A Review of the New ‘Barbie’ Movie

She’s everything, he’s just Ken. Our intern went to see the new live-action version of the Mattel classic — this is what she thought.
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Photograph courtesy of Warner Bros Pictures

Barbie, the classic Mattel creation, has been a childhood favorite for many, including me. Barbie has, and always will be, a piece of my childhood — from watching Barbie Swan Lake to playing with Barbie, Ken, and the whole family.

In Barbie, the long-awaited Greta Gerwig film which was released yesterday (July 21, 2023), the doll and her world and brought to life through everything from the Barbie Dreamhouse to classic pink everything, and multiple variations of Barbie, which include Anchor Barbie, President Barbie, Scientist Barbie, and so much more.

The film was directed by Greta Gerwig and features big names including Margot Robbie as Barbie, Ryan Gosling as Ken, Will Ferrell, Michael Cera, Issa Rae, and others. I, alongside some of my Barbie-inspired friends, saw the movie on July 20 at Emagine Theater.

The movie was a perfect way to enjoy a girl’s night out.

Spoilers Ahead!

The film begins with a reference to 2001: Space Odyssey, as narration done by Helen Mirron narrates the history of Barbie and how she came to be the perfect toy for little girls. Then it switches to a pink-filled Barbie Land filled with Barbies, Kens, and then simply Allan.

Barbie is living her Barbie Dreamhouse life in Barbie Land with the other Barbies and Kens, swimming and having dance parties. Her life is perfect and stereotypical — hence the name “Stereotypical Barbie,” which is given to Margot Robbie’s character.

The Beach, which is designated as Ken’s career (besides being Barbie’s boyfriend, of course), is where Ken and his multiples try to catch waves and impress a Barbie or two. The sole purpose of Ken, it seems, is to be there for Barbie. As it says, “she’s everything, he is just Ken.”

The film takes a turn when Barbie starts to have unexpected thoughts of dying, her feet turn flat, and she even develops cellulite. Barbie then heads over to Kate McKinnon’s Barbie, aka “Weird Barbie,” to figure out why she is experiencing these things. Barbie realizes she needs to go into the real world and find her human to bring back the childhood bliss of playing with Barbie dolls.

And so, Barbie and Ken set off into the real world, using tandem biking, boating, snowmobiling, and driving a car to get to Los Angeles, which is where Mattel headquarters are. The goofy and loveable CEO of Mattel, played by Will Ferrell, sets off to find Barbie and put her in a box.

As she explores the real world, she realizes that men have more of an advantage — there’s no all-female Supreme Court (like in Barbie Land), and men have the upper hand — while Ken learns about the patriarchy.

The movie explores many messages and themes including sexism, friendships, mother-daughter relationships, femininity and masculinity, and even the thought of life and death in general. The movie also reflects on how women feel and also how they fit in.

Barbie is not explicitly for kids, it is rated PG-13 with themes of fighting, the patriarchy and what it means to be a girl. It has caused controversy amongst many as it explores different topics, what it means to be Barbie and her role in the world, but I simply deem this movie in my top five movies.

For showtimes and to learn more about the new Barbie movie, visit barbie-themovie.com. And for move film and TV news, check out HourDetroit.com.