Barbie (2023)
July 20, 2023 8:17 AM - Subscribe

Barbie suffers a crisis that leads her to question her world and her existence.
posted by ThePinkSuperhero (159 comments total) 36 users marked this as a favorite
I saw it last night: there are things I want to discuss, but I don't want to spoil anything.

If you liked the Lego Movies, this one is on-par among the best, if not better because it's not directly mostly at small children. It's an adult movie. It's also hilarious.
posted by The_Vegetables at 8:18 AM on July 20, 2023 [11 favorites]

The only thing I will say (since you can watch the video on YouTube) is that Niki Minaj song kinda blows, and they use it way too much. The Aqua sample underneath it was a better song. The rest of the songs in the movie are far better. Also neither song actually captures the spirit of the movie, so I see why they didn't use the Aqua song much.
posted by The_Vegetables at 8:33 AM on July 20, 2023 [4 favorites]

Barbie suffers a crisis that leads her to question her world and her existence.
posted by ThePinkSuperhero

You win the internet today.
posted by briank at 8:56 AM on July 20, 2023 [38 favorites]

Also the song that Ken played guitar to was perfect and if it gets retagged by the current generation as a 'cringy domestic violence' song instead of a giant post-grunge pop hit, though it was not actually a number #1 single because they didn't release it as a single, then good!

Last music nugget: If you are a fan of a certain Slanted and Enchanted guy, then check the background closely when he's discussed.
posted by The_Vegetables at 9:47 AM on July 20, 2023 [16 favorites]

In case you're sitting on the fence, let this Fox News Review convince you to go:

‘Barbie’ film ‘forgets core audience’ in favor of trans agenda and gender themes, Christian movie site warns

"The new BARBIE movie forgets its core audience of families and children while catering to nostalgic adults and pushing lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender character stories. Furthermore, the movie was poorly made with multiple premises, losing even the most die-hard fans," the scathing staff review-penned piece began.

[It's an archive link so Fox doesn't get the clicks; clutchable pearls optional]
posted by chavenet at 12:30 PM on July 20, 2023 [17 favorites]

The new BARBIE movie forgets its core audience of families and children while catering to nostalgic adults and pushing lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender character stories.

I didn't know Earring Magic Ken was in this!
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 4:25 PM on July 20, 2023 [9 favorites]

..."catering to nostalgic adults and pushing lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender character stories"...

YAY wait whut nostalgia, ewww?!!
posted by winesong at 4:42 PM on July 20, 2023 [1 favorite]

I was wondering why they didn’t mention the rating, but the site they quoted hasn’t even bothered to review the film yet. Fox kind of jumped the gun.
posted by Selena777 at 7:37 PM on July 20, 2023

EP, I don't wanna spoil anything but YES. Also my dream came true with the Growing-Up Skipper cameo.

and good lord, I thought one of the film's weaknesses was that it was a little too heteronormative - the re-taking of power by the Barbies hinged on the Kens being straight (except for the ones hanging at Weird Barbie's lair). I did want the two main Kens to fall in love because they sure had a lot of heat toward each other, but maybe that stems from my doll-playing history.

I had a couple of other issues as well but still thought it was a fab movie. Saw it at a work screening yesterday afternoon and was kind of overjoyed to see everybody wearing SO MUCH PINK. People don't normally dress up for company screenings.
posted by queensissy at 8:16 PM on July 20, 2023 [18 favorites]

Well, I loved it. This was the first movie I’ve seen in a theater since last fall because of my health problems, and I couldn’t be happier that this was the one to break my streak. I got unexpectedly emotional at the scene where she sees all the home movies, and laughed at so much—the Skipper cameo, the homoerotic Ken dance off, everything with Allan. I’ve never been a Michael Cera fan but he was sublime in this. Kate McKinnon was fantastic too. Honestly everyone was great and they all seemed to be having a fantastic time.
posted by kitten kaboodle at 9:29 PM on July 20, 2023 [10 favorites]

A little uneven, and I would have taken a little more Gloria plot and a little less Kendom, but this was a treat.

Loved the Barbieland aesthetic, loved Mattel's Tati inspired cube farm and bumbling corporate board, loved the Closer to Fine road trip music and the transition to Push and the beach bonfire singalong, loved Gloria's husband's Duolingo attempts, loved Ken discovering the patriarchy, loved the big beach fight turned dance off. Could ramble on at length, will definitely rewatch soon.

America Ferrera, Margot Robbie and Ryan Gosling all gave great, surprisingly emotional performances.

The theatre I went to was having a Malibu Barbie party tonight, with lots of pink glitter streamers and pink concessions. There was a group on the patio in pink outfits squealing at the pink outfits of everyone coming in. Two little girls, maybe 6 and 8, in pink princess dresses with Barbie purses were a highlight. Although I wonder how much the kids enjoyed inescapable thoughts of death Barbie...

I do wonder how the opening night Oppenheimer viewers felt about showing up to a Malibu Barbie party, but only one of this weekend's big releases has good party vibes.
posted by the primroses were over at 9:45 PM on July 20, 2023 [8 favorites]

I felt that there was a lot of heat between Ken and rival Ken. Especially during the Beach fight where they sparkle exploded into the big dance number. I think that some other Kens were really into each other.
I was kind of confused by the board. It's very much All Men, but the president's a defender of Barbieland, and horrified when he found out that the Kens had taken over, even though they were raking in the dough selling Ken merch.
We really enjoyed it, and I think we were all crying at some point at the end.
posted by Spike Glee at 6:40 AM on July 21, 2023 [9 favorites]

Count me in as those who cried as well, though I think I'm inclined to agree with the more critical side of things. I can see that the filmmakers were savvy enough to know that they were intelligent enough to question the premise but not independent enough to truly challenge it, so they chose to embrace the paradox into the story itself to a somewhat maudlin finish in lieu of an actual conclusion to their own argument. Should I feel concerned that a movie nominally about Barbie had the show stolen by a Ken, is kinda representative to what I'm thinking about right now.

It's surprisingly a thematic double feature with Oppenheimer though, so my compliments to the gods of movie scheduling.
posted by cendawanita at 8:24 AM on July 21, 2023 [11 favorites]

the president's a defender of Barbieland, and horrified when he found out that the Kens had taken over, even though they were raking in the dough selling Ken merch.

Boys toys generally have much shorter lifespans. Are there any major boys toylines as old as Barbie?

the re-taking of power by the Barbies hinged on the Kens being straight

I don't think so - I think it hinged on them being stereotypically male. I'm pretty sure gay dudes can mansplain.

was a little too heteronormative
If they had left the 'die a virgin' lines out of Ken's song it would have basically been a sexless movie (other than a joke or two), so I kind of agree. Those lines shifted the tone to higher stakes that the movie wasn't willing to deal with. And it didn't seem the Barbies were actually paired up with Kens (did I miss that?), so the raised stakes (he could have picked a different Barbie) didn't really make sense.

I also think it kind of made sense with the 'I am Kenough' - like learn to be something in and of yourself without a partner - a male version of feminism.

I agree with the complaints about too much Ken and that Barbie was sidelined by multiple story plots (the mother and daughter) in her own movie.

I also could have sworn 'Weird Barbie' looked weirder in some of the early promos, and that her make up was toned down. Maybe I'm misremembering.
posted by The_Vegetables at 8:54 AM on July 21, 2023 [10 favorites]

I am not a fleece fan, but I hooted at the 'I Am Kenough' and would buy a t-shirt (a muscle t?) of that in a second. And I think you're right about the Weird Barbie makeup. Maybe we're just used to it but it did seem toned down from early promos.

SPOILERS (but this is FanFare - I think we resolved this?)

Re: my issue with the re-takeover plot, I didn't have a problem with the start of it - the "I'm so dumb and bad at sports" part. That was pretty dang spot-on in my experience. It was the guitar campfire part. The Kens started battling one another because each Barbie started paying attention to another Ken in a coquettish manner, and they got jealous. I was initially also annoyed about the Barbies using sexualized "feminine wiles" at the campfire, but thinking about it again (omg I am analyzing this way too much) I realized that was one of the only weapons they had at that point in the Kendom.

But would the campfire Kens have gotten so jealous of one another if they had been gay, or asexual? I guess introducing the latter would have been impossible but that would have been an interesting topic to hit.
posted by queensissy at 9:38 AM on July 21, 2023 [3 favorites]

I saw it last night: there are things I want to discuss, but I don't want to spoil anything.

this is literally the page for discussing the movie!

Anyway, I just got back from seeing it. Yep, cried a few times. I wanted more America Ferrera and a smidge less Kens, but on the whole I thought it was great.

(What bits specifically were promoting assorted "agendas"?)
posted by gaspode at 10:57 AM on July 21, 2023 [5 favorites]

I didn't know Earring Magic Ken was in this!

he certainly is!
posted by gaspode at 10:58 AM on July 21, 2023 [2 favorites]

Are there any major boys toylines as old as Barbie?

Barbie: 1959

Matchbox (if you consider it a major boy's line (and at least two of those descriptors seem arguable)): 1953
posted by box at 11:06 AM on July 21, 2023 [3 favorites]

AMC is selling a $65 Barbie popcorn package where the "bucket" is a Barbie corvette and you also get a doll.
posted by ThePinkSuperhero at 11:49 AM on July 21, 2023 [3 favorites]

GI Joe is from 1964, which is younger than Barbie but not by an amount that seems significant...
posted by trig at 11:51 AM on July 21, 2023

I'm really ambivalent. Yes, Margot Robbie, America Ferrera and Ryan Gosling were fantastic, and I did cry during the moving bits, but as a narrative it made no sense! The corporate guys were there why? What exactly were the Kens doing in the Bob Fosse number? Why was a story about Barbie completely centred on the friend-zoned angst of a man, and why did Gloria do that amazing speech about the contradictions of 'womanhood' under the patriarchy without offering ANY solutions other than to distract the Kens whilst they reinstated a constitution that appeared to do nothing for equality. Whilst I'm absolutely all for empowering the sisterhood, instituting a seperatist gynocracy doesn't seem like an attainable solution to the ills presented by the real world. And then Barbie just...became a real girl? I am very confused by the message/s of the film.
posted by freya_lamb at 2:05 PM on July 21, 2023 [38 favorites]

I thought it was delightfully wacky and all-over-the-place, with acting good enough and writing smart enough to (barely) hold the thing together through sheer force of will. I have no real emotional connection to Barbie The IP, and would still wholeheartedly recommend it.

I'm probably taking things too seriously, but I felt like the weakest parts of the movie came from wanting to make a movie about patriarchy without making a movie about violence. One of my favorite lines was

Ken: "Everyone's looking at me, without any undertones of violence!"
Barbie: "I'm getting a lot of undertones of violence"

and I was hoping we'd get more interrogation of that idea, but they never really revisited it (for obvious reasons, given that the theater we saw it in was like 60% children). But I'm not sure how you can meaningfully talk about the patriarchy, and a world without the patriarchy, without acknowledging that it exists because there are men who will kill for it.

Without any concept of real, non-dance-off, violence, you get the bizarre and condescending conceit of "the Barbies are immunologically naive to Being Mansplained About Patriarchy", which leads to an (IMO) unsatisfying last act in which electoral democracy is a magic solution to a violent coup. Maybe squaring that circle is asking too much of a movie that has to be at least plausibly a kid's movie, but it left a bit of a bad taste in my mouth.
posted by rishabguha at 2:12 PM on July 21, 2023 [25 favorites]

loved Gloria's husband's Duolingo attempts

He’s credited as El Esposo de Gloria!

I just saw it and really enjoyed it, the Barbieland sets were amazing!

