The most intriguing irony defining Barbie is that, it’s a riotous satire of patriarchy, consumerism and the shallow beauty standards that the eponymous dolls had embodied and glorified, and yet it was also promoted through gimmicky marketing blitzkrieg that reinforced the very attributes the film lampooned. It’s, therefore, fascinating not just on account of Greta Gerwig – who’d established her toehold in the industry as an actor in low-budget Indie cinema, and demonstrated her understated feminist streak thereafter as a filmmaker – helming a big-budget studio movie as this, but more so in how she succeeded in making such a subversive and feminist work despite it being produced by Mattel Inc., the very organization that was responsible for these plastic, vacuous and regressive toys. One half of the pop-culture frenzy “Barbenheimer” – a portmanteau that was coined despite Barbie and Oppenheimer being two diametrically opposite works, in order to indicate the hype that presaged their simultaneous theatrical releases, and the gargantuan blockbusters that both became even though they were far removed from straightforward mass entertainers – its deliberately garish colour palette and kitschy aesthetics served as apt juxtapositions to its silly fantasy and comedic portrayal of Barbieland, a joyous matriarchal society inhabited by, among others, the ravishing Stereotypical Barbie (Margot Robbie) who, upon experiencing existential crisis, takes a trip to the grimy real world in company of a drooling Beach Ken (Ryan Gosling). That leads to widespread repercussions, including among the all-male Mattel executives led by its CEO (Will Farrell), a disenchanted mother-daughter combo, and Barbieland’s motley residents. The narrative’s messy, self-conscious and meta elements were both its unique strength and, by kind-of embracing the very artifice that it parodied, also its failing.
Director: Greta Gerwig
Genre: Comedy/Black Comedy/Social Satire/Fantasy