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  • Gareth Crook

Barbie (2023) - 8/10

I’m expecting to either love or hate this as I press play and smile at the pink Warners logo. As we settle into the opening 2001 parody scene, I quickly decide this will be love. As intros go, it is masterful, with a giant Barbie (Margot Robbie) overseeing small children smashing dolls while Helen Mirren narrates. Let’s skip past the fact that in many ways it’s a two hour advert, for that is missing the point entirely. And to miss the point here is bloody lazy. Barbieworld is a retina searing planet of positivity. Everyone leading their best life, having the best day, waving, smiling. Well apart from Ken (Ryan Gosling) who has something of an inferiority complex. It’s not his world after all. Barbie is changing though, slowly slipping out of her stereotypical perfectness and into dun dun dunnnn “thoughts of death”. With the help of Weird Barbie (Kate McKinnon) it’s explained that whoever is playing with Barbie in the real world is sad and she needs to go there to fix things. Cue the cutting comedy overload as Barbie… and Ken (of course) try to negotiate an upside down reality where sexism and the patriarchy runs rampant. Not only is this a great film with a wonderful cast, half of which seem to have been poached from Sex Education. It’s the sort of film that would stand up to repeated viewing. That’s not to say it’s complex, but if you’re expecting simple slick surface, you’ll need to take that but with some sharp satire, that jumps through parallel universes. It’s an existential trip, with twists, beautiful revelations and bonkers nightmares, that will make you smile, laugh out loud (seriously I nearly choked), cry and… think. All whilst being easily accessible. Robbie and Gosling are magnificent. Robbie always is, but I’ve struggled with Gosling in the past. Here though he gets to show some range and he delivers. Oh and can we talk about Michael Cera as Ken’s mate Allan. What a marvellous role. He’s a deft little pallet cleanser in a sometimes breakneck narrative. In a world of Barbie’s and Ken’s, you want to be Allan. This isn’t a film about a doll and there’s a reason this was a box office smash. It is utterly brilliant from start to finish. It makes no mistakes, no missteps. It’s arch, intelligent, highly entertaining. It should be mandatory viewing.


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