Barbie review: Get ready to welcome joy back into your life

By Aliya Zuberi

KARACHI: After a certain age, girls grow up and put their beloved dolls away. But in 2023, those very (grown up) girls have gotten a chance to relive the magic that Barbie bought in their lives albeit in a different manner. Greta Gerwig paints the world with shades of pink but doesn’t gloss over the cracks. In her satirical blockbuster hit, she points out all that is wrong with the world but she does so by making it seem so utterly ridiculous that we cannot believe that it is actually happening in the real world! Effortlessly funny and mind bogglingly eye opening, Barbie deserves every positive review it is getting.

Margot Robbie plays stereotypical Barbie. Blond, blue eyed and drop dead gorgeous, she lives in Barbieland where everything is plastic and seemingly fantastic. It is a land run by women where men just exist. Every morning, the barbies wake up looking perfect, get through the day with a smile on their face and never complain about anything. The only outliers in Barbieland are Weird Barbie and Pregnant Barbie. This is deeply symbolic of how women are expected to present themselves. Always made up, always happy and of an acceptable dress size. If one doesn’t fit into that mold, they aren’t accepted.

Margot Robbie looked every bit of the part of stereotypical Barbie. And looks play an important part of the satire. Sure Barbie feels like the world is perfect and she’s empowered, but in reality beyond her looks, she really doesn’t have much going for her. And if we take away her looks and add a bit of cellulite, it’s the end of the world for her! Robbie is a brilliant actor and so it doesn’t come as a surprise that she pulls off her role so well.

But things aren’t going so great for Barbie. Suddenly she wakes up drooling, has to shower in cold water, has dark thoughts of death and is, to the horror of the other barbies, flat footed! Much to her horror, she has to travel to the real world to figure out what’s why she’s malfunctioning. As much as she doesn’t want to make the journey, she’s more irked by the fact that Ken followed her. Audiences relive their childhoods in all the glitz and glam shown on screen which makes barbie barbie. But the existential dread is what brings us back to reality.

Ken (Ryan Gosling) is hopelessly in love with Barbie and doesn’t seem to get the hint that his feelings might not be reciprocated. But, Gerwig makes us question, does Ken really love Barbie or is he in love with the idea of being with Barbie? The only reason he even follows her to the real world is because of an ego clash with the other Ken (Simu Liu). And he doesn’t hesitate to leave her alone in the real world when things get tough.

It’s surprising to think that in a movie that is so light hearted and so funny runs a much deeper thought to it. Barbie doesn’t need philosophical dialogues to make an impression and instead relies on the sheer absurdity to make it even more relatable. How many relationships have we heard of where men who claim they are in love, only look out for themselves? How many women are forced to adhere to what society deems to be a perfect woman? We all have a Ken in our lives and we’ve all been in the place of this malfunctioning Barbie.

As Barbie makes her way into the real world, she realizes just how plastic her life was. Women aren’t in power, are hyper sexualized and there is no equal division of labor. Which is ironic because that’s exactly what the doll was accused of doing. Ken, on the other hand, gets a realization of his own and this is where things start to go seriously wrong with a plot twist we didn’t expect.

Ryan Gosling is the star of the show. Effortlessly funny, he pulls off being the flagbearer of patriarchy so well. There has been a long running joke about how Ryan Gosling took Ken’s plight way too seriously and it shows! His expressions alone make us believe that Gosling wanted Ken to get justice and be more than “Just Ken.” Gosling has received and deserved the praise he has gotten in practically every review of Barbie.

Will Ferell, as the head of Matell (the company behind making the dolls) and his cronies are absolute goofs. But beyond just the comedic element they bring, they also serve as a poignant reminder of how men have been given absolute authority over matters regarding women, which they have no idea about (Roe v Wade is just one example).

Despite the fact that each review had nothing but praises for Barbie, there has been this claim that the movie preaches extreme feminism. It tells tales of a world where women rule and men aren’t needed. But that isn’t true. Barbie doesn’t have a nihilistic approach to life, rather stresses on the fact that it isn’t a question of man or woman but rather it should be man and woman.

Barbie with its catchy soundtrack, star studded cast, humor and deeper meaning is a movie you should definitely not miss out on!

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