Barbie is fun, subversive, and a self-aware movie that achieves more than expected

by Gordon Shelly

I did not expect greatness from Barbie, the way I expected it from Christopher Nolan’s Oppenheimer. And, in a similar yet opposing way, while the expectations of the latter fell short, the expectations for Barbie were far exceeded.

Many people will dislike this movie without ever having watched it. They don’t like Barbie. They think it’s for kids. It’s too “woke.” Whatever the case may be, there will be haters for this movie, no matter what.

Originally titled Barbie and Ken. Yes, with the “and Ken” crossed out, it simply became Barbie, but is just as much about her sidekick, Ken. In an Elf-like adventure, Barbie must leave her fantasy Barbie world and enter the real world on a heroic journey of self-awakening. Of course, she is followed by Ken, who also awakens to a new reality.

When I first heard this movie was being green-lit, I thought, huh, that will probably be pretty dumb, and I had no interest in following it or watching it for that matter.

Then I saw the first teaser and I thought, huh, doesn’t look as bad as I thought, even kind of funny, actually. But I still had no interest in going to see it, let alone reviewing it.

Then the advertising push came. Trailers. Clips. Interviews. Now, I was interested.

How can this movie possibly be good? It has no right to be.

However, writers Greta Gerwig and Noah Baumbach manage to create something that is wildly entertaining, very sincere, extremely intelligent, and massively entertaining – it’s what I love about movies, especially when and where I least expect it.

Barbie accomplishes the unique task of not only making fun of its subject matter but simultaneously embracing the love and nostalgia America has for these characters. Barbie is an oxymoron of storytelling. It’s a bittersweet, awfully good, and an original copy, jumbo shrimp all wrapped up in a Barbie package of opposites.

This movie shouldn’t work as well as it does, but it does.

Had Gerwig and Baumbach written this and handed it off to a lesser director, it probably would have been a mess. However, by keeping it in Gerwig’s hands, the story holds true to the original vision (I imagine).

Barbie is the most fun I’ve had in the theatre in a long time. It’s a movie that exceeds expectations, understands its audience, and tries to be exactly want it wants to be.

It is a movie well-worth the watch, whether you have ever had a Barbie or not (I never did).

Gordo’s Grade: A-