I’ve got 30 tabs open with Barbie related articles so I might come back and share some links!
posted by ellieBOA at 2:16 PM on July 21, 2023 [23 favorites]

freya_lamb, I'm glad we saw the same movie! I also started feeling bad about halfway through the movie for laughing at Allan. Though I did continue to laugh. Argh. I think I'm going to file this away as one of those movies I love if I don't pick it apart. The Women (1939 version), Mildred Pierce (1945)...
posted by queensissy at 2:27 PM on July 21, 2023 [2 favorites]

This was an overstuffed, messy delight. It's absolutely not perfect but it's a masterpiece. It just goes for it. It's trying to do too much but I liked that about it. It's a ride.

Gosling is amazing and I wonder how many times they had to do that dance sequence because he did look like he was about to break a couple of times (which absolutely made it more charming).

Robbie is perfect here. She brings such a sweetness to Barbie that feels informed. Even at the end, Barbie was still herself, just a bit sadder and wiser. It's nuanced.

I loved it and I look forward to watching it again. It's a crowd-pleaser but one that doesn't trade that for being smart. That's a hard thing to pull off.

(So many women wearing pink! And a few men! When my friend and I would pass another group of women wearing pink, we'd all wave and say "Hi, Barbie!" to each other. Good times.)
posted by edencosmic at 7:55 PM on July 21, 2023 [21 favorites]

Can Margot Robbie actually cry like that? The most beautiful little tears.

Simon Liu is distractingly handsome.
posted by ThePinkSuperhero at 8:02 PM on July 21, 2023 [11 favorites]

I was happy Earring Magic Ken was here, yeah, although sad he wasn't wearing his cock ring necklace (I assume Mattel was like "bridge too far" especially with the bleeped "motherfucker." Although they did show the doll in the end credits).

A bit sad the "Math class is tough!" wasn't included but I suspect they filmed that and it was cut (there just seemed a couple of places it would have worked).

I am still lingering on this movie and I would absolutely love to go see it again. I like Gerwig as a writer and a filmmaker and her ambition is something I love the most about her. She just goes for it and doesn't seem afraid to fail.

I never thought I'd be thinking this much about a Barbie movie and ... yeah, I've always loved Barbie.

Let's all agree that last line was absolutely perfect, though.
posted by edencosmic at 9:16 PM on July 21, 2023 [9 favorites]

Saw the movie with some friends last night in a wonderful art deco theater and half the audience was in hot pink outfits. It was super fun, although with some disappointment that it didn't go as far as it could have on exploring the spectrum of possibilities, especially considering the promise of Fox News' complaints about the movie's "trans agenda and gender themes". Where were Trans Barbie and Trans Ken, Drag Ken wearing Barbie's clothes, Ken/Ken shipping, etc?

My other complaints include that the rules of the universe weren't clear (how did actions in Barbie Land influence the outside world versus the other direction?) and that Aqua's song was only in the end credits. To remedy the last one, here's a remix of "Barbie Girl" in the style of six classical composers.
posted by autopilot at 1:21 AM on July 22, 2023 [1 favorite]

Where were Trans Barbie and Trans Ken, Drag Ken wearing Barbie's clothes, Ken/Ken shipping, etc?

Hari Nef, who played one of the main Barbies (Doctor Barbie), is a trans woman. Also I definitely got lots of gay vibes from Weird Barbie (Birkenstocks!), which felt intentional.
posted by fight or flight at 3:29 AM on July 22, 2023 [15 favorites]

Also I definitely got lots of gay vibes from Weird Barbie (Birkenstocks!), which felt intentional.

It felt like they added the line of her fantasising about Ken to counteract how gay the character felt!
posted by ellieBOA at 4:49 AM on July 22, 2023 [1 favorite]

My other complaints include that the rules of the universe weren't clear (how did actions in Barbie Land influence the outside world versus the other direction?)

My brain quickly moved from enjoying the modernist references in the Mattel set design to feeling curious why is it that tonally, Barbieland is extremely normal and contemporary, and sensical to the movie audience, but Mattel Corp is the one that's odd and avantgarde and whimsical, existing in a modern world that also maps to the same emotional terrain as Barbieland. By the time we got to ending, I've concluded that it's a copout for the story, because it couldn't get too dark and patriarchally violent, but it just made the Mattel exec board mostly harmless with the crime of being just Ken ie dudes. Will Ferrell played his role ambiguously enough you can buy that he meant well too. Mattel Corp came out of this looking good.
posted by cendawanita at 5:44 AM on July 22, 2023 [10 favorites]

Hari Nef, who played one of the main Barbies (Doctor Barbie), is a trans woman.
I didn't realize this and she is perhaps an even better example of a Trans Barbie since she has a real role in Barbie Land and is not defined simply as trans. Unlike Beach Ken, who yearns for more depth and backstory than only Beach.
posted by autopilot at 9:20 AM on July 22, 2023 [9 favorites]

Gloria's speech is a brilliantly-delivered terrible thing that deserves awards that the contemporary patriarchy will not grant it.

I dressed up, I over-accesorized, hoping to help Barbie do whatever she needs to do (have fun watching this movie). It's a delight and a difficult work of art straddling the contemporary questions of "What Are Roles For Women/What Are Roles For Ken ... For Men?" I'm still a bit upset by the journey the movie took to point out the horribleness of the real world (but my cognitive dissonance will return soon; like, payday on Tuesday).

The Pink Superhero: Can Margot Robbie actually cry like that? The most beautiful little tears.
Apparently on-demand from each eye or both as needed:
posted by k3ninho at 11:49 AM on July 22, 2023 [10 favorites]

Pavement's response to the Kensplaining about Stephen Malkmus and his importance: “We are aware of the Barbie Movie rumors and are awaiting guidance from legal but as a rule we are pro Greta.”
posted by Etrigan at 1:49 PM on July 22, 2023 [15 favorites]

My made-up-on-the-spot theory while watching is that Will Farrell’s character was actually a Ken who escaped years ago and stayed in the real world and then “failed up” as the Mattel CEO because of how much he knew about Barbie and because he’s a ~man~. Then he hired people who remind him of his fellow Kens. It’s why the offices seem so fake and like a set — and what a toy would decide is a ~manly~ office!

There’s also definitely deep magic connecting Barbieland to the real world that I don’t think I fully understand (like the Mojo Dojo Casa House already being produced, sold, and shipped?). But it does make me think that the Barbies/Kens must have seized the power of production, so communism is actually pink!

Anyway, this isn’t a perfect movie, but it’s perfect for what I need right now, and I love it so much. I’m so excited that I’m going to see it again tomorrow with the family (and not just buying a ticket on my own when I realized I had the afternoon free — also shout-out to my local cinema that went from two showtimes a day when tickets went on sale a couple weeks ago, to a dozen showtimes a day that have now quickly filled up. Pink power!). It made me laugh and cry and now I am going to be obsessed with the idea that there needs to be a four-hour Greta Gerwig cut of the movie, because there were some moments that definitely could have been extended and fleshed out little more. But I love how bright and colorful everything was. You can have existential crises in a technicolor world, not everything needs to be grim-dark.

Oh, and I had 2 Kens growing up. One was a basic Beach Ken that I had since before I remember, and who one of the dogs stole as a chew toy, and he ended up with some gnarly scars. My mum had to glue his head back on. The other was the first Ken with “real” hair and not just a plastic ‘do — he also had a goatee that you could “shave” with his sponge razor accessory and hot water. He ended up being a huge slut as my Barbies were living their best “Sex* and the City” lives with fabulous wardrobes and jobs and perfect apartments. (*as best my early-puberty hormones understood it). But there were also a lot of lesbians in my Barbieland. Which, again, waiting for that unrated director’s cut!
posted by paisley sheep at 2:23 PM on July 22, 2023 [37 favorites]

Mrs. Example and I saw this earlier today. I think she had a more emotional reaction to it as a former Barbie owner, but I thoroughly enjoyed it too. (The line that was something like "If they ever figure out how to build [the wall] sideways instead of just up" damn near killed me with laughing.)
posted by Mr. Bad Example at 5:54 PM on July 22, 2023 [2 favorites]

I think it's easier to take some of this movie's themes if you keep in mind that its primary audience is tween girls and then their Gen X moms. E.g., in an adult movie, fuck fascist patriarchal Ken, I don't care about his journey, don't give the boys any power in girls' imaginations! He can be Kenough somewhere....over there. Way over there. In a kids' movie, though, what he did is an error that calls for sympathetic reguiding onto a better path.

(And...sigh. In an adult film, having a vagina would not be acceptable as the signifier of being a "human woman." But that's probably a bit advanced for the tweens, and there was a trans Barbie who was just...a Barbie with a profession!)

The strongest bits were the surreal and funny ones--the casting was absolutely sublime, how did Robbie and Gosling even get through that "I want to stay over tonight" bit without exploding???--and so I think Gerwig is actually just too earnest by nature to make this either a coherent or a delightfully incoherent whole. Nonetheless, I had a good time.
posted by praemunire at 11:01 PM on July 22, 2023 [3 favorites]

What exactly were the Kens doing in the Bob Fosse number?
I think they were beaching off.
posted by ckape at 11:15 PM on July 22, 2023 [34 favorites]

the Bob Fosse number

pssst, that's Singin' in the Rain

plus a little West Side Story

plus beaching off
posted by praemunire at 11:29 PM on July 22, 2023 [8 favorites]

Am I right in thinking that, even though Will Farrell has a major role in this movie, they never once made a callback to President Business? You know, from another toy movie?
posted by SPrintF at 8:23 AM on July 23, 2023 [6 favorites]

Fresh off the Barbenheimer double-header yesterday. I commented about Oppy in the Oppy thread.
We took a breather between films, fully expecting a very different audience and were not disappointed. Lots of intergenerational (mostly) girl groups, but a few dad/daughters like us.
The first 15 minutes (barring the 2001 homage) I was convinced that this film was lightweight compared to Oppy, but I was pretty wrong by the end.
Both films demand that you let them break over you like waves (at Beach!). For Barbie it is color and music and feels, while for Oppy it is sound and tension and more sound.
I'm always happy when I both laugh and tear up at movie, and while Barbie has never played a role in my personal life (neither daughter had nor wanted Barbie toys), she's been enough of a cultural icon for me to appreciate the complex role she has in a feminist worldview.
My daughter is now sad she (a bass playing goth-adjacent rocker) passed on a Barbie soundtrack listening party last week at her local record store.
Totally satisfying day at the movies.
posted by OHenryPacey at 9:35 AM on July 23, 2023 [4 favorites]

He’s credited as El Esposo de Gloria!

And learned from America Ferrera’s interview that’s her real husband!

Margot Robbie in conversation with Greta Gerwig on the seismic success of Barbie [Vogue Australia]
It's Greta's World... The Director Talks Boiler Suits, New Babies, And Barbie-Mania [Elle UK]
Margot Robbie and Ryan Gosling on Barbie and Kenergy [NYT / Archive]
Into the Dollhouse: America Ferrera taught a generation of women to reject traditional beauty standards. So what’s she doing in the Barbie movie? [The Cut / Archive]
‘I hate the colour pink’: Issa Rae on being a reluctant Barbie and the legacy of Insecure [Guardian / Archive]
In Praise of Allan, the Unsung Hero of Barbie [Vulture / Archive]
Barbie Is Right: Heterosexuality Is Goofy [Autostraddle]
Hari Nef and Barbie's Empowering Message for Trans Women [Out]
Alexandra Shipp: Barbie Shows the Beauty of a Matriarchal Society [Out]
Barbie's Scott Evans Was Born to Play a Ken [Out]
Margot Robbie Takes You Inside The Barbie Dreamhouse | Architectural Digest
KEN Things Ryan Gosling Can't Live Without | GQ
posted by ellieBOA at 10:32 AM on July 23, 2023 [29 favorites]

I was surprised to like the movie as much as I did. I found myself smiling a lot in the first quarter, and had tears in the final quarter. I found it less preachy than I feared. Specifically, I liked the nods to films like 2001 as well as Blade Runner (Kate McKinnon definitely channels Pris).
posted by seawallrunner at 11:42 AM on July 23, 2023 [1 favorite]

Dr Lesbian on Twitter (with photos): just realized when patriarchy came to barbieland weird barbie got transformed into a radical guerilla fighter lesbian feminist bc that’s how women who don’t bow to the patriarchy are viewed by men
posted by ellieBOA at 12:13 PM on July 23, 2023 [40 favorites]

Technically Ron on Instagram (with screenshots): I took 1 star reviews of #Barbie from furious men on letterboxd and put them on the posters because it makes the film seem ever cooler.
posted by ellieBOA at 2:39 PM on July 23, 2023 [18 favorites]

Chalk me up as another who Barbiheimered today, and another who loved them both. I've not got much to add to all the cogent thoughts upthread, other than I head-canoned the kinda clunky plots by thinking of them as being stories made up by kids playing with their dolls ("...and then she meets a ghost!"). And happily Barbie is apparently absolutely raking it in at the box-office which is great, even if only as a 'fuck-you' to the spanners who'd've rather seen Kencel then Kenough.

