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Wichita State's independent, student-run news source

The Sunflower

REVIEW: ‘Barbie’ director continues to tell complicated story of womanhood

Courtesy of IMDb

This Barbie left the movie theater shaking and sobbing about being motherless after yet another Greta Gerwig film.

The much-anticipated, Regal app-crashing blockbuster “Barbie” has debuted in theaters at last after a summer of “Barbenheimer” weekend planning and trademark pink advertising from every company under the sun.

Yes, this is a 90-minute Mattel commercial, and no, I can’t talk about this movie without it sounding like the toy company scripted my every last word. And anyway, it isn’t just a Barbie commercial.

Despite the uncanniness of some scenes (I’m looking at you, goofball Mattel CEO Will Ferrell), the cast is far too charming and the movie’s messaging is far too clear to dismiss as just another IP movie (not sure the same can be said for the 45 other Mattel-based movies in the works).

Gerwig doesn’t shy away from how silly and shameless the advertising feels and even contributes her own full-on ad during the film for a Depression Barbie. 

If you have seen any previews for “Barbie” online or on TV, just know that you can miss about the first twenty minutes because you will recognize nearly all of it. I know that trailers have to use some parts of the movie, but it is getting ridiculous.

The movie begins in Barbieland, where all of the Barbies, Kens, and Allan live with the Barbies in charge of everyday life. Stereotypical Barbie (Margot Robbie) is living the dream life on repeat, day after day until she isn’t. Suddenly, her showers are cold, her milk has expired and her feet are flat.

In order to fix this problem, Weird Barbie (Kate McKinnon) sends Stereotypical Barbie into the Real World to help the child who is playing with her. Of course, Stereotypical Ken (Ryan Gosling) sneaks into Stereotypical Barbie’s car so he can be there for her.

The whole cast is sensational at what they are supposed to do, but Gosling is on a different level. He’s funny, emotional and sells Ken hard. This guy wasn’t kidding about his Kenergy.

I don’t think “Barbie” works with anyone but Gerwig in charge. She deeply understands how wonderful and devastating being a woman is and superimposes this on both our Barbies and human characters.

Throughout her four-movie directorial career, Gerwig seems interested in three things: girlhood, motherhood, and home. She uses Barbie as a tool to show both girls coping with growing up and mothers seeing their daughters grow up.

Gerwig has sympathy for all kinds of women, from the brooding teenage girl, to the ever-worrying mother, to the grandmother with crow’s feet and deep-cut smile lines from a life well-lived.

Part creation myth, part feminist manifesto, and part company propaganda, “Barbie” will certainly change the way you look at the iconic doll and probably change the way you look at your mother, realizing that she too is just a 50-something-year-old little girl playing with her Barbie.

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About the Contributor
Trinity Ramm
Trinity Ramm, Managing Editor
Trinity Ramm is the managing editor and former sports editor for The Sunflower. This is her second year on staff. Ramm is a senior English Lit major and a sociology minor with a certificate in film studies. In her limited spare time, she can be found at the movie theater, browsing some obscure film database or crocheting. Ramm uses she/her pronouns.

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