Verdict: Margot Robbie and Ryan Gosling lead Greta Gerwig's hilarious, smart, ambitious and bold take on Barbie

  • Margot Robbie, Emma Mackey, Ryan Gosling
  • July 21st 2023
  • Greta Gerwig

Margot Robbie and Ryan Gosling star as live-action versions of the iconic Mattel dolls Barbie and Ken in Greta Gerwig’s comedy.

After months of hype about the ‘Barbenheimer’ summer box office event, Barbie and Oppenheimer have finally arrived in cinemas.

Greta Gerwig’s comedy follows stereotypical Barbie (Margot Robbie), who lives an idyllic life in Barbieland, which is run by women.

She starts to have an existential crisis and worry about dying, so Weird Barbie (Kate McKinnon) advises her to go to the real world to get her malfunction fixed.

Ken (Ryan Gosling) tags along for the ride and their encounter with the real world will change their outlook about society forever.

Barbie is one of the most entertaining films of the year. It is hilarious, with constant laugh-out-loud jokes throughout, genius comedic performances and plenty of visual gags.

It is also wonderful to look at; the Barbieland set is jaw-droppingly impressive, while the colourful costumes are glorious.

The script pokes fun at our patriarchal society, gender roles, the unrealistic beauty standards Barbie set for girls and Mattel’s missteps over the years.

It ambitiously takes aim at a lot of targets using comedy and some statements work better than others.

Gerwig and her co-writer Noah Baumbach have crafted a bold, smart, feminist story, but they go a bit too far while trying to convey how hard it is to be a woman in a patriarchal society. For this reason, the second half isn’t quite as effective as the first.

While that message might be overdone, Gerwig expertly balances Barbie’s meaningful existential questions with silly comedy and the end product is one of the weirdest and most unexpected studio releases in a while.

Robbie is obviously perfect as Barbie from an aesthetic perspective, but she brings far more to the table than that. Barbie has agency, curiosity, emotional depth and serious questions about her place in society.

However, the star of the show is Gosling, who is brilliant as the air-headed Ken. He does not put a foot wrong – everything he does and says is hilarious. Try getting through his musical number with a straight face!

There is a lot going on in Barbie and it will take a few repeat watches to fully appreciate everything – you’ll probably be laughing too much the first time around to pay attention to all the details.

If you think this is just a feature-length advert for a toy doll, you’ll be very much mistaken. This Barbie has a lot to say.

In cinemas from Friday 21st July.

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