One of the most exciting and anticipated films of the year, Greta Gerwig’s Barbie, is set to release worldwide this week. The film promotions have been all pink and plastic, making the film a part of pop culture much before its release.
In my opinion, the promotional team’s masterstroke has kept much of the film’s content mysterious. If you think about it, we don’t know what exactly Barbie is about. From the looks of it, it looks like a fun film that is also a feminist reimagination of the popular Mattel doll.
However, it is also promoted as the first live-action adaptation of the sensational doll. The trailer and teaser make it look quite funny and entertaining, with little to no serious content. But Gerwig and the cast have always maintained that the film has a social message attached to it.
In other words, we can only find out what Barbie is all about when we head to the theaters to watch Gerwig’s most anticipated film. But before you get your tickets, it would be helpful to learn whether the film is worth your time or not.
The early reviews of Barbie look sensational and hint that Barbie is worth all the pinkness of your heart! But as always, we’re here to help you decide. Let’s talk about the early reviews of Barbie, the criticisms, and our final verdict.
1. Early Reviews of Barbie: Gerwig’s Barbie World is Truly Fantastic!
The Barbie movie has been receiving rave reviews from critics at large. The early reviews of the film call it the “triumph of the year,” “a nuanced commentary, and “perfection.
Here are some of the reviews and what it says about the film:
“‘Barbie’ is perfection. Greta Gerwig delivers a nuanced commentary on what it means to be a woman in a whimsical, wonderful, and laugh-out-loud funny romp. The entire cast shines, especially Margot Robbie and Ryan Gosling in roles they were clearly born to play.”Variety
“I can’t officially quit Twitter before telling you all that ‘Barbie’ is currently my favorite film of the year. Greta Gerwig somehow exceeded my expectations. She tackles the positives and negatives of Barbie so beautifully. Give Ryan Gosling an Oscar nomination, I’m dead serious!”ComicBook.Com
“I have seen ‘Barbie!’ The craftsmanship is incredible. In particular, the costume & production design includes next-level work that heavily contributes to creating the feeling that these truly are Barbies, their dream houses, and their worlds come to life. As for the story, that’s where I’m a bit more mixed. I think the film serves Margot Robbie’s Barbie and her journey especially well, but there are other characters experiencing important arcs that needed more screen time to really dig into and explore to the fullest.”Collider
“I saw ‘Barbie The Movie’ and Greta Gerwig left me all in my feelings as did the production design, costumes, Hair and makeup! I was living for the dance numbers led by Simu Liu! It’s overblown fun with a feminist twist”Rotten Tomatoes
“‘Barbie’ caught me off guard & I mean that in the best way possible. It’s funny, bombastic, & very smart. Greta Gerwig aims for the fences & hits a home run. Margot Robbie’s performance is great & Ryan Gosling & Simu Liu are pure entertainment! The whole cast is brilliant!”ScreenRant
“So, what exactly is this movie? Even with the onslaught of pink-tinged marketing, Warner Bros. has managed to keep the plot under wraps. I’m not here to spoil the film, which I watched in Gerwig’s temporary office, a gray space in Chelsea accessorized with a magenta Barbie doormat. But I can share that it’s a fun yet self-aware romp with shades of ‘Clueless’ and ‘Legally Blonde.’ It’s also stuffed full of ideas and occasionally overwhelmed by them.”TIME
“Barbie is one of the most inventive, immaculately crafted and surprising mainstream films in recent memory – a testament to what can be achieved within even the deepest bowels of capitalism. While it’s impossible for any studio film to be truly subversive, especially when consumer culture has caught on to the idea that self-awareness is good for business, Barbie gets away with far more than you’d think was possible.”The Independent
From the reviews I’ve quoted above, it is clear that while the film is not completely beyond criticism, it is definitely worth a watch. Critics all praise Ryan Gosling’s performance in particular and have spoken positively about the entertainment factor in the film.
The plot has been kept under wraps even in the early reviews of the film. But most of the reviews confirm that the film is a feminist interpretation of the doll and not just another live-action adaptation of an animated Barbie film.
