Barbie Review - 'Pretty' Confusing
First of all I liked the Barbie movie. IVisually it was amazing. The clothing and colours and set created a world I was happy to be a part of. I was impressed that the movie touched on the negative image associated with Barbie, such as encouraging unrealistic beauty standards, and there was wit and humour from the opening scene. The movie helped me see Barbie in a new way and I actually believed in the message they were trying to sell us about empowerment. Margot Robbie was casted perfectly and couldn’t have done a better job. ‘Barbie Land’ was a world I actually wanted to be in.
I think the problems started when we left that land because I became confused about what this movie was really about. One minute I thought it was going to be about Barbie experiencing the real world, then I thought it was going to be about fixing the child who played with her, then I thought it was going to be about undoing the harm Barbie has done to the world. Then I thought it was going to be about overthrowing the patriarchy. We jumped from one story line to the next as characters were introduced and then faded to the background. I’m still not sure if the main character development was supposed to be about Barbie or Ken or the young girl who magically changed over the course of the movie. I still don't know what the moral of the story was - was it about accepting your mortality? Believing you are good enough? Becoming whatever you want to be? And why was there a car chase scene? I think the problem is there were too many ideas and none of them landed. It felt perhaps like there were too many cooks in the kitchen when it came to writing.
I also felt the movie was a bit ‘anti men’ at times which I think just recycles the problem we are trying to solve. I also think the writers made a mistake by having’ Barbie Land’ so violated by Ken. I know it's representative of the real world but I just don’t think we needed to feel that here, and I don’t think the land ever really recovered from that. The ending also didn’t leave me with any hope - Barbie seemed to lose her shine as she stepped into the real world which she didn’t seem able to change.
That being said I did like that the writers actually tried. They touched on some pretty significant topics around feminism that can be hard to wrestle, let alone tame, and I’m glad they went there. There were some meaningful moments in the film - like when the mum gave the speech about how we are always being judged for being women - but even this felt copied and pasted from Cynthia Nixon’s speech 'Be a Lady They Said'. Ultimately this is the problem I have with the Barbie movie - I just don’t know how much they really believe in their message of feminism, or if it was just a politically correct attempt to sell us movies and merch. Whilst at times it felt authentic, at others it felt contradictory - like I don’t understand why they would cast Will Ferrell whom I've never really considered an ally. I think only time will tell how committed the franchise is to this message, and we will be able to see this from the direction Barbie chooses to go from here. I guess what I’m really trying to figure out is, how much of Barbie is fake?