Excerpted from Lovia Guyarkye’s THR Barbie review, posted at 4 pm: “Barbieland is feminist utopia as inversion of our patriarchal reality.
“Barbie and Ken are a version of Eve and Adam, if Eve were God’s favorite and Adam acknowledged as the liability he was.
“After an unplanned detour separates her from Ken, Barbie makes her way back home [from the real world]. ready to restore perfection to her routine. But her homecoming is a dour one; Barbie returns to see that Ken, armed with his newfound knowledge of the patriarchy, has transformed Barbieland.”
Wait…a JOE POPCORN-ISH REACTION from a 30something guy who saw Barbie earlier this afternoon:
“You have absolutely no idea how anti-male Barbie is. Wait until you see it — it’s a landmine of outrage waiting to happen. There will be heated debate…some people are going to HATE it. I mean, there’s a trans Barbie…”
HE to 30something Guy: “Is Ryan Gosling’s Ken a kind of villain figure or…?”
30something Guy: “He turns into a villain, yes. An alpha male who realizes he doesn’t need Barbie in his life and that he can control women.”
HE to 30something guy: “Are you telling me he’s not gay in the film?”
30something Guy: “He loves Barbie.”
HE to 30something Guy: “WHAT? All the guys in the film obviously look and dress gay, but they’re straight? Every single trailer and photo of Ken says ‘this guy obviously isn’t straight.’ The Ken doll with the cock ring….obviously not straight….c’mon!”
From Peter Debruge‘s Variety review: “In the year 2023, it would be a shock (and box-office suicide) if Barbie arrived without some kind of female-empowerment message baked in.
“This one checks all the right boxes, while making Ryan Gosling’s dumb-dumb Ken the butt of most of its gender-equity jokes. Boasting fresh tracks from Billie Eilish and Lizzo, the result is a very funny kids’ movie with a freshman liberal arts student’s vocabulary that tosses around terms like ‘patriarchy’ and ‘appropriation’ — pretty much everything but ‘problematic,’ which the movie implies without actually calling Barbie’s legacy.”
Letterbox’d, A.A. Dowd: “Barbie is practically the textbook definition of corporate feminism, but it knows that too, of course, and is earnest in using the platform of a big-budget toy commercial to speak to the audience about the patriarchy; there’s a big speech that recalls the one Laura Dern delivers in Marriage Story, which makes me wonder if Baumbach counterintuitively wrote this one or if Gerwig helped him write that one.
“Even its lionization of the woman behind Barbie comes with an asterisk. The whole thing is animated by neurosis more than joy, which is what I found most interesting about it: Is there a little of Gerwig’s offscreen wrestling with the assignment in Barbie’s onscreen existential crisis? Wish it was a little funnier.”