Anyway, my favourite thing about the screening was seeing it in a theatre with actual people cheering and laughing and crying and clapping. As also said already, it's clearly a corporate product for a corporate product, and so compromised in some ways, but it was still joyous.
posted by sarble at 4:14 PM on July 23, 2023 [6 favorites]

I enjoyed this a lot! I didn’t expect much, but it had some lovely moments. Really touching if you have any semblance of mother issues, either from being a child or presumably from being one.

So many women in my audience were nodding along in unison to a few key moments of messaging. Congrats to Greta Gerwig on a huge milestone with this one.

I could feel a lot of love poured into this movie and that’s something rare in a Summer blockbuster in the last decade or so.

My favorite outfit was the blue collared dress when she goes to figure out “what’s wrong with her,” but ultimately I’d watch this again just for an outfit sketch session.

posted by ener at 4:20 PM on July 23, 2023 [1 favorite]

I liked this more than I thought I would! Visually, it’s a treat, just total commitment to an aesthetic, and I would love to read some commentary on how Margot Robbie’s makeup changes over the course of the movie. Fabulous sets, costumes, hair and makeup all around. Robbie and Ryan Gosling are really good here! (Though I don’t think these are Oscar-caliber performances.) WEIRD BARBIE, reminding me of Tank Girl maybe? She was hilarious and strangely grounding, like that friend who gives you a plan instead of a hug. Use of “Closer to Fine” was excellent. And the dance numbers? So much FUN. I felt like the movie pulled its punches, though (violence against women, corporate imagineers, Gloria’s daughter’s rapid conversion), and could not quite be the critique it was proposing. Still, I (who hated my Barbies) found a lot to like here!
posted by MonkeyToes at 4:51 PM on July 23, 2023 [6 favorites]

I think I loved this more than my wife and daughter did. It just felt so. Good. It did so many things that other four-quadrant movies wish they could do, with such aplomb. I absolutely laughed and cried and just had the most joyous time.

And I desperately need an “I am Kenough” tie-dye shirt.
posted by uncleozzy at 5:04 PM on July 23, 2023 [3 favorites]

Shepherd and I saw this today and absolutely loved it.

To quote a girlfriend of mine who saw it on Friday with her 10 year old daughter, "I agree with most of the criticisms and I still loved it." I'd agree with that.

Shepherd was unfamiliar with the Indigo Girls' "Closer to Fine" ("what was the song that everyone sang along to?? Am I supposed to recognize it?"), so I explained it to him from a very unique viewpoint:

"If you are a Southern woman of a certain age, you know or you were the girl in high school who put song lyrics from 'Closer to Fine' under your senior picture."

The Pavementsplaining? Those of us who dated insufferable indie boys in our 20s had flashbacks.
posted by Kitteh at 5:09 PM on July 23, 2023 [12 favorites]

I was thinking about this last night but when Gerwig's Lady Bird came out, some people said it was a ripoff of Real Women Have Curves (including the writer of it) and I like both movies but I always found that to be a weird thing. Lady Bird was based on Gerwig's own experiences and beyond some surface similarities (like that they both revolve around ambitious young women having conflicts with their mothers), I didn't find the movies to be that much alike overall. I understand there is a lot of societal context for why one was more acclaimed than the other (although I certainly knew about Real Women Have Curves when it was first out) but it just felt odd that people tried to pit these movies against each other.

Real Women Have Curves, of course, starred America Ferrera.

That Gerwig wrote the part of Gloria specifically for Ferrera and that her monologue is absolutely the heart of the movie pushes this into "Greta Gerwig 100% knows exactly what she's doing" territory for me. It doesn't come across as "yeah, I ripped off this other movie" (because, again, I don't think she did at all) but just acknowledging the movies that paved the way for her career.

Also that joke about watching the BBC Pride and Prejudice again and again hit way too close. So perfect.
posted by edencosmic at 6:09 PM on July 23, 2023 [27 favorites]

I laughed, I cried, I was NOT expecting the Rob Brydon cameo.
posted by btfreek at 11:30 PM on July 23, 2023 [8 favorites]

Ben Shapiro actually LOVED Barbie!
posted by box at 9:47 AM on July 24, 2023

Todd In The Shadows' "One Hit Wonderland" just did a post for Aqua's Barbie Girl in honor of the premiere. He apparently has been sitting on this for a year so he could synchronize the release.
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 10:00 AM on July 24, 2023 [1 favorite]

Ben Shapiro actually LOVED Barbie!

Ben Shapiro pointing out that a trans actress has a deeper voice than he does is just further evidence that his entire shtick is some sort of advanced performance art. That's the only explanation, right?

I absolutely loved the movie. I thought it was smart and funny and weird and sad and absurd. The musical numbers and dance sequences were amazing, the acting was fantastic, and the message is one that needs reinforcing.

All of the conservative yahoos who are complaining about Barbie are completely missing the point, either because they are too stupid to get it or because they are purposely pretending not to get it in order to get more clout. Ken is an accessory to Barbie, who exists solely for her attention. And while patriarchy seems like a way for Ken to claim some power he believes he deserves, the moral of the story is that patriarchy harms everyone.

Sure, things were wrapped up much more easily than they could ever be in the real world, but a little optimism never hurt anyone.
posted by Ben Trismegistus at 10:12 AM on July 24, 2023 [6 favorites]

the moral of the story is that patriarchy harms everyone.

But can you use Mattel’s tools to dismantle the Mattel house?
posted by MonkeyToes at 11:09 AM on July 24, 2023 [31 favorites]

Hilarious and touching. I kept seeing items that I expect to see on the shelves soon and wondering how much back and forth they had to do with the Mattel execs. We've had two female CEOs!?! The cameos were awesome, and I know I missed some of them.
posted by soelo at 1:33 PM on July 24, 2023 [2 favorites]

Mattel-as-portrayed is bonkers and the movie barely pauses to notice. They don't seem to control any of it,
but they've got the whole Barbie dimension, a ghost manifesting her kitchen in their office, production facilities that instantly turn out products invented in Barbieland... Just a very normal toy company.

(What a great movie.)
posted by mersen at 2:07 PM on July 24, 2023 [10 favorites]
welp, it was only a matter of time before i was hit with Barbie spoilers due to reading about an ancient Sumerian epic on clay tablets
posted by ckape at 5:59 PM on July 24, 2023 [19 favorites]

Additionally, I am informed that the official movie merch includes a certain tie-died hoodie.
posted by ckape at 7:34 PM on July 24, 2023 [4 favorites]

Can someone please DIY it to "Benough" and send it to a certain wee little man?
posted by praemunire at 9:56 PM on July 24, 2023 [3 favorites]

ckape THANK YOU and my wallet hates you. I had to get an Allan shirt too. Gawd, I am such a sucker for good merch.
posted by queensissy at 10:03 AM on July 25, 2023 [2 favorites]

No lawyer Barbie merch. :( :( :(
posted by praemunire at 11:17 AM on July 25, 2023 [2 favorites]

Additionally, I am informed that the official movie merch includes a certain tie-died hoodie.

The mere presence of that hoodie on-screen felt like a merch push - they were ready!
posted by ThePinkSuperhero at 11:54 AM on July 25, 2023 [2 favorites]

I saw it tonight; I wanted to find the biggest screen with the biggest crowd and I’m glad I did.

I agree with feeling a bit like Ken ran away with the movie for a moment there. But — I loved it. I cried at the end. I loved the absurdity and the design. I also loved the use of archival outfits from Barbie’s past (also, I am old enough to remember Earring Magic Ken and was glad to see him — and definitely need to know more about “Sugar(‘s) Daddy Ken.”

When I was a kid, the View-Master I got came with a few reels included — one was Barbie Goes Around the World (I found scans of it online just a few weeks ago.) I remember being fascinated by the completely stylized artificiality of the dioramas — and I loved the production design of this film.

I really liked Greta Gerwig’s Little Women — I don’t know her other work very well but I really appreciated the fact that she let this be, in the end, something with heart. It would be so easy to keep from going to a heartfelt place.

I will see it again this weekend.
posted by profreader at 1:31 PM on July 25, 2023 [5 favorites]

I absolutely adored this movie. It has *everything*. It fucking went for it. Is it a mess? Is there overreach? Absolutely. It just makes it that much more glorious. Great writing, great acting, great production, and lots of artistic guts.

Barbie is this culturally-loaded thing, and the movie faced that head on. It shied away from nothing. This is a brave movie.

I took my anti-Barbie Mom to see it, and she cried.
posted by Capt. Renault at 8:34 AM on July 26, 2023 [13 favorites]

Can Margot Robbie actually cry like that? The most beautiful little tears.

I think so, if you see Babylon it's in there too?
posted by I_Love_Bananas at 8:45 AM on July 26, 2023 [1 favorite]

Boys toys generally have much shorter lifespans. Are there any major boys toylines as old as Barbie?

Barbie has traditionally been paired with Hot Wheels, which was also invented by the Handlers only a few years after Barbie. But a more apt counterpart is definitely Thomas the Tank Engine, now also owned by Mattel with a similar target age range as Barbie products (excluding the Barbie movie, of course). Thomas premiered as a character in the 1940s and his tie-in toys started appearing around the same time as Barbie. But! These days Thomas fans (at least the child ones) are pretty much 50/50 boys and girls. It's hard to find a perfect counterpart because properties that center boys as much as Barbie centers girls are often considered unisex, and properties that adults think of as "boy" stuff is liked more by girls than Barbie is by boys. Obviously this is not irrelevant to the themes of this movie, LOL

As for me, I don't disagree with most of the critiques I've seen of this, especially the plot, but I also really liked it and found it very moving, by which I mean I mostly wanted to both chortle and weep the entire time???

I was also primed to feel that way by the fact that my Tuesday 1PM showing in Suburban Hellscape, NJ had lots of people of different ages and genders decked out in pink to see it even though the last time I went to that theatre it was a ghost town.
posted by lampoil at 9:45 AM on July 26, 2023 [2 favorites]

I Went to Canada to Watch "Barbie" With Ryan Gosling's Family

If you have never been to Cornwall, don't worry about it. It is the kind of town where I parallel parked once when passing through on a roadtrip and was greeted with a dead cat on the curb. A fave pasttime in our house is creating new slogans for Cornwall's CoC.

