Movies Reviews Top

‘Barbie’ is fun, dazzling, empowering

Nicole Luna/YJI

Chester, England, U.K. – After finally seeing Barbie, I can confirm that director Greta Gerwig’s latest film deserves all the hype.

The story centers around ‘Stereotypical Barbie,’ played by Margot Robbie, as she goes on a journey of self-discovery in the real world when things start to go wrong in Barbie Land, accompanied by Ken, played by Ryan Gosling.

The movie playfully pokes at the nostalgia of its audience while also including a relevant conversation about feminism and self-worth. It also acknowledges Barbie’s controversial history of unrealistic body expectations.

I thought this movie was just delightful, with a star-studded cast, filled with A-list celebrities such as America Ferrera and Will Ferrell and but also new actors which are beginning to be recognized for their work such as Emma Mackey and Ncuti Gatwa.

Released Friday, Barbie had a dazzling set design, wonderful screenplay, catchy soundtrack and the right balance of irony and seriousness that the movie needed. There was no question that Gerwig was the right choice of director to pull off this film. She made it comedic, exciting, nostalgic and heartbreaking.

Standout performances within the packed cast include stars Robbie, Ferrera and Gosling.

Robbie perfectly physically embodied Stereotypical Barbie, as many of us simply imagine a beautiful, blond doll. But her comedic timing and meaningful facial expressions had the viewers chuckling in their chairs.

Nicole Luna/YJI

Similarly, her emotional scenes gripped everyone in the cinema and had my friend sobbing in the seat next to me.

Gosling has dominated reviews as the true scene stealer of this movie, and I don’t disagree. Nothing about Gosling’s Ken was subtle. His journey from Barbie’s accessory to sexist patriarchy enforcer to emotional and complex man was certainly a rollercoaster.

While maintaining the fun general energy of the film, Ken’s character also references the relevant conversation about the destabilizing of the “Alpha Male” trope and acknowledgement of men’s mental health and insecurities.

His musical number “I’m Just Ken” was the highlight of his performance and one of the best parts of the film. It was funny, but also portrayed the underlying insecurity and eventual teamwork and friendship of the Kens.

Ferrera gave the best performance of the movie, playing Gloria, an employee of Mattel and mother to Sasha. Ferrera embodies what a lot of women don’t often speak of in motherhood, including loneliness.

Gloria’s monologue about the impossible expectations women are held to in society was the film’s highlight. She came across as so desperate and frustrated that the extensive list of do’s and don’t’s in the monologue would almost be funny if they weren’t so true.

Just like the cast, the artists involved in the soundtrack were also filled with celebrity musicians such as Dua Lipa, Lizzo and Billie Eilish. I found I could enjoy the soundtrack to Barbie more than other films as the movie gave the songs attention in its runtime, rather than have them run in the background of scenes – particularly Lipa’s “Dance the Night” during the dance scene.

The set design of this movie – by Sarah Greenwood and Katie Spencer – added to the excitement of each scene, particularly those in Barbie Land. It was fun to spot all the little details in the overwhelming pink design of this movie.

These include the posters for The Wizard of Oz outside the Barbie cinema and the completely still sea water at the beach. The attention to detail in the set reflected the careful filmmaking that went into this production.

The phenomenal cast, fabulous set design, memorable music all headed by its director led to a movie that was fun, dazzling and empowering. Had it been any other director, the movie would have come out looking quite different.

Gerwig could easily have created another fluffy, family comedy with Barbie’s subject matter, but she took a risk including more modern issues in society and her careful handling of the topics of self-worth, feminism and gender wars paid off.

I will certainly be returning to the cinema to see it again.

Gemma Christie is a Junior Reporter with Youth Journalism International. She wrote this review.

Nicole Luna is a Senior Reporter and Senior Ilustrator with Youth Journalism International. She took the photos for this review.

Read more thoughts on Barbie from YJI:

Leave a Comment