Starring: Margot Robbie, Ryan Gosling, Ritu Arya, America Ferrera, Helen Mirren, Will Ferrell, Ariana Greenblatt
Director: Greta Gerwig
Unless you have been in hiding somewhere, there is a very over-the-top pink mania that has been dominating the global entertainment scene in recent weeks as we prepare for this mega hyped cinematic release this week. Few toys can claim the kind of global recall value that Mattel’s Barbie doll, and to a lesser extent her male companion Ken, have the ability to – love them or hate them, you will most certainly know of them.
We meet Stereotypical Barbie (Robbie) in the overblown pink parallel universe that is Barbie Land. It is in this make-believe world that she enjoys many girls’ nights with her fellow Barbies, including the Pulitzer Prize-winning avatar (Arya) besides a whole array of other professional Barbies that run the fictional land.
Barbie wakes every morning to a glorious world of sunshine and parties, being devotedly pursued by Ken (Gosling) even as she scurries away in her gravity defying high heels. All seems hunky dory in this blissful Barbie Land until she is inadvertently hit by some deeper thoughts about life and death.
There is only one recourse left for Barbie to hold on to her Stereotypical identity – to head into the real world to find the source of her existential dilemmas and reset the make-believe landscape. It is here, in sunny California, that she encounters Gloria (Ferrera) and her daughter Sasha (Greenblatt) who emerge as the source of all her discontent. Them and pesky Ken, who insists on joining her on her quest and ends up with his very own epiphany that would have damaging consequences for Barbie Land. Will Barbie slip not-so-comfortably back into her impossibly high heels to become Stereotypical again or will her journey into the real world transform things irrevocably?
With a tongue-in-cheek voiceover by Helen Mirren as the narrator, this candy floss ride through Barbie Land has much in store. In its subversive tone to address the anti-feminist associations many have with the childhood toy, the film manages to cover impressively vast ground – the irony of our modern world that often only pays lip service to women’s rights, the misogyny that makes it a struggle for women to truly achieve their full potential and how men also can have mental health issues that often go unnoticed amid patriarchal constructs.
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Using a faux frothy approach to get some of these heavy-duty subjects across works at many levels, with the surprise star of the show being Ken rather than Barbie. So, whether you were one of those who loved dressing up your Barbies or mutilating them, or indeed never bothered with them at all, this musical and sunny ride will most certainly appeal to one and all.