This piece was written during the 2023 WGA and SAG-AFTRA strikes. Without the labor of the writers and actors currently on strike, tv shows and movies being covered in Fangirlish Feels of the Week wouldn’t exist. We stand with the WGA and SAG-AFTRA.
It’s Barbie’s world. We’re just living in it. At least that’s what Barbie (Margot Robbie) thought in Barbie the movie. To her dismay — and ours — in Barbie, the real world is not perfect and pink like Barbieland. That’s the harsh reality Barbie has to face in the nearly two-hour feature film.
When you think of Barbie, you probably think of pink, blonde hair, her dreamhouse and the best wardrobe. (And maybe Ken.) Coming into the highly-anticipated film, that’s pretty much anyone knew. The trailer didn’t reveal much of a storyline beyond the fact that Barbie would need to travel to the real world. But we were hyped and excited nonetheless, and it didn’t disappoint. The movie follows Barbie as she attempts to return to “normal” after getting flat feet and a small amount of cellulite. The solution? Going to the real world.
With Greta Gerwig at the helm of Barbie, we expected it to be much more than Barbie going on a fun adventure. It’s no surprise Barbie was full of social commentary and emotions that kept us entertained and feeling all the feels. It was relatable, heartbreaking, eye-opening, and everything in between. The movie simultaneously provided an escape from and glimpse into reality through the crossover of Barbieland and the real world.
Astounding Acting with Authenticity
Though Barbie is known for her perfectly curated look, coiffed hair, and positivity, Margot Robbie portrayed Gerwig’s interpretation of the iconic figure with an outstanding range. We never think of Barbie whining about cellulite or bawling over not getting what she wants, yet Robbie nailed those emotions in addition to the traditional perkiness Barbie’s known for. She literally brings the character to life as the doll learns and develops human emotions that are causing conflict in her through Gloria (America Ferrera), the human who played with her doll while her daughter was growing up.
Speaking of Gloria, we didn’t know what to expect from her character, but we were absolutely blown away. People joke that it isn’t a Greta Gerwig movie if there isn’t a monologue from a female character about the essence of what it’s like to be a woman, but it’s true! Gloria’s monologue about the struggles of womanhood and how, no matter what any of us do, it is never enough is a standout moment that deserves a standing ovation. Give her an Oscar!
Another award-worthy performance comes from Ken (Ryan Gosling). And by that, we mean the “main” Ken as there are countless Barbies and Kens in Barbieland. While we do end up spending a lot of the movie rooting against him and the self-destructive patriarchy he brings to Barbieland, Gosling’s performance was perfect. We have no critiques. We certainly know what it’s like to fangirl over someone or something, so we found Ken’s fawning over Barbie to be pretty relatable. Also, “I’m Just Ken” is a musical number for the history books. We love to see men who aren’t afraid to exhibit their emotions through song and dance.
Pretty in Pink, Teeming with Themes
The Barbie doll itself and the entire franchise by Mattel isn’t without controversy or criticism, and Barbie not only addresses that but isn’t afraid to poke fun at themselves. Gerwig’s film is a 114-minute clapback at the haters and is set to be a feminist masterpiece that brings light to social issues and realities of the real world. Barbies of all shapes, colors, and sizes are represented in the film and help overthrow the patriarchy Ken brings to Barbieland. Similarly, Kens of all shapes, colors, and sizes exist in Barbieland. We appreciate that diversity and inclusion even though stereotypical Barbie is still leading the way. And whether you’re a Barbie or a Ken — or even an Allan or a Midge — we loved to see the teamwork and camaraderie of the characters. It gave us all the feels.
As a Greta Gerwig film based on a doll, it’s no surprise Barbie addresses capitalism, the world of corporate America, and other issues that are naturally intertwined with those. But we didn’t feel like anything was being chewed up and spit into our mouths like a mama bird feeding her babies. Sure, things may have literally been spelled out sometimes, but that’s to be expected when non-human characters who live in a perfect world come across human problems for the first time. The movie addresses these issues by weaving them into and coexisting with moments that made us laugh, cry, cringe, and everything in between.
A lot of the promo for Barbie is about how fun, perfect, and pretty Barbie and Barbieland is, but the film reminds us (and teaches Barbie) that there are no rainbows without rain. Because we know what it feels to be at the lowest of lows, we can appreciate the happiest highs even more. But we can’t truly be happy until we find ourselves, whether that’s in Barbieland or in the real world.
Barbie is now playing in theaters.