Barbie Movie Review: Isn’t plastic, quite fantastic

Story: Things start changing for Barbie (Margot Robbie) in Barbieland, and she must leave her perfect life to do something about it.

Review: For all practical purposes, Barbieland is pristine. Various iterations of Barbies and Kens live their beautiful lives in blissful ignorance of the real world. But when the quintessential Barbie (Margot Robbie) begins to have unusual thoughts, she is directed by another Barbie (Kate McKinnon) to enter the world of humans and address her existential crisis. However, chaos ensues when Ken (Ryan Gosling) tags along with her on this quest.

Barbie’s production, combined with its costume, art & set design, is picture-perfect, immersing us into the predominantly pastel and particularly pink Barbieland with a plethora of colourful characters. Played by an ensemble cast, some are given substantially more to do, while others are relegated to the backdrop. Even though this is by design, it does make some of these characters slightly redundant, albeit not overbearing. Margot Robbie reminds us of her incredible depth and range as the main character Barbie and is perfectly cast in the lead role. Ryan Gosling is a scene-stealer whose Ken is an unlikely brand of a jerk that draws laughs effortlessly, often at his own expense. However, the ace in the pack is America Ferrera, who is impressive, especially in one memorable monologue that perfectly captures the complex conundrum of women’s equality.

This brings us to the film’s most vital aspect – its writing. Taking a prominently feminist outlook, Greta Gerwig and Noah Baumbach deftly pull off the tricky tightrope act of a self-aware screenplay that hits hard on the nose while being thoroughly entertaining. Using comedy and musical numbers to charm the audience, the message is deliberately heavy-handed. Sure, there’s a looming question of whom this film is aimed at, and ‘Barbie’ is certainly not just for those who’d play with these dolls. Slathered with satire that eventually sheds off its sugar-coat, this film decisively takes the patriarchal bull by the horns. Quite the risk by toymakers Mattel, Gerwig’s style meets substance with her direction that dissolves all debate of ‘Barbie’ being a corporate cash grab as it will undoubtedly tip-toe its way to the front row of awards ceremonies.

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