And now my new one is: Cornwall - Ryan Gosling is from here so please like us
posted by Kitteh at 8:27 AM on July 27, 2023 [4 favorites]

Hahahahaha FUCK this was so good
posted by Tom Hanks Cannot Be Trusted at 10:05 AM on July 27, 2023 [6 favorites]

Regarding this:
I can see that the filmmakers were savvy enough to know that they were intelligent enough to question the premise but not independent enough to truly challenge it, so they chose to embrace the paradox into the story itself to a somewhat maudlin finish in lieu of an actual conclusion to their own argument.
I'm really ambivalent. Yes, Margot Robbie, America Ferrera and Ryan Gosling were fantastic, and I did cry during the moving bits, but as a narrative it made no sense! The corporate guys were there why? What exactly were the Kens doing in the Bob Fosse number? Why was a story about Barbie completely centred on the friend-zoned angst of a man, and why did Gloria do that amazing speech about the contradictions of 'womanhood' under the patriarchy without offering ANY solutions other than to distract the Kens whilst they reinstated a constitution that appeared to do nothing for equality. Whilst I'm absolutely all for empowering the sisterhood, instituting a seperatist gynocracy doesn't seem like an attainable solution to the ills presented by the real world. And then Barbie just...became a real girl? I am very confused by the message/s of the film.
I think the answers to both have to do with Barbie being gloriously, unrepentantly CAMPY. And a big part of camp consists of understanding when things are simultaneously (a) really fucking stupid and (b) kind of inescapable, and responding by leaning so far into the stupid that it becomes impossible to take seriously. You can't beat 'em, but you can change what it means to join 'em.

The paradox of Barbie, both as a product and a PR initiative, is that it would love you to think that Barbie is a progressive, empowering product for women. The movie underscores this early on, by pointing out a list of Actually Real Barbies that consist of Barbie working really hard, being super-duper exceptional, and becoming the president or an astronaut or, at the very least, a doctor. And it's pointed out in the script itself that this flips the "Barbie as bimbo" binary but also reinforces it, by positing that "real" or "impressive" women are the ones who aggressively work to be exceptional in some way. The antithesis of Stereotypical Barbie, if you go by script-construction logic, is Ordinary Barbie, whose goal is to have a mostly-nice day while looking pretty okay.

I love Barbie's handling of Mattel, because it's probably the only way you can give Mattel's CEO shit while he's actively giving you money to make a movie about him. Will Ferrell exists as a foil to both Ruth Handler and Ken: it's important that he sincerely believes in his mission, while also not fully comprehending that "his mission" is undermined by his gender, his all-male board, the underlying logic of his product, etc. (Incidentally, in real life Mattel's executive leadership team has a few women on it, including the Executive Producer of Mattel Films.)

As for the whole "Barbieland as matriarchy" concept... the whole thing is a gender-flipped switcheroo. Everything that Barbie says about Barbieland is something that it's saying about the real world, only inverted. And while Ken's story has a lot to say about men—specifically, about loneliness and angst and the way that men try to solve this by resenting women and fantasizing about control over them—it's also a story about someone who thinks that their entire existence is to be a "counterpart" to someone else, who can't comprehend having value without a significant other to cater to, and whose arc completes by realizing that they have to discover innate value for themselves. Which means that Ken's story, on one level, is a story about women who grow up in a strongly patriarchal society where all those values are explicitly foisted upon them.

But Ken is also, weirdly, extremely innocent—I loved his line towards the end about losing interest in patriarchy once he realized it wasn't about horses. And a part of what's interesting about the Ken takeover of Barbieland is that it's achieved without force, seemingly simply by dint of Ken telling the other Kens about what Patriarchy is like. That's enough to convert the Kens and the Barbies to this other state of being, where the Kens realize their explicitly pre-pubescent fantasy of male power. It's not even a teenage dream, it's like a kid's dream about a teenager's dream, where guys get to be dudes and watch The Godfather and drink imaginary beer and have girlfriends who tell them how great they are, constantly.

Meanwhile, the Barbies aren't "brainwashed" so much as they revert to... the stereotype of what Barbies are.

Ken has what you might call "innocent male privilege." The kind of privilege that consists of extraordinary and toxic blindness, rather than aggression (except towards other Kens). Ken wants male supremacy because male supremacy would be great for Ken, and he doesn't really understand anything about why this wouldn't be great for anyone else. Because he's coming from a place of loneliness, he's actively motivated to want something different, but that motivation stems from an innately naïve place. Which on some level makes him and Will Ferrell kindred spirits: Ferrell's female-empowerment positivity is as fettered as Ken's male-empowerment fantasy, but the IRL version of it, where He's Helping but doesn't understand the limits of his help.

Barbieland is run by Barbies because it exists for Barbies. It doesn't exist for Ken; Ken, according to the film, is only there because he wants Barbie to notice him. Nothing's stopping the Kens from leaving this world, except for the fact that their entire personality is driven by wanting Barbie's affirmations. (And Barbie acknowledges, in the end, that this is maybe a little bit excessive, that not every night has to be a Girls Night, but Ken figuring out how to exist for his own sake is maybe more important than that.)

The whole Kendomland thing, with the Constitutional rewrite, feels like a case of: women have this one thing, this one place that's exclusively theirs, and men want to take that too. (And they don't actually want it in a place that's "for" men or that cares about men, because Allan is disgusted by it and bolts the moment he can.)

Which is where the Ken fight comes in: the movie explicitly states that the Ken logic is flawed, that patriarchy does hurt men, that it's not actually a solidarity amongst Kens so much as it's a collection of individually self-centered Kens who are only "at peace" as long as they get everything they want. From the start, way before Kendomland, we see how resentful Ken gets of other Kens who get attention; the moment Barbies stop paying attention to their respective Kens, all-out war ensues. (And it's a war exclusively between men, with women as the trophies, which is a line I remember Anita Sarkeesian using to describe patriarchy more generally: it's not actually men fighting women, because women aren't equals or even people.)

God, the funniest joke in the whole thing for me was the bit where all the Kens abruptly don John Travolta's exact outfit from Grease. Because man, Grease is another movie that, in its campy way, says... certain Barbie-adjacent things about men and women.

I think the movie has a few different messages, all of which overlap with one another, which is another very campy thing: when you're parodying dumb, incoherent things by embracing them, you wind up a little incoherent yourself. Camp isn't satire: it doesn't comment upon so much as it embraces. And Barbie follows from a rich vein of mega-corporate films about women discovering themselves, or about people discovering themselves, usually with the end goal of self-actualizing and finally being respected and/or getting to kiss someone else. With that in mind, it's a little radical that it doesn't end in a kiss, and doesn't (as far as I remember) feature any kiss at any point except for two Kens kissing another Ken on the cheek.

Barbie self-actualizes, but she does it by embracing imperfection, change, and death. Barbieland remains, but Barbie's happy ending isn't in Barbieland: it's out here, with all the gynecologists and such. The goal of Barbie-as-product is reimagined, less as either feminine ideal or feminist girlboss empowerment, than as somewhat of the opposite. Instead of girls looking up to Barbie, it's Barbie looking up to girls, and to grown women, and to beautiful elderly women too. Barbieland exists as a (Ken-free) escape, but Barbie makes the choice to reject it too. Which means that she isn't rejecting Ken at all, when she turns him down: she's telling him that he has to make the same choice she's making, and giving the both of them an opportunity to become equals. (Singly, and literally independently.)

The real reunion of the film is between mother and daughter, Gloria and Sasha. And their reunion consists, in a sense, of each embracing childish things: Sasha embracing whimsy and fun and being "girly" and silly and unserious, and Gloria embracing being an adult who's still an insecure, anxious mess. Sasha seeing her mother own up to that side of herself feels less of a need to be "composed," in that adolescent sense of bottling herself up and rejecting the things she feels that she's outgrown; Gloria, in turn, feels less of a need to hide the parts of herself that don't feel composed enough to present to her daughter. Ironically, both (in their way) are pursuing a kind of Barbie-esque ideal: a kind of outward perfection that admits no vulnerability or tenderness, and permits no contradiction—exactly the thing that Gloria rails about in her fantastic monologue. And perfection as a concept is loaded too, because this vision of perfection denies the possibility of change, fears it, and thus makes intimacy itself impossible.

Barbie winds up being the conduit that helps two generations of women bond. On one level, she becomes that conduit by embracing imperfection. On another, she has become that conduit because her very stereotypicalness, her very Platonic-ideal blankness, is what lets Gloria project her insecurities onto her, using her as a fantasy tool for playing with difficult real things. And on a third level, she works as a conduit because even Sasha has to admit that Barbieland whips ass, and the Indigo Girls do too.

I'd argue that that third level is less superficial than it looks: camp has always argued that style is subversive, when it exists solely for personal pleasure rather than as a strictly-enforced standard. More generally, the thesis of camp as a whole is that pleasure is subversive, which is why camp's embrace of stereotype and exaggeration is such a powerful force: the absurdity and non-logic of pleasure exposes the inherent absurdity of social norms, while simultaneously offering an irresistible alternative. Why resist something delightful just to resist it? That logic is as true of Barbie's hyperfemininity as it is of anything else: the patriarchal society that makes Sasha reflexively despise all things Barbie should not be permitted to choose which things are no longer acceptable to enjoy. Again, flipping to the other side of the binary only reinforces the binary, and the goal is not to be on the "right" side—it's to destroy the lie that is the binary.

That's kind of why, as a man, I'm delighted that this movie exists for young men and boys. (And I'd argue that it's sexist to assume that Barbie is exclusively a movie for girls—why shouldn't something like this appeal just as much to men?) It handles Ken with a lot of empathy, while simultaneously making him out to be utterly ridiculous. And at the same time, its vision of masculinity is so campy and flamboyant and fucking gorgeous, in a way that I hope inspires the fuck out of the youths. Camp wants to tear the walls down and invite everybody in. You can't remotely argue for Barbie as an exclusively feminist icon, and you don't achieve anything productive by pointing out, in 2023, that Barbie sets slightly unrealistic beauty standards for women. But you can turn Barbie camp, and Greta Gerwig did, and the result is absolutely goddamn magnificent.
posted by Tom Hanks Cannot Be Trusted at 11:15 AM on July 27, 2023 [117 favorites]

tl;dr you can probably distill Mattel's entire stance about this movie to the line where Will Ferrell goes "Ordinary Barbie? That doesn't at all sound like something we would—" and Jamie Demetriou butts in with "Demographically speaking, it'll make us a load of cash." Mattel wants Big Barbie Bucks and it also wants Barbie's image rehabilitated, and if that rehabilitation winds up being weird and campy and not at all the tired Girl Power! thing that they've been doing, hell, they don't give a shit.

(Historically speaking, camp has long been a weapon used against capitalist entertainment at its most corporate and monolithic, as it's one of the few tools that can subvert capitalism's most dreary intentions while also "winning" at it. Hell, the origins of camp and queer cinema are films like Some Like It Hot, one of the only movies whose final line might be funnier than Barbie's. Though it says a fuck of a lot that Barbie gives it a run for its money.)
posted by Tom Hanks Cannot Be Trusted at 11:29 AM on July 27, 2023 [19 favorites]

I had a rictus grin of happiness on my face for the entirety of the latter half of the film. I didn’t know that what I wanted out of life was a Jacques Tati pastiche with jokes about tax evasion and prominently using an Indigo Girls song, but that was indeed what I wanted.

Also, there’s something really interesting going on with motherhood in Barbie. The movie begins with the doll appearing, making little girls reject their baby dolls for a woman doll, dashing their baby dolls’ heads upon the rocks (reminding me of this infamous line from the Bible). That beginning clashes wildly with the line later in the film, spoken by Ruth Handler, that “we mothers stand still so our daughters can look back to see how far they've come”.

I’m not sure what’s going on there, but I bet a lot of film theory essays will look at that aspect of the movie.
posted by Kattullus at 4:23 PM on July 27, 2023 [12 favorites]

I went into this movie expecting some pretty sharp performances and decent riffs on the person-living-in-a-patently-artificial-environment-encounters-the-real-world type movie, and the movie delivered...and then blew way, way past that, with a devastating critique of the whole manosphere. I didn't just laugh at several moments, I outright howled, right there in the theater, especially at the last line. This movie won Barbenheimer, sorry Nolan, your film was great too, but this was just astonishing in parts. They even name-checked Zack Snyder's Justice League! Dang, baby.
posted by Halloween Jack at 8:18 AM on July 28, 2023 [8 favorites]

...a week after release and my local chain's website is still hammered in the evenings.
posted by praemunire at 4:16 PM on July 28, 2023 [2 favorites]

My wife and I took our youngest daughter to a matinee today. We loved it: when they went up to bed, they called out "Good-night, Barbie!" back and forth to each other.

