’t ever give, you know? And they have their twin tightrope, which is also painful. There’s something about some of these structures that is just, you know, ‘Somebody make me stop!’ That’s sort of, I suppose, the feeling behind Ken.”
Utterly ridiculous (the good kind) and unexpectedly deep
“What is happening?” is a question that was uttered numerously throughout my time watching the film. The movie constantly catches you unaware, with scenes playing out in a manner you would not have expected—case in point, the battle of the kens. It was over the top from the get-go, such that I felt that I just had to shut off my brain and enjoy—it worked. However, because they never cease to surprise, the film, after getting you to relax with all the feel-good energy, suddenly switches gears to hit you with scenes that will undoubtedly set you toward an existential crisis.
From a visual standpoint, the film does not care much for realism (as it should) and perfection. At times, the background used, or the scenes with Stereotypical Barbie floating down from her dream house looked as if it came straight out of the 2000s, albeit, beautifully done. After all, the film is literally about a fictional world; there’s no sense in limiting themselves to boring reality.
At this point, it’s clear that “Barbie” is not your typical movie that was naturally conceived by a surge of inspiration from writers, directors, and producers. No, it’s a venture sponsored by Mattel to increase its stock. And thankfully, those behind the creative side of it did not limit themselves to that.
“Barbie” understands the unlikely pairing they have on their hands; a film that is trying to explore and deliver messages of feminism, identity, and purpose, through the use of a well-established IP from a company that arguably does not really care much for these. At certain instances in the film, there would be times that characters would poke jokes at Mattel themselves—most notably through Will Ferrell who plays the company CEO—about how they cover up their profit-centric mindset with a facade that is driven to inspire women all over the world.
The most memorable of these jokes however, was when Stereotypical Barbie was lamenting about how ugly she had become, the narrator played by Helen Mirren, butted in, stating that this point could be driven better had they not cast Margot Robbie in the first place.
Social commentary that’s for everyone
At face value, “Barbie” seems like a feminist movie. It is, there’s no denying that, but it’s more than that. Outside discussions on the many struggles women face today and making light of anti-feminism sentiments, lies thoughts and concepts anyone regardless of age, gender, and sex can relate to. It’s a movie for everyone and you don’t need to have played with a Barbie doll to resonate with those within the film.