Welcome to Barbie Land- a place where everything is incredible, colourful and 100% perfect in every way. In Barbie Land, there is every kind of Barbie and Ken that has ever been created and other Barbie-like dolls that sadly never became a massive success, like Ken’s best friend, Allan (Michael Cera). Here we follow the stereotypical Barbie (Margot Robbie), who is perfectly made and adores everything and everyone around her. Her days are filled with parties, hanging out with friends (mostly other Barbies), and living in a wonderful dream house. She is consistently approached by a handsome beach hunk Ken (Ryan Gosling), who is smitten and eager to impress her.
One day, Barbie wakes up in her dream house but soon finds things around her are different and wrong. Her breakfast is gross, the water in the shower is awful, and she begins to have thoughts that she’s never had before, such as thoughts about dying. Barbie is tipped into a worried frenzy when her feet suddenly become flat! Thankfully, Weird Barbie (Kate McKinnon) has advice for Barbie. Following this advice, Barbie journeys to the real world to discover why these changes have occurred. But Barbie won’t be travelling alone as Ken hides in the back seat of her vintage convertible to provide support. Who knows- his knowledge of the beach might help her. Can Barbie discover the reason for all the strange and unexpected changes happening in her world?
Barbie is based on the famous and popular toy line, which Mattel still produces. It’s no secret that the toy range has had an enormous impact on the lives of many, and experiences will consequently differ from viewer to viewer. I must confess I was more of a Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtle kid, but still, I could never deny the presence of Barbie dolls on shelves and their stunning success of sales, not to mention the massive range and all the variations available. So how does Barbie stack up? Does this concept work on the big screen?
Firstly, without a doubt, the casting choices here are nothing but perfection. Margot Robbie is Barbie, and Ryan Gosling is 100% Ken here. The chemistry the two share on-screen is always a delight. The level of comedy is wacky and random, and some jokes fall into the category of being spoofy. The gags are well-written and well-delivered, particularly by Ryan Gosling. Margot Robbie successfully delivers more drama and heart to the screen, which was also touching and great to see. The visuals here are a knockout. Barbie Land is incredible to see, and every audience member will want to live there, given its creativity, fun and stunning colours. The soundtrack and dance sequences are also entertaining, delightful, and joyous.
Barbie’s plot starts incredibly strong, and it’s impossible not to be curious as to why Barbie’s body, world and thoughts are suddenly being altered and changed dramatically. The film is packed with many themes and messages suited for many viewers. While the many themes and messages are a great concept, and I admire the attempt to reach all audiences, this was also one of my issues with the film. By the third act, the plot feels bloated as it drags on to conclude and wrap up the many viewpoints, subplots, and heartfelt messages, with some moments feeling slightly preachy and forced. I wished the film was more focused on one or two core plot points rather than trying to cover so many bases. The same could be said about what genre Barbie is. At various times it honestly wasn’t sure what it wanted to be and tried every genre apart from horror. There’s a thrilling mystery here with moments of fun, playful romance, and hard-hitting drama. Amidst all this, it’s a downright unexplainable wacky comedy.
Overall, Barbie is a film overflowing with so much. A lot here is exciting and fun, such as the superb performance from Margot Robbie and Ryan Gosling, who have great chemistry on-screen and both own their roles. The world created is excellent and was a significant highlight. Packed with stunning creativity, fun colours, dance sequences and musical numbers, viewers will find plenty to grin at while watching. However, the third act holds this back from being a spectacular feature. By the third act, the film feels extraordinarily full and bloated with the many key messages, subplots, and themes. In return, I began to disengage as the movie dragged on, which was heartbreaking after the strong start full of excitement and mystery. Naturally, opinions about one of the most sublime toys created on Earth, Barbie, will enormously differ, as will what you take away.
Barbie (2023) is Available in Australian Cinemas from July 20th!