I saw myself in El Esposo de Gloria, and in "I Am Kenough." My wife loved its strong message. My daughter just loved it, I think.

There were so many jokes that I guffawed at, but they were already on to the next one -- very old school pacing of rapid-fire dialogue.

What a great damn movie, flaws and all.
posted by wenestvedt at 7:09 PM on July 28, 2023 [11 favorites]

I loved it so much I’m trying to figure out when I can go back to the cinema and watch it again! I haven’t done that for a film in years, I’m normally happy to wait for it to appear online, but not this time!
posted by ellieBOA at 10:02 AM on July 29, 2023 [2 favorites]

I went to a small local grocery on Friday to pick up some "I have had a shitty week and I am sad" treats for myself, and perked up my ears when I heard what very much sounded like the Barbie soundtrack. I asked the owner, "OMG -- is this Barbie soundtrack?!?" She said, "Yes, and I have been trying to resist playing it because I just want to play it all the time. But I needed a pick me up so the hell with it, I want to hear it!"

We then proceeded to talk excitedly about the movie for about twenty minutes, talking about our fave parts, teasing out the meaning of certain scenes, and how each of us plan to see it again. As I walked away with my black velvet cupcake and two vegan pepperettes (yeah, it IS that kind of store), I thought to myself: The Barbie movie is the movie version of girl bathroom bonding.
posted by Kitteh at 2:45 PM on July 29, 2023 [23 favorites]

OK, so, Barbie vs Oppenheimer? It’s an unfair question, but I have to go with Barbie. Oppenheimer stretches the artistry of its convention, but Barbie? It fucking goes for it, tries to become all the things. It blasts past convention to become this whole other thing. Does it all work? No. Is it a mess? Yes. It’s fucking Tristram Shandy on the big screen, and it’s glorious.
posted by Capt. Renault at 5:29 PM on July 29, 2023 [11 favorites]

It’s fucking Tristram Shandy on the big screen, and it’s glorious.

posted by wenestvedt at 6:15 PM on July 29, 2023 [4 favorites]

Oppenheimer is the doctor's name.

The monster's name is Barbie.
posted by DirtyOldTown at 6:25 PM on July 29, 2023 [17 favorites]

OK, so, Barbie vs Oppenheimer?

I saw them both and Barbie is the only one I’m going back to see!
posted by ellieBOA at 6:51 AM on July 30, 2023 [3 favorites]

So I have fled up to Woodstock for a weekend getaway (I booked it a couple months ago to give my roommate space, but I am just embarking on a job hunt now and I getting hit with ALL the solicitations now and it is freaking me out, so I escaped). And - there is a movie theater a block from where I am staying and it had 2 daily screenings of BARBIE, so hi yes I need bonkers cotton candy escapism please.
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 3:46 PM on July 30, 2023 [4 favorites]

Barbie is rewatchable in a way that I don't think Oppenheimer can be (or even should be?)

Both are existential crisis movies and even though there's a huge amount of despair in each of them, I think Barbie at least gestures toward people/toys having a way to reinvent themselves or finding a way to recontextualise to make sense of things. Oppenheimer pretty clearly says what he did was unforgivable - he destroyed the world and there's no medal that fixes that.

The final scene of Oppenheimer is a kick in the guts but Barbie is a movie where someone says "men hate women and women hate women and it's pretty much the only thing we agree on" and how does that film even come back from there? HOW IS THAT IN A BARBIE MOVIE?

But Barbie has musical numbers and dance sequences and "beach offs" and a Mojo Dojo Casa House and a ridiculous cover of Matchbox Twenty and is pretty fucking funny a lot of the time.

(Personally, I don't find a lot of Nolan's films rewatchable. I like them a lot but once I experience them, they are either so heavy I don't feel like going back or once I know the essential " narrative trick" of the film, it doesn't seem all that worth it.)

So I'll rewatch Barbie a lot, but I'll think about these films for a long time. Especially because they are inextricably inexplicably linked.
posted by crossoverman at 3:48 PM on July 30, 2023 [4 favorites]

All right, I finally went after a week of people telling me to go see it. I have now come home and bought myself, "I'm weird, I'm dark and I'm crazy" on a T-shirt. I also looked into buying myself a pink jumpsuit, but jumpsuits are kinda hard to have to pee in and I can't try one on before buying it, so I didn't. I'd get a Kenough tie-dye, but I'm a lady so maybe that's not appropriate. I did dress up in a pink skirt and an obnoxiously pink shirt from the O.C., the other person dressed up at mine was in a hot pink dress with pearls.

I note it's a lot for me to actually get off my arse and go see a movie--the last one I saw was Avatar 2 and the same friend who dragged me to that one loved the Barbie trailer.


* I thought it sounded ridiculous before to mention the Gos for an Oscar, but after this I'd at least say this could be worth a nomination if not the actual statue. This is a tour de force for Ken as a guy who's created to be a boyfriend (whatever that is?) for someone who doesn't particularly need/care about him overall, so what does he do with his life other than beach? Then he gets some ideas, seizes power, gets some crazy outfits, then there's a Ken war, then there's a breakdown....this is pretty dang good for the Gos.

* Rhea Perlman for once wasn't rough-edged and I barely recognized her. Rather sweet, actually.

* Margot Robbie does an excellent job of being Stereotypical Barbie. Helen Mirren does an excellent job of snarking on her casting, and the opening.

* Simu Liu as Nemesis Ken seems to be having THE most fun of all the Kens.

* I like how the Mattel CEO wasn't totally insufferable as I would have expected, go figure. (Though yeah, no Lego movie reference?)

* Gloria and Sasha make the real world plot work. They also look lovely in Barbieland, and like everyone else, I enjoyed the rant monologue--and how she kept on doing it to deprogram the Barbies.

* This is a surreal movie and I'm surprised it got made and I did enjoy it.

* I love the clothes in this SO MUCH. Everything is so beautiful. Also beautiful is Weird Barbie's house.

* Deep thoughts on doll sexuality: folks, I dunno if we should think the Barbies/Kens/etc. are gay or straight or anything. I think dolls are probably asexual. They're simulations of humans and "eat" and "drink" and "shower" when they don't need to, they don't have genitals, they have NO IDEA what spending the night entails or how kissing is actually done or supposed to go. They go through the vague motions of heterosexuality as comprehended by small children, at most. (I note we don't see any Barbies humping....) Neither Barbie nor Ken has any idea of what a boyfriend/girlfriend relationship entails really. Ken knows he's made to be a satellite to Barbie and is thus fixated because she's why he exists and what else does he get to do? No wonder he starts taking interests in patriarchy when it gives him power and a reason to exist besides waiting for Barbie to notice him. Barbie has been handed Ken as another accessory that she doesn't have strong feelings over compared to partying at girls' night. Barbies have enough jobs to do (well, Stereotypical doesn't, but she seems fine with that originally) to not have to care about what the Kens are doing. Everything they're doing is a replica of what little girls are telling them happens in the real world, as much as they get at age 6 or whatever.
posted by jenfullmoon at 6:48 PM on July 30, 2023 [11 favorites]

* an hour after leaving Tinker St. Theater in Woodstock *

Yeah, I needed that.

(Also: I suppose, since I am in Woodstock, that I shouldn't have been surprised to see three women in the front all start grooving when "Closer To Fine" came on.)
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 6:58 PM on July 30, 2023 [1 favorite]

This movie pairs nicely with Mark Fisher's Capitalist Realism.
posted by latkes at 9:23 PM on July 30, 2023 [2 favorites]

I loved this movie, and I felt it had staying power; so much of what I watch nowadays seems to fade away in my memory shortly after viewing, but I watched Barbie quite a few days ago and I still find myself reflecting on various things. I adored the brief scene where Barbie meets the nameless woman on the bench (played by Ann Roth) and says with total sincerity and a little awe in her voice, "You're beautiful," to which the woman responds that she already knows. Man, that scene really got me. It felt so powerful.

Ryan Gosling was excellent as friendzoned Ken, but as a character, I found him very anxiety inducing. I was desperate for him to let Barbie be.
posted by unicorn chaser at 2:25 AM on July 31, 2023 [8 favorites]

I actually felt like the "Ken dances out his angst" scene went on a bit long and I was starting to lose interest.

....Ironic given the point of the scene, I realize.
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 5:14 AM on July 31, 2023 [4 favorites]

Saw it yesterday for my birthday and I really loved it. I thought parts of it were a mess, but every time it went into the weeds someone would say just the right insight or joke or insane development and the ship would right itself, so I can’t complain about the problem spots. I found myself tearing up at the reveal that it was Gloria who was playing with her - and the way they looked at each other in recognition of it, and I said to myself, no, I am not going to cry at a Barbie movie. And then at the end when they showed the home movies, damn if I didn’t full-on cry at the Barbie movie.

Closer to Fine was perfect - I wish it wasn’t in the trailer because not seeing it coming would have flattened me - the way the theater I was in reacted to it, I was amazed people weren’t all singing along (part of me definitely wanted to). I was in a sold out show, some kids but mostly not, and when they made the call out to the BBC Pride and Prejudice, the whole theater I was in pretty much exploded. That they actually cut to a clip of Colin Firth was a master stroke. My favorite joke, though, was when Barbie did the main character thing where she sums up the solution to the problem to the rest of the Barbies, and immediately got called White Savior Barbie by Sasha. Perfect.

Serious shout out to Mattel for letting Gerwig take this as far as she did, because it gave it that much more honesty. This was an incredibly silly movie with ridiculous jokes that can’t possibly be taken seriously- with an incredibly serious movie tucked so cleverly inside of it that you can never catch it in the act of being too earnest. She basically walked the impossible line that the Barbie doll itself is all about. How can you represent what matters to women (and girls), when what’s supposed to matter to us is so laden with contradictory messages that what we know (deep down) actually matters barely gets a chance to be heard, let alone seen?

It wasn’t what I was expecting at all - it wasn’t as good as the Lego Movie for me, which ought to be a let down - but instead it was better in ways that I never anticipated. I don’t know that I need to see it again before it’s streaming, but I’m definitely watching it again, and encouraging everyone I know to see it.
posted by Mchelly at 10:50 AM on July 31, 2023 [14 favorites]

It did bother me that they showed Growing Up Skipper as an adult woman with dark hair who got bustier - I had that creepy doll, and she was a shorter, blond, very younger-sister-presenting girl who went from flat to boobular when you twisted her arm around. She pulled her punches on that one. And I thought the fight scene should have been a bit more like dolls fighting (a lot more smashing into one another and flailing), since all the other doll actions were mostly doll based.

Also everyone knows that IRL Weird Barbie would be wearing fewer clothes. I know that they can’t do that in a PG-13 movie, AND it would be a terrible choice that I’m glad didn’t happen. But seriously. Once you’ve got a weird Barbie, you’re stripping her for parts.

Also also my mermaid Barbies’ tails were tube socks stuck on with rubber bands but I’m guessing that was just me
posted by Mchelly at 11:00 AM on July 31, 2023 [4 favorites]

they actually cut to a clip of Colin Firth was a master stroke

At Darcy's absolute dickiest, too.
posted by praemunire at 12:03 PM on July 31, 2023 [2 favorites]

I agree with most of the points already raised about the film trying to do perhaps a feewww too many things at once, and that I loved it anyway on a level I did NOT at all expect to. I haven't stopped thinking about it since I saw it.

This is because, in addition to its achievements as a piece of art, I'm also finding the movie an eerily accurate test of the attitudes of cis men in my personal and professional lives (these are verbatim, or as near as one can get in translation since most of these men are French):

- Gay twentysomething interns: "loved it, it was weird and fun and beautiful!"

