Barbie Stars Margot Robbie and Ryan Gosling and is Directed by Greta Gerwig
Review: Greta Gerwig and Margot Robbie deliver on one of the year’s most colorful and sincere trips to the movies. Barbie is a movie that transcends style and set design, offering a visual feast with enough laughs along the way.
Greta Gerwig’s Barbie is a masterful exercise in craft. As one of the most delicately constructed worlds put together on screen this decade, it’s no surprise that Barbie has become a household name for a movie, because it delightfully takes a refreshing spin on the household toy that it’s riffing on.
I had a chance to see Barbie a few weeks back on its opening Thursday, where it played to an eager crowd of moviegoers desperately wanting to get their hands on this candy-coated surrealist comedy. I’ve been a big fan of Gerwig’s work in the past – both directing and acting – and so nearly anything she’s credited on, I’ll seek it out if I can.
And Barbie is certainly worth the praise it’s getting because it infuses the same sense of jubilance and warm energy that blankets each of her previous two releases. Greta Gerwig put together many of the best sets I’ve seen this year, an aspect that I prefer much more here than I did in Little Women in 2019 – mostly because the period piece elements in that film don’t allow her creative prospects to shine like they do here.
She’s also working with a script and cast that offers a more rambunctious tone, elevating the color palettes and worldviews associated with them. Margot Robbie stars as Stereotypical Barbie, and her kinetic energy blends perfectly with the environment she’s set in. Every detail to the movie feels crafted specifically for her and Ryan Gosling (as Ken of course).
The themes of Barbie work well, offering enough to stew on for multiple viewings in the future. Barbie feels she’s losing the invincible, perfect quality that has inhabited her for years. In order to restore her sense of place, she and Ken travel to “The Real Word” to resolve the loose ends tied to her sudden feelings of emptiness.
But Barbie ponders on much more than that, dissecting gender roles in our society to great and effective lengths. The movie is shockingly less blunt and preachy than I anticipated given the narrative structure around it, and it felt gratifying seeing a major blockbuster get this material right. Both Margot Robbie and Ryan Gosling are offered enough screentime and runway to dive deep into their own characters, giving this movie a rewarding and satisfying third act.
Reviews for Films like Barbie (2023)
The supporting cast is great. America Ferrera and Ariana Greenblatt enter the fold when Barbie and Ken leave Barbie Land. Both further advance the thematic density of mother-daughter relationships and help extend this movie beyond Margot Robbie’s take on the titular character. Simu Liu and Michael Cera play another version of Ken and Allan, respectively, and provide a handful of the best laugh lines within the script.
Perhaps the section of the film that lost me slightly was with Will Ferrell’s role as the Mattel CEO – the company in charge of manufacturing Barbie dolls and holding Barbie Land at arm’s length from regular society. The plotline builds another level of artifice on top of what’s already present without enhancing or deepening the overall story. He provides a few chuckles, but the comedy wears thin when the movie ultimately struggles with concluding his character.
Other than that, I thought it was a real hoot boiling with strong levels of film references and craft. It plays well as an ode to the slapstick comedies of the 1940s, as well as the technicolor vibrancy of the decades that followed. Although maybe not my favorite Greta Gerwig movie – which will inevitably be Lady Bird for the foreseeable future – it’s easy to be won over by the breakneck comedic, colorful energy of Barbie.
Watch Barbie on Max and VOD
Barbie Movie Cast and Credits
Margot Robbie as Barbie
Ryan Gosling as Ken
America Ferrera as Gloria
Kate McKinnon as Barbie
Ariana Greenblatt as Sasha
Michael Cera as Allan
Issa Rae as Barbie
Will Ferrell as Mattel CEO
Simu Liu as Ken
Kingsley Ben-Adir as Ken
Emma Mackey as Barbie
Alexandra Shipp as Barbie
Director: Greta Gerwig
Cinematography: Rodrigo Prieto
Editor: Nick Houy
Composer: Mark Ronson
New Movie Reviews from Cinephile Corner
- Ratatouille Review: Brad Bird Directs the Most Unique and Beautiful Pixar Movie Possible
- A Fistful of Dollars Movie Review: Clint Eastwood and Sergio Leone Kick Off Their Iconic Trilogy in Roaring Fashion
- Memory Movie Review: Michel Franco Pens Devastating Film About the Scars in Your Past
- Bonnie and Clyde Movie Review: Warren Beatty and Faye Dunaway Headline Pioneering Crime Film