She’s everything. He’s just Ken.
She’s everything. He’s just Ken.


D: Greta Gerwig

Warner Bros / Mattel / Heyday / LuckyChap / NB/GG (David Heyman, Margot Robbie, Tom Ackerley & Robbie Brenner)

US/UK 🇺🇸🇬🇧 2023

114 mins


W: Greta Gerwig & Noah Baumbach

DP: Rodrigo Prieto

Ed: Nick Houy

Mus: Mark Ronson & Andrew Wyatt

PD: Sarah Greenwood

Cos: Jacqueline Durran

Margot Robbie (Barbie), Ryan Gosling (Ken), America Ferrera (Gloria), Ariana Greenblatt (Sasha), Rhea Perlman (Ruth Handler), Kate McKinnon (Weird Barbie), Michael Cera (Allan), Will Ferrell (CEO of Mattel)

The runaway summer success of 2023 may well have been one of the biggest hits of the year even without the “Barbenheimer” social media campaign, which came about because this film and Christopher Nolan’s Oppenheimer were merely released the same weekend.

Though Barbie had made the screen in several animated movies, this is the first big budget live-action movie, even earning the funding of Mattel as a production company, resulting in a product placement campaign for the toy & merchandise company in a similar way that worked with 2014’s The Lego Movie, which has quite a similar plot theme.

Margot Robbie was almost born to play this incarnation of “stereotypical Barbie”, living in perfect bliss in Barbieland, a matriarchal society full of various other Barbies of diverse backgrounds, partying and having girls’ night every evening, whilst all the various Kens’ merely exist as an accessory, with even “Beach Ken” (Ryan Gosling) being Barbie’s ‘boyfriend’ in name only.

When Barbie starts having an existential crisis, she visits “Weird Barbie”, an older, messed-up doll (due to being played with too much), who advises her that she needs to leave Barbieland and visit the ‘real world’, where she can meet her owner and find out what’s what.  Ken tags along, and upon realising that men are treated differently into this world, takes that knowledge back to Barbieland and turns that world in its head.

Barbie is a film that has a target demographic who will really enjoy it, and others who will absolutely hate it. For me, I just wanted an entertaining movie and for the most part, it is, though it isn’t without its flaws.  The girl power & messages of feminism weren’t as prominent as I expected them to be, but it wasn’t as funny as I’d hoped either. There’s some smart comedy, but there’s also a lot of goofy humour and some which is quite annoying (Will Ferrell & his henchmen, for example).  Where the film really shines is in the presentation of Barbieland, with vivid production design and costuming that really brings the world to life. The majority of the performances are also highly enjoyable, especially from Margot Robbie & Ryan Gosling, who are usually dependable, but more surprisingly so from Kate McKinnon, who nearly steals the entire movie in her brief scenes.

There’s a lot of good stuff here, but there’s also a lot of silliness & some of the rules that are set up in the universe that it creates really don’t make any sense if you care to pick them apart.  Nevertheless, it’s understandable how it became one of the successes of the year & should be enjoyable entertainment for the entire family.

It isn’t really for me, but I quite expected that going into it.