2. The Barbie Movie: All That is Not So Fantastic!
Though most critics praise the film, they’ve also put forward certain criticisms of the film. Here are some of the points they’ve put forward:
“It stumbles somewhat in the handling of its characters of color. They mostly are used as devices to push the Stereotypical Barbie and Ken narratives forward. There is a tight 95-minute movie here, but it’s crammed with pointless dance scenes and musical numbers that are just filler and nothing else.”Deadline
“It’s a movie that’s enormously pleased with itself. Barbie never lets us forget how clever it’s being, every exhausting minute.” –TIME
“Sadly, no amount of clever marketing can help this hot-pink mess of a movie. The chaotic story, directed by Greta Gerwig, starts in Barbieland, a slightly unnerving, sickly sweet Utopia where Barbies of all different shapes and sizes rule the world. What follows is a hamster wheel of relentless identity crises, musical numbers, tears, tantrums, bland feminist speeches, questionable acting from the huge cast.”The Sun UK
Barbie is an exhausting, spastic, self-absorbed and overwrought disappointment. “The writing, across the board, is lazy. Gerwig and Baumbach’s script doesn’t need to be plausible. It’s about Barbies, for God’s sake.” –The New York Post
While most reviews praise the film for its feminist message, criticism of unrealistic beauty standards, and its message about the democratization of art, some critics seem to have not been impressed by Gerwig’s film.
The main criticism is the film’s constant need to explain what it tries to convey. Many critics have also pointed out the problem with too many filler scenes consisting of song and dance, which does not serve the plot in any way.
3. Verdict: Should you watch The Barbie Movie?
Yes! Considering both the positive and negative reviews, you should watch The Barbie Movie in theaters. While some reviews have pointed out the over-the-top scenes in the film, they’ve also pointed out the important social message that this satirical take on the Mattel doll delivers.
Moreover, after watching Christopher Nolan’s Oppenheimer, which is set to release on the same day, it would be fun to watch Barbie to lighten up your mood. The clash between Oppenheimer and Barbie is a pop-culture phenomenon, so we should all be a part of it as pop-culture lovers!
Another reason why everyone should watch Barbie is because of its message. In their review of the film, The Conversation has stated –
While the film obviously appeals to women, it is men who really need to watch it. Barbie makes a point that those criticizing the doll for being a patriarchal representation of a perfect woman need to her: it’s not a Barbie doll that threatens women’s rights, opportunities, and safety – it’s the patriarchy.
These lines sum up my verdict of the film correctly. Moreover, the clash of Barbie with Oppenheimer has given this ‘healthy’ competition a gendered interpretation. The internet is full of unique reasons why Oppenheimer should be chosen over Barbie as your weekend watch.
Men all over the internet are of the opinion that Barbie is a ‘cartoon movie.’ Since it’s marketed primarily for women, it is not intellectual enough to be watched by them and appreciated by their fragile sense of masculinity.
In other words, a film predominantly marketed to women isn’t worth a watch. I doubt if men with such views have watched a single film by Nolan in their lives, but it seems like Nolan’s complex themes give a boost to their masculinity.
Choosing a film by a director who has a reputation for making films that are ‘hard to understand’ gives a huge boost to the male ego since it proves them superior to ‘common folk’ who choose films that are easy to comprehend.
My reasoning is not against Nolan’s films or Oppenheimer. It’s just important to point out how this clash has quickly become about a superiority complex rather than a fun pop culture phenomenon that we can all enjoy.
Nevertheless, I hope you enjoy watching both Oppenheimer and Barbie in theaters this weekend!
4. About Barbie (2023)
Barbie is a 2023 film directed by Greta Gerwig, who co-wrote the screenplay with Noah Baumbach. It is based on the eponymous fashion doll line by Mattel, and serves as the franchise’s first live-action film adaptation after several computer-animated direct-to-video and streaming television films.
The film stars Margot Robbie and Ryan Gosling as Barbie and Ken respectively. Barbie released in the United States and United Kingdom on July 21, 2023, distributed by Warner Bros. Pictures.