- Bro-y but mostly respectful analysts: "eh, not for me, not gonna bother. Margot Robbie is super hot tho, liked her in Batman." [Thirty-minute debate about which is the best Batman movie, mercifully free from "Birds of Prey" discourse, mostly because they never bothered to see it]

- My mostly-supportive but mostly-uninterested hetero spouse: "this looks like it'll be too much of a muchness for me, but sure, I'll see it when it eventually hits streaming services. I'm glad you had fun th--wait have you been crying what is happening"

- Gay male friends from various backgrounds: "worth the ticket price, loved it, the sexism stuff/patriarchy stuff was actually super smart"

- Hetero male friends and relatives, my female friends' respective hetero spouses and boyfriends:
1) dudes whose emotional and/or sexual selfishness their partners regularly seek advice on: "ridiculous trash and Offensive 2 Men"
2) the rest: anywhere from "actually I loved it, weirdly?" to "didn't get the hype, put up with it so we could go see Oppenheimer afterwards".

- Our team's fiftysomething senior web dev, who is usually...decent but has always struck me as having p. intense Divorced Guy Energy with a side of weirdness towards the cuter female interns: "shit film. Total waste of time. Overbearing feminist garbage. Boring."

It's almost like Gerwig DESIGNED the film to do this. Because it does everything professionally aggrieved Internet men pretend to want:
- Depicts, sympathetically, the alienation, loneliness and lack of direction so many men feel, and says there really ARE legitimate reasons to feel that way
- Features one of those lonely, alienated men embarking on a quest for empowerment and self actualization
- Shows how he can embrace bad, corrosive ideas as a part of that quest, without being innately evil himself
- Shows the star of the story, a conventionally beautiful woman, taking time to AGAIN validate his emotions, apologize for her role in them (after he stole her house!!!! which unless I'm mistaken he never apologizes to her for??), and validate his intrinsic worth as a person
- Never has him face any comeuppance, whatsoever, for the harm he's caused on his hero's journey to Mojo Dojo Casa fulfillment

...and it's still NOT ENOUGH for people like Web Dev Guy up there, because, as the movie deftly tricks them into admitting, what they want isn't recognition or self-actualization or even happiness, it's domination.

In short, "what do you think of the Barbie movie" is going to become my new "do you like Fight Club and why" litmus test for meeting new people.
posted by peakes at 6:13 AM on August 1, 2023 [72 favorites]

A guy has to be pretty far up his own ass not to find something good about this movie. Like, his prejudices have to be strong enough to smother his sense of humor and his empathy and even his sense of the absurd.

(Wait, please don't tell me that more men than fewer are like this. There are, aren't there? Dammit.)
posted by wenestvedt at 6:34 AM on August 1, 2023 [4 favorites]

Went to see it with my husband (we're in our 50s) and two 25-year-old friends (one cis het woman, one cis het man). We, the women, LOVED it. But so did the men! Then again, they both completely understand the patriarchy and are feminist men. And truthfully, all the men in my sphere who have seen the movie have loved it and "get" what Gerwig was going for.
posted by cooker girl at 7:50 AM on August 1, 2023 [7 favorites]

Same here. In fact, Shepherd was sure I wouldn't want to see it and asked me if it was okay if he went to see it without me. I was like, WHUT NO I WANNA SEE IT

The sample size of my circle is mostly DINKs, but every husband in that circle who has seen Barbie was not dragged to it. They were very excited about seeing it, and most of them want to see it again. Now THAT makes me happy.
posted by Kitteh at 8:09 AM on August 1, 2023 [3 favorites]

We went to a matinee showing, so the theater was mostly empty.

At the end of our row was a pair of women, maybe in their 50s or 60s, who seemed to enjoy it. (No singing along to the Indigo Girls, but that may not have been their decade.)

On my other side was a young family: mom next to me, then beardy dad, then one or two tweens. She didn't say much, but he went from talking a lot to silent. Not sure what happened there...
posted by wenestvedt at 8:22 AM on August 1, 2023

Politically this movie obviously has a lot going on, but a few days on I'm thinking the most about the feminist politics of this movie. My impression is:
- Made by a [young Gen X/old millennial?] white feminist, reflects those preoccupations. For example, do young women these days care about cellulite the way it was an obsession in the 80s? I would argue that while body policing is very much still a thing, body norms have changed quite a lot, reflected in the fact that there are now different Barbie body types, and the specifically oppressive body standard reflected and amplified by 'stereotypical Barbie'/(80s/90s Barbie) is no longer the dominant beauty standard being imposed on North American girls.
- I'd argue that this movie is primarily for moms, moms who are part of white middle class culture, and primarily reflects how Barbie impacted that demographic.
- The biggest emotional arc of the movie is about moms too, and Ruth Handler being framed as a 'mom' of Barbie reflects that. (It's interesting to me that Handler IRL was Jewish and so was herself an outsider to US beauty standards. Kind of like how Superman was invented by Jews.)
- There is no coherent theory of power in this movie. But it proposes that change happens by consciousness raising and cleverly 'tricking' the power structure into giving up power. There are echos of Trump and gestures at constitutional threats that are a focus of many in this particular demographic. Consciousness raising is a central aspect of white 2nd wave feminisms (not saying every individual in this movement was white, saying it is a part of the white-dominated culture of that movement).
- America Ferrera's seemingly no-nonsense working class(?) Latina sensibilities are instrumentalized - she is the one who can talk some sense into Barbie (and everyone) with her 'real talk' about women's roles. And ultimately as a supporting character she exists to support Barbie's emotional development.

Good movies do many things at once and I would count this as a good movie. It has lots of different messages and dimensions so I'm not trying to bag on the movie. I'm just interested in what kinds of feminisms it's interested in.
posted by latkes at 8:35 AM on August 1, 2023 [9 favorites]

Oh and my favorite thing about this movie is how the physical performances reflect the doll - for example, in the dance sequences, they are often posed with their elbows bent like a Barbie. The scene where Barbie sits down and then lies on her face is one of the funniest, but lots of more subtle things like this.
posted by latkes at 8:37 AM on August 1, 2023 [12 favorites]

why did Gloria do that amazing speech about the contradictions of 'womanhood' under the patriarchy without offering ANY solutions other than to distract the Kens whilst they reinstated a constitution that appeared to do nothing for equality

So I think that this piece really addresses kind of my feelings about the movie, which I think while I enjoyed, I came away a little disappointed by, and I think it's a combination of the hype and inherent tension of the movie and the expectations everyone came into it with.

So people who came in expecting it to be A Barbie Movie were like 'wow this is hella radical', but I personally saw all the love it was getting and somehow managed to forget that this movie had to be produced under Mattel's brand and intellectual property and expected it to be a 'burn it all down' movie and so was kind of disappointed at a number of points.

But also I can accept that the movie is actually super meta because it IS the solution in some ways, because a *lot* of nice midwestern moms are still seeing this movie regardless of what Fox says because their daughters are dragging them. And so they are the equivalent of the kidnapped Barbies, they have been brought to the movie by a deprogrammed Barbie, and during the movie the inherent contradictions may act to deprogram them. And then they too may act to deprogram others. And the rebellion of "just patronize the Kens and pretend you're interested in their shit while you VOTE TO CHANGE IT" sure may not be the radical rebellion the already deprogrammed Barbies or excited leftists need but actually it's kind of hugely radical for the people who come in programmed to think that fetching plates for the men is the important life work they should be doing.

So I've really come around: the movie is good, I don't personally feel the need to watch it more times, but it's a really important movie all the same.
posted by corb at 9:56 AM on August 1, 2023 [24 favorites]

- I'd argue that this movie is primarily for moms, moms who are part of white middle class culture, and primarily reflects how Barbie impacted that demographic.

I would disagree with you here. I have a lot of diverse young women (all around the 23-26-year-old range) and child free women in my life and, to a one, they have loved this movie and the messaging in it. I identified with the mom stuff and the patriarchy/toxic masculinity stuff, while they're identifying as daughters and also with the patriarchy/toxic masculinity stuff. The patriarchy/toxic masculinity aspects resonated with my husband and with my male friends, in that they recognize that they have received advantages from it while also being harmed by it.

I really think this movie is for everyone.
posted by cooker girl at 10:23 AM on August 1, 2023 [10 favorites]

One thing that I noticed on the politics side is that Barbie's character arc is basically overcoming white fragility? Stereotypical Barbie doesn't want to leave Dreamland, and reacts to challenges to her place in the world by running away crying, and then collapsing entirely. And then she gets rescued by the real people and educated, and does better, and her happy ending is embracing reality. That was pretty great.
posted by mersen at 11:29 AM on August 1, 2023 [17 favorites]

the specifically oppressive body standard reflected and amplified by 'stereotypical Barbie'/(80s/90s Barbie) is no longer the dominant beauty standard being imposed on North American girls

The long blonde hair-as-ideal pressure may have lessened a bit, but "be thin at all costs" has not gone away. If only.
posted by praemunire at 12:20 PM on August 1, 2023 [4 favorites]

In San Francisco, yesterday afternoon, a friend asked, wanna see it again, and it turns out the showings are still packed.
posted by Pronoiac at 12:50 PM on August 1, 2023 [2 favorites]

Barbie-ology: Your “Barbie” Character, According to Your Zodiac Sign [Autostraddle]
posted by ellieBOA at 7:36 AM on August 2, 2023 [1 favorite]

trust Blindboy to carve out a take that relevantly shades our relish of this film. (And also nails a tribute to a fellow Irish standout).
posted by progosk at 7:55 AM on August 2, 2023 [1 favorite]

Mod note: This comment by Tom Hanks Can't Be Trusted was flagged a lot as a fantastic comment and has been added to the Sidebar on the home page, Best Of Blog, Facebook, Instagram, Mefi.Social, and TikTok.
posted by Brandon Blatcher (staff) at 8:13 AM on August 2, 2023 [21 favorites]

Finally got to see it ! Some notes

- it made me immediately want to go home and play with dolls with my little girl. The film really hit some feminine lived experience emotional beats, wow.

- Gloria’s husband was just as much a dimensionless side piece as Ken is for Barbie

- the Gos nailed it and his crying scene was amazing. He hit the right tone for real emotion and laughs. “I’m a liberated man I know it’s ok to cry.” And wonderful that even after all that Barbie still didn’t feel anything for him and was honest about that. That’s a huge message. She naturally just didn’t need him. She didn’t dance around his ego.

- speaking of dancing, that storming the beach turned West Side Story was delightful start to finish.

- that scene where she falls over and gives up and lies on her face and her hair! Omg the way her hair parts and folds over itself is so exactly like a doll and the attention to detail. It was every discarded Barbie ever.

- the last line about the gynecologist was amazing and not at all reductive. Barbie has decided to be real and messy and live life up close and a vagina (messy periods! Sexual awakening! Giving birth to new humans!) is a great metaphor for her embracing head on being alive.
posted by St. Peepsburg at 12:01 AM on August 3, 2023 [12 favorites]

I also read that the target audience for this movie is genX moms and their tween daughters and that tracks. GenX girls grew up with that rejection of femininity crap (“I’m not like those girls; I’m a cool girl”) so I think one reason why this movie resonates huge is it’s like the reclamation of pink and feminine; I was saying to my husband this hits the emotional beats of a girl growing up but sincerely appreciating it and not girl dumbing it down or making it the man’s interpretation of girlhood if you know what I mean. Barbie has agency and she grows up on her terms.
posted by St. Peepsburg at 12:07 PM on August 3, 2023 [7 favorites]

Love all this commentary. And I and all my friends (of many groups) thought this movie was...

...excuse me for one second...

posted by BlackLeotardFront at 3:25 PM on August 3, 2023 [10 favorites]

I am surprised by all the people saying the movie was a mess or that the plot didn't make sense. In my read of it the things people call messy are part of the genius of Barbie: throughout, it always keeps the logic of how little girls playing with dolls would move the story forward. So Will Ferrell's character and the leaders of Mattel respond to the crisis by running around panicking and trying to capture Barbie? Makes perfect sense. Solving conflict with a doll fight that turns into a dance battle? Hell yes.

