The Barbie movie is a headfirst dive into girlhood, soaked in a sunny pink depression. And it’s absolutely fantastic. Over a year anticipation had built, which included people making special pink outfits to see the film and creating just about anything in bright Barbie pink.
The film is visually stunning with some fantastic set and costume designs. The content of the film is also delightful — a plastic fantastic addition to a long line of stories about an artificial being wanting to be human.
The film takes place in a fictional Barbieland where there are many different Barbies, many different Kens, and one Allan —Ken’s best friend who shares his clothes (Michael Cera). In Barbieland, the Barbies live in a high-functioning society with no problems, where they do whatever they please. The Kens are … also there.
The basic premise of the film follows “Stereotypical” Barbie (Margot Robbie) as she slowly becomes more abnormal as compared to the other Barbies. After consulting with “Weird” Barbie (Kate McKinnon), “Stereotypical” Barbie ventures outside of Barbieland to the real world, but not before “Beach” Ken (Ryan Gosling) can stow away and join her journey.
From there “Stereotypical” Barbie faces her own existential crises, the Mattel corporation, Ken discovering patriarchy, a mother-daughter duo with a strained relationship, and the messiness of humanity.
Throughout the film, Barbie struggles with her feelings. It’s her feelings of death and sadness in the beginning of the film which lead to her feeling othered because she is the only Barbie in Barbieland who has thoughts of death. In the real world, she cries for the first time after being disliked for the first time. After discovering the Kens taking over Barbieland, she gives up and experiences nihilism. All of this highlights what I think is the other main theme of the film: growing up.
On her journey throughout the film, Barbie goes from having a youthful joy, to experiencing middle school bullying, to becoming a woman and dealing with the issues that human women face. Barbie has an expedited coming-of-age, and (by the end) she chooses to embrace it.
The biggest issue with the film was that it was too short. The section of the film about Barbie discovering the real world should have been so much longer. The real world should have been so much longer. Even though I appreciate how silly this film was in general, what I appreciated the most were the calmer, more meaningful moments, like Barbie’s first tear, or her talking to the old woman at the bus stop.
The Barbie movie is oddly one of my favorite coming-of-age films, and definitely hit some of the deeper moments. It felt like the film’s main purpose was in portraying girlhood as girls transition into adulthood but veiled through the metaphor of a doll becoming human. All in all, “Barbie” is an amazing trip down the pink brick road.