The Reel Review
Stereotypical Barbie discovers both the highs and lows of living in the real world after an existential crisis forces her to leave the seemingly perfect Barbieland. Margot Robbie and Ryan Gosling star in this fantasy comedy based on the iconic fashion doll by Mattel.
Working from a clever and hilarious screenplay she wrote with partner Noah Baumbach, director Greta Gerwig (Little Women, Lady Bird) creates a charming, go-for-broke story that offers up equal doses of delightful silliness and spot-on insight about the influence of gender roles on self-identity. The music is really fun, as is the surreal, pink-infused set design. Robbie gives a nuanced, picture-perfect performance as the increasingly self-aware Barbie, countered by a hilariously scene-stealing Gosling who goes all-in as her nitwit, wannabe boyfriend Ken.
The big-name supporting cast includes a hysterical Kate McKinnon as Weird Barbie, Issa Rae as President Barbie, Rhea Perlman as Barbie’s maker, and America Ferrera (Ugly Betty) as the real-world mom whose identity crisis leads Barbie on her adventure of self-discovery. Promising Young Woman writer/director Emerald Fennell even pops up in a couple of wonderfully awkward moments as Barbie’s perennially pregnant friend, Midge. A couple of gags linger a bit too long, but it is easily forgiven, given Barbie’s sweet, on-the-nose celebration of female empowerment in a male-dominated world.
• Greta Gerwig, Noah Baumbach and Margot Robbie signed onto the project in 2019, following a couple of failed efforts that previously had Amy Schumer and Anne Hathaway slated to star.
• The Barbie Dreamhouse was the inspiration for set designer Sarah Greenwood and decorator Katie Spencer and the use of the specific Pantone 219 shade of pink resulted in an international shortage.
• Dua Lipa, who also appears as Mermaid Barbies in the film, sings the hit song “Dance the Night” from the Barbie soundtrack.