Barbie and Poor Things are almost exactly the same movie — an attractive, spirited and completely naive (or childlike) young woman in her 20s encounters the big, bad, male-corrupted world for the very first time and somehow finds her way through the thicket, and emerges at the end of the tale with an emboldened, seen-it-all, “done with that bullshit” feminist attitude.
The only difference is that Poor Things is somewhere between throbbingly and obsessively sexual in an early ’70s sense of the term, and Barbie is plastic-ironic PG-rated by way of the Mattel corporation and a determination to be gay without actually being “gay”. Plus the only sexual act Barbie engages in, at the very end, is asking about birth control (“I’m here to see my gynecologist”).
Poor Things is obviously more perverse, not to mention more wildly imaginative in a Terry Gilliam kinda way, and Barbie is certainly slicker and more superficial in a consumer-friendly, vaguely toothless, wind-up-doll sort of way.
But when you get right down to it and boil out the snow, they’re pretty much the same movie, and this will factor heavily into the final voting for the Best Picture Oscar.
THR‘s Scott Feinberg, posted on 9.3.23: “While more than a few [Telluride] attendees found Poor Things — which I will only describe as Frankenstein meets Barbie, and which Searchlight will release on Dec. 8 — a bit too weird, and/or risqué and/or lengthy for their taste, the critical response to it has been off the charts.”
Critic friendo: “I agree completely [about the Barbie-Poor Things parallels]. I would add, however, that both movies are show-offy yet half-baked. In this context I’m almost enjoying the pile-up of woke piety — the Poor Things splooge fest.”