REVIEW | Barbie
It's not often that we could enjoy a campy movie that also makes us think deeply about the gender roles and stereotypes that shaped the world, for good or ill. While self-aware and self-deprecating, Barbie also serves as a deep study of the human journey, giving us a hard and honest look at aging and mortality.
A popular IP would have been critic-proof but filmmaker and co-writer Greta Gerwig did not go on the easy route of using a fluffy story just so she could attract girls to the theaters. While it is based on a doll, the story speaks more to adult women, and hardly, girls, who have lived through multitudes of struggles in a society run by men. This is contrasted to the idealized world of Barbie Land, where the protagonist - the stereotypical Barbie (Margot Robbie) - and other Barbies were not limited to what they could be.
Still, Barbie felt something off with the redundant lifestyle in her world. This sets off a journey with Ken (Ryan Gosling) to the Real World, where the latter discovers gender disparity, patriarchy—and horses. All hell breaks loose as the borders between the world of ideas cross over with reality.
Gerwig and co-writer and partner Noah Baumbach concocted one of the best smart comedies I’ve watched on the best screen, which is best experienced with an eager audience. For the toy enthusiast, there are the pop culture references peppered with the hits-and-misses of Mattel’s toy lines, and even those of Warner Bros. Pictures. For those wanting a straightforward Ken and Barbie love story, there’s a subplot that you might enjoy.
Still, the dance choreographies, colorful clothes, and meta jokes are only cherries on top. Barbie is an existential masterpiece that forces us to confront what we are really doing with our lives. There’s also a bit of stoicism where it teaches us that not being extraordinary is okay after all, and losing the superficial beauty as we go through life - to actually live and breathe - is all worth it.
Barbie is now showing in Philippine cinemas.