That was one of the most powerful aspects of the film, and it kept making me cry. Gerwig took the way that girls play with dolls and, instead of treating that as something to be ridiculed, something ridiculous and immature, treated it with reverence and love, as something beautiful in itself - it's one of the most subversive things about Barbie. It's a way of caring about girls' play that is so rare that I didn't even realize how touching it would be to see it on the screen.

I've been thinking about this for days since seeing the movie. I am amazed that Barbie treats such serious themes and has so much to say about identity, patriarchy, loss, growing up, and dying while also being utterly hilarious and never losing the feel of girls playing with dolls. It's masterful.
posted by medusa at 8:44 AM on August 4, 2023 [36 favorites]

I went to watch this again tonight, and not only was my local theater selling out 3 screens of this still today, 2 weeks after the premiere, but women were still dressing up to go see it.
posted by jeoc at 7:27 PM on August 4, 2023 [5 favorites]

Barbie is a movie where someone says "men hate women and women hate women and it's pretty much the only thing we agree on" and how does that film even come back from there? HOW IS THAT IN A BARBIE MOVIE?

And yet that is part of the brilliance of the movie, right? Where I live, there is a lot of truth in that statement. While (finally) watching the movie, that stuck out. The line was said and the movie went on. As if the statement was just a known thing.

I am profoundly glad this movie exists. I am amazed it was allowed to be created. Can't wait to rewatch at home where I can pause and catch EVERYTHING that I missed. (so many references!)

It was definitely worth the price of admission.
posted by a non mouse, a cow herd at 4:38 AM on August 5, 2023 [6 favorites]

I'd get a Kenough tie-dye, but I'm a lady so maybe that's not appropriate.

I genuinely believe that if you feel a connection to the idea of being Kenough, you should claim it. As other excellent comments have said, this movie is thoroughly camp. And playing with the boundaries of gender is 100% in the spirit of this story, even if it was done in a way that's palatable for mainstream (not right-wing, just middling) audiences.
posted by harriet vane at 5:43 AM on August 5, 2023 [8 favorites]

I'd get a Kenough tie-dye, but I'm a lady so maybe that's not appropriate.

My Instagram ads have turned completely Barbie themed which I don’t mind, and half the models in the knockoff Kenough hoodies are women, so I think having Kenergy is gender neutral!
posted by ellieBOA at 7:57 AM on August 5, 2023 [4 favorites]

I thought a lot of the conflict stemmed from them being filtered through a child's perspective. The Beach fight is done using weapons that kids would use to fight with each other.

Haven't cackled that hard in a long time.
posted by chronic sublime at 5:27 PM on August 5, 2023 [2 favorites]

I have so many things to say about this movie. Firstly, my screening was full of people laughing and reacting, but hardly ever to the same things. I cackled at the definition of fascism, and the young man at Mattel saying "I'm a man without power, am I a woman?" (I'm convinced that Judith Butler would find that hilarious). I giggled every time I saw new horses. My husband let out a loud "hah!" at the dig at Zack Snyder and the 4 hour guitar session, and said "aww" every time Allan was onscreen. Someone said "ouch" at the BBC Pride and Prejudice gag, someone else laughed every time Weird Barbie was in the splits. It just seemed to hit different sweet spots for everyone.

Secondly, holy crap I'm grateful for the nuanced discussion here, and linked from here. Everywhere else has the most basic three reactions: Woke Mind Virus grifting, Meh It's Fine But Not Serious Drama, or It's Amazing Give Gosling An Oscar.

The only other place I'm seeing thoughtful takes is on TikTok, probably because I'm on the feminist side of that app. Lots of discussion about the constant need for Feminism 101, and how some young women are disappointed in it because they were hoping for a live action version of the animated direct-to-video/streaming Barbie movies they grew up with. Which is a legitimate disappointment I think - we just had that for Super Mario, why not Barbie? But I didn't grow up with those so I'm not invested in that discussion. I'm all about Gerwig and Robbie investigating what Barbie symbolises.

Because (thirdly) she is *just* a symbol. After Gloria's monologue, she asks how can a doll bear that burden any better than a human? And I think the same goes for a movie. It's a consumer entertainment taking 2 hours, it's not going to solve the patriarchy for us. It can raise consciousness, which is necessary but not sufficient. But it can't really offer any solution that real-life women haven't found yet.

And it can't speak to every woman's experience either. I liked Sacha's "go white saviour Barbie!" snark at the time, but didn't particularly note it. Later when I saw a couple of white feminists calling it cringe, I had to think about it more. It's not cringe, that's their fragility speaking. In the story, two working class women of colour have to explain to a white woman how the world works so she can fix everything. Outside of the story, the movie shows how Barbie was intended to show little girls they could be more than mothers, and what a seismic shift that was. Representation matters! But at that time, the conditioning of girls into mothers was just for middle to upper class white women. Lower class white women and women of colour were also expected to do physical labour on top of the mothering. Nursing, cleaning, factory work, not lawyering or politics. So in that way, using Barbie to tell a Feminism 101 story is great because of the reach it will have into non-feminist spaces. But it can't escape Barbie's own limitations, and the most you can do is acknowledge them, point them out with a bit of a joke.

TikTok has also shown me a lot of personal reactions to the movie - not reviews, just women (and a few men) sharing how it affected them, reflecting on what it says about their own lives. Wanting to hug their mum, apply for a promotion, book that doctors appointment you've been putting off, being thrilled/disappointed at their partner's reaction to it. And I think that's the true measure of how good the movie is. People are letting it affect their real lives.
posted by harriet vane at 8:35 PM on August 5, 2023 [21 favorites]

I think it has done much more good work as-is than it would have done if were an on-the-nose polemic.
posted by argybarg at 9:08 PM on August 5, 2023 [1 favorite]

two working class women of colour

I've seen a couple references to this, and it puzzles me. Executive assistant to the CEO of Mattel, as Ferrera's character seems to be, may not be "professional" work, but it is not a working-class job. She'd be making six figures at least--underpaid in relation to her contribution, sure, but well beyond "working class." Probably more than most of those cubicle dwellers on the lower floor. She's driving a shiny new car that starts at $65K!
posted by praemunire at 10:54 PM on August 5, 2023 [10 favorites]

That's a fair call. I can't edit it, but yes, two women of colour is a more accurate way to describe them. I'm also a bit iffy on "women", but I was thinking of Sasha as being old enough to understand the patriarchy rather than a little girl, so I hope folks will take it in that spirit.
posted by harriet vane at 3:42 AM on August 6, 2023 [3 favorites]

loved Gloria's husband's Duolingo attempts
I am not quite sure in my head how "Duolingo the movie" would work - (aside from that it would certainly have undertones of constant low level threat) - but certainly one for Gerwig to have a go at.

I found Barbie to be a very LA movie. Just like The Wizard of Oz is never really not about Kansas so Barbieland never really seems to get that far away from Venice beach, Santamonica and El Segundo where Mattell have their headquarters. So the "real world" is still very much The City of Angels or La La Land or Tinseltown.

Barbie's global sales have now topped $1 billion - breaking the record for a single female director.
posted by rongorongo at 10:51 PM on August 6, 2023 [2 favorites]

Lovely interview with Gerwig in W Magazine (published last month): The filmmaker talks creating a Shakespearean Barbieland, subverting expectations, and using Mattel’s massive IP to realize her dreams.
posted by Coaticass at 3:33 AM on August 7, 2023 [3 favorites]

I got this link via the strikes coverage, but parts of this is relevant here: SAG-AFTRA, WGA Strikes Are Trying to Topple a Broken Industry
I feel for creatives like Gerwig who are experiencing this tension, but the credulous acceptance, or even celebration, of filmmakers collecting the bag in the IP shuffle seems to take “no ethical consumption under late-stage capitalism” to mean no possibility of ethical production, either. As pointed out by Caspar Salmon in The Guardian regarding Barbie — and observed two years ago by writer Haley Nahman on influencer culture — personal responsibility still exists, and only really means anything coming from people with power and leverage.

For those of us without power over industry, small choices may lead to bigger shifts. I don’t have an Amazon account, even though it’s a net negligible impact on the company's global power, because I have so few ways of doing anything, and to do nothing hurts me more than it hurts them. F*ck that. Some deals with the devil burn more than I’m willing to tolerate. There’s not much we can do, but what’s the harm in trying anyway?

Whether or not the film is good, Barbie (I saw it and liked it, for what that’s worth) is the Helen of Troy of Warner Bros. Discovery, Trojan horse-ing positive vibes and “affirmative” aesthetics to overcompensate for or obscure the company’s dogged commitment to moneymaking at any cost. If the film had flopped, it could’ve been justification for studios watching Barbie closely as an industry bellwether to deem diversity unprofitable — an argument TV and film creators say the studios are quietly making, with workers and audiences bearing the consequences. But its success may be justification for continuing the IP slog.

In the meantime, there’s still hope in the intention behind the film, a longtime form of resistance by filmmakers: Take the check and make the art how you want, using their tools. We’ll keep seeing films like Bottoms, How to Blow Up a Pipeline, and Pearl, all examples of genre cinema that can be produced relatively cheaply (in comparison to the millions blown on cinematic universes) while giving marginalized writers, directors, and actors the reins.

posted by cendawanita at 5:04 AM on August 7, 2023 [2 favorites]

One thing I’ve been thinking about a lot since this became a hit, and even more so now that it’s a juggernaut - there’s no way that the studios + Mattel won’t force a sequel. And I can’t see how that won’t undo all the good things this one achieved. Especially if Gerwig isn’t / isn’t interested in being involved. I hate the idea that someone out there is already planning to find a way to put Barbie back in the box. I’m hoping that when (because there’s pretty much zero chance there’s an if) that happens, it can at least be handled with as much care as the Lego movies, because I would hate to see this turned into junk by association. That the lesson will be more smart, funny movies that take women seriously, and not more pink silly movies with women and Ryan Gosling in them.
posted by Mchelly at 5:39 AM on August 7, 2023 [2 favorites]

Gerwig has said she’s open to a sequel.
posted by ellieBOA at 5:45 AM on August 7, 2023 [1 favorite]

Gerwig has said she’s open to a sequel.

She made a movie about feminism, might as well move onto racism next.

(/not sarcasm)
posted by fiercekitten at 7:36 AM on August 7, 2023 [6 favorites]

I could totally see a sequel but not in the same camp vein; now it’s a serious movie with the premise that Barbie and Ken are adults with genitals and navigating what it means to be a true man / woman / fully formed person in this new world. I think if they did it correctly it’d be amazing.
posted by St. Peepsburg at 2:56 PM on August 7, 2023 [2 favorites]

^^ then the ending of that movie I could actually see Barbie and Ken falling in love with each other; having become fully formed adults and self actualized people, on their own, with their individual arcs, they meet each other again in a place where they’re capable of a mature and healthy love. “It’s like we were made for each other!” is the final one-liner.
posted by St. Peepsburg at 4:04 PM on August 7, 2023 [6 favorites]

Why Margot Robbie was the perfect person to play Barbie [Tiktok]
posted by ellieBOA at 2:10 PM on August 8, 2023

Um, this TikTok lady clearly does not know a whole lot about Harley Quinn. Yes, the original Suicide Squad movie was shitty in that regard (as it was in most regards, frankly), but...I would have said that Robbie is really good at depicting characters whose sharp intelligence runs askew to convention. That's not quite what Robbie-Barbie is at the beginning of the movie--she's literally stereotypical Barbie--but by the end something else has emerged in her.
posted by praemunire at 2:38 PM on August 8, 2023 [2 favorites]

A Barbie sequel seems likely, but also I believe someone mentioned a Ruth Handler tax evasion movie?
posted by mersen at 7:22 AM on August 9, 2023 [4 favorites]

At least one cultural critic did not drink the pink kool-aid (although she does appreciate the colors!)
posted by latkes at 8:51 PM on August 9, 2023 [3 favorites]

"Sick, sad, and crazy?" Whew.
posted by praemunire at 9:20 PM on August 9, 2023

It should have been a musical, and all those message speeches could have been songs to be performed for generations, especially in high school plays. It needed closure, something resolving an inner conflict. It began on the wrong foot by telling us that girls played with baby dolls, until Barbie came along, but that's the realization she was supposed to make after meeting her maker at the end. Needed more inspiration from the Wizard of Oz. I fully realize that design can carry a movie, but it could have been great also.
posted by Brian B. at 7:31 PM on August 11, 2023 [1 favorite]

Mchelly: "I’m hoping that when (because there’s pretty much zero chance there’s an if) that happens, it can at least be handled with as much care as the Lego movies, because I would hate to see this turned into junk by association."

If there's a way to make a Barbie-Batman-Lego movie, I'd go see it.
posted by signal at 5:58 PM on August 14, 2023 [1 favorite]

Broey Deschanel's Feeling Cynical About Barbie
- her criticism comes from a place of love - but also unease. I thought the details about Mattel's El Segundo tours for Hollywood directors where they offer them the chance to pick a toy to make a film about (Gerwig got first pick). Also the news that Barbie's marketing budget ($150 million) was greater than its production budget ($145 million). Kids may be buying and playing with fewer toys these days - but there is gold buried in the IP from the back catalogue.
posted by rongorongo at 2:42 AM on August 16, 2023 [3 favorites]

I've seen a lot of "Barbie is really a movie about Ken" takes, arguing that Ken gets more attention than Barbie, and... I'm not sure that that's true? Ken certainly gets a lot of attention—even if most of it is focused on how little attention Ken receives—but I'm curious whether it's that Ken's place in the film so revolves around toxicity and patriarchy that it's just a lot more pungent than Barbie's material, or if y'all here feel like Barbie's a passive consumer of her own story.

(Personally, I thought Barbie got a lot of fleshing-out as a character and I appreciated that her arc revolves more around emotional exploration and conflict, i.e. the kinds of things that Ursula K Le Guin would call "mother tongue" dilemmas, whereas Ken's stuff is all explicitly "father tongue" stuff until his final convo with Barbie. And I'm half-convinced that the reason so many people think that Ken is centered is because we're culturally primed to think of more masculine-coded or violent flavors of action as "real" or "substantial," and to think of subtler material about connection as "soft" or insignificant. But I'm also curious about other people's takes, because there's every chance that I'm doing that blinkered thing of thinking a woman's taking up equal space to a man the moment she makes up 30% of a conversation.)
posted by Tom Hanks Cannot Be Trusted at 7:50 AM on August 20, 2023 [4 favorites]

I think the question of whether Barbie gets more attention than Ken is really a question of where someone is starting from.

I wound up having a conversation with my daughter after she saw the movie, and we wound up focusing on the amount of emotional awareness people watching the movie had about themselves and their relationships, which kind of goes back to my point about the real point of this movie being to awaken people who might not have considered these things deeply, and to get other people to go drag people there to consider these things. I don't remember much about Barbie's journey, because I don't need Barbie's journey, I've already had Barbie's journey, now I'm on the post-Barbie's journey. Ken sticks in my mind because there are a *lot* of men I still need to take Ken's journey. There are a lot of men that exist only when a woman looks at them that I need to understand that they can be Kenough without needing a woman and the adulation of other men to fill this aching void of insecurity within themselves. So that sticks with me, and I wonder: will that seed trickle through?
posted by corb at 8:21 AM on August 20, 2023 [14 favorites]

I would be curious how much screen time they each get; my guess is Ken gets almost as much as Barbie, maybe more. But his character is also just very compelling: lots of scenery chewing, more cluelessness played for laughs, more mean, funnier outfits (which plays on folks unconscious homophobia because why is a guy wearing a fur and headband 'funny'? Just our culturally determined expectations.). None of this is a criticism exactly. I think this is not an uncommon 'problem' in movies: the villain is more compelling than the hero, not that he's exactly a villain. There's the added challenge possibly impossibility of trying to make a feminist Barbie movie.
posted by latkes at 8:53 AM on August 20, 2023 [3 favorites]

I didn't think Ken got more attention, but I do think Barbie's journey isn't quite as cleanly laid out. "I want to be a maker of meaning"--as opposed to "I want to be in a world where I can change and grow and learn things and participate in the full cycle of life"--felt like it came out of nowhere.
posted by praemunire at 9:21 AM on August 20, 2023 [1 favorite]

Yanis Varoufakis jumps the shark:

Watched Barbie last night. Went in fearing that I might be won over. Misplaced fear. Found it excruciatingly awful. Shame on progressive-feminist critics who gave it good reviews. A triumph of corporate propaganda over cinematic values/art. Miss it if you can!
7:02 AM · Aug 21, 2023

posted by chavenet at 1:58 AM on August 21, 2023

I'm not so sure whether Ken gets more screen time than Barbie in the movie - but I've definitely seen Ryan Gosling get more attention than Margot Robbie in the press about the movie, and maybe that is influencing people's perception of the movie in memory.
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 3:40 AM on August 21, 2023 [5 favorites]

One consideration is that Ken’s story arc is a little uncommonly seen in movies, but very timely for our culture, and that’s why we’re talking so much about it (plus I mean Ryan’s delivery in that soliloquy is… excuse me one second… SUBLIME!) Coming of age stories are abound but a story where someone works through some deep feelings of inner lacking, not as much. Like they feel like they should have greatness, but the arc is that they do not achieve greatness, do not get the girl, but resolve their inner sense of lack instead and that’s it, no giant payoff (usually getting the girl is short hand signifier for inner growth achieved but it’s often not how it is!)

Off hand I can only think of Adaptation and (weakly) It’s a Wonderful Life as movies that explore that theme.
posted by St. Peepsburg at 10:30 AM on August 21, 2023 [3 favorites]

Oh gosh and I just realized, both Barbie and Ken felt this pressure to be exceptional and leaning in to this averageness is their way out and through. That’s why the song is “I’m just Ken”… he’s not only “just Ken” by comparison to Barbie, he’s just Ken by comparison to the world. I’m “just” what I am and it’s enough.

And more reflection: I can see why people would feel attacked by this movie, if you’re performing masculinity on a conscious or subconscious level, watching a character attempt the same and end hyper masculine (kinda reminded me of Brad Pitt’s character in fight club TBH) then it stings. It’s the exaggerated conclusion of any kind of false front (oh but I’m not like THAT) but the excessive performing rings true (and so it must be attacked because heaven forbid I admit to myself I’m just an eensy bit like that).

Man what an amazing movie so much to unpack!
posted by St. Peepsburg at 12:17 PM on August 21, 2023 [4 favorites]

Man what an amazing movie so much to unpack!

Substantial creative work rewards repeated attention.
posted by LooseFilter at 1:09 PM on August 21, 2023 [4 favorites]

(this is a maxim I say to my music students on repeat)
posted by LooseFilter at 1:10 PM on August 21, 2023 [2 favorites]

* Deep thoughts on doll sexuality:

Heteronormativity is really about gender, not sex, though. The dolls not having genitals helps amplify that distinction.
posted by eviemath at 7:46 AM on August 23, 2023 [2 favorites]

For myself, it would have been cooler if the Barbie Liberation Organization had made an appearance after the Kens’ take-over. But corb makes a good point that the movie can be pro-feminist without necessarily being for me and where I am at in my feminism.

(That ending was still a bit of a mess of loose ends. But it was a stylistically fun movie.)
posted by eviemath at 8:44 AM on August 23, 2023 [2 favorites]

There are a lot of men that exist only when a woman looks at them that I need to understand that they can be Kenough without needing a woman and the adulation of other men to fill this aching void of insecurity within themselves.

What a great comment, QFT.
posted by LooseFilter at 11:31 AM on August 23, 2023 [5 favorites]

I never played with dolls as a child and stopped calling myself a woman a few years ago. For ever shapers context: today-right before our screening of Barbie-was the first time I determined that my gender presentation was masc enough that I shouldn’t use the theater’s women’s restroom.

During and immediately after the movie I was distinctly disappointed with the extreme normativity of the movie, despite being entertained while watching it (lol, what did I expect). The spotlighted comment by Tom Hanks Cannot Be Trusted has turned me around on it.

It’d be nice if an overtly pink, feminine, and popular film would also hold space for embracing non-conforming identities and aesthetics. I also yearned for actual connection between Ken and Barbie—not romantic, but respect and cooperation, along the lines of “we’re all people”.

I recognize that I’m pretty far from the target audience. It wasn’t until writing this comment that I put a shape to my hunger for a movie that will speak to my gender the way that Everything Everywhere spoke to my mental health and family dynamic.
posted by itesser at 10:37 PM on August 27, 2023 [9 favorites]

normal brain: clocking doctor barbie

solar system brain: clocking allan, the eggiest egg

galaxy brain: clocking stereotypical barbie, who acquires a vagina through force of will

When it started I felt apprehensive because the cultural moment had passed and it would feel like empty weird hype. It didn't, it was great! Most of what I could say about it has been said above and better. This movie is walking a tough line, trying to be a lot of things, and it mostly pulls it off. Even when it doesn't there's gonna be something coming in from a different angle in the next few seconds so don't worry about it.

It's not like, entirely erasing, but I think it's coming from an extremely cis het place. I think that's fine. Barbie doesn't have to be the complete text. Anyway that's where gender comes from so strike at the source right. I wonder if in Barbieland there are those who think that the shape of one's crotch bump is what its actually all about.

Robbie did a great job. Beyond perfect for the role. Gosling did okay, though Ken is a very hammy role and I suspect it's a lot easier to work with that.
posted by fleacircus at 2:32 AM on November 16, 2023 [8 favorites]

‘There was no way that I wasn’t going to do whatever was asked of me’: Mark Ronson and Andrew Wyatt on making the Barbie soundtrack [Guardian / Archive]
posted by ellieBOA at 3:56 PM on November 30, 2023 [1 favorite]

Finally saw this and wish I liked it more. I'm really happy with this film's role in The American Discourse this year and how many people connected with its feminist themes. It's interesting and smart! And well produced. Margot Robbie is great, so is America Ferrera.

But... somehow I found myself mostly being bored. I think I was too spoiled maybe, nothing surprised me. Although Weird Barbie was genuinely better than I expected.

Mostly I found myself wishing the film were more queer somehow. I don't quite know how. I think it's great to have a mostly heterosexual feminist film. Plenty of folks above have talked about heteronormativity and trans representation and camp.. I don't think the film was insufficiently LGBT or something but I do wonder what a gayer touch would have done to the film. This may be my clumsy effort as a gay man to connect better to a film that really isn't about my experiences.
posted by Nelson at 5:23 PM on November 30, 2023 [1 favorite]

America Ferrara gave a fantastic speech after receiving the SeeHer Award at the Critics Choice Awards.
posted by ellieBOA at 3:24 PM on January 16

I agree the film lacked more LGBTQness, but isn't Barbie's journey in the movie in itself a literal, physical transition?
posted by signal at 8:07 AM on January 17

Barbie’s transition in the movie was in the tradition of dolls/robots/automata becoming human (Pinocchio, The Velveteen Rabbit, etc.), not in the tradition of gender confirmation surgery.
posted by eviemath at 10:54 AM on January 17 [2 favorites]

I think queer people have pretty strong claims on any kind of transformation story, but I don't really think Gerwig and Baumbach were thinking about that.
posted by fleacircus at 5:27 AM on January 18

Barbie's very clearly asexual, if that um, helps with anything?
posted by jenfullmoon at 8:20 AM on January 18

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