|Screenplay By||Greta Gerwig, Noah Baumbach|
|Based On||The Mattel Icon – Barbie|
|Date Released (In Theaters)||July 20, 2023|
|Genre(s)||Adventure, Comedy, Fantasy|
|Film Length||1 Hour 54 Minutes|
|Content Rating||Rated PG-13|
|Noted Characters and Cast|
|Stereotypical Barbie||Margot Robbie|
|Weird Barbie||Kate McKinnon|
|Beach Ken||Ryan Gosling|
|Mattel CEO||Will Ferrell|
|Ruth Handler||Rhea Perlman|
|Beach Ken Rival Ken||Simu Liu|
What Is “Barbie” Rated And Why?
“Barbie” is Rated PG-13 because:
- Dialog: Occasional innuendo and a bleeped Motherf***er
- Violence: The Kens do get into a fight, but it is a silly battle
- Sexual Content: There is sexual harassment when Barbie comes to the real world, including her being assaulted via getting slapped on the behind
- Miscellaneous: Nothing notable
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In the matriarchal society of Barbie World, women rule everything, and all the different Barbies think they have influenced the real world and it is as perfect as their world. Unfortunately, that couldn’t be further from the truth, and it isn’t until Stereotypical Barbie, who finds herself linked with Mattel executive assistant Gloria, does the truth reach Barbie World. For with Stereotypical Barbie having to seek out Weird Barbie to find a fix to her thoughts on death, her flat feet, and cellulite, the only answer is to head to reality. A place where Beach Ken decides to hitch along, and both their perspectives and Barbie World, are forever changed by what they see and learn by going from a matriarchal society to a patriarchal society.
Please Note: This character guide is not an exhaustive list of every cast member, and character descriptions may contain what can be considered spoilers.
Stereotypical Barbie isn’t necessarily good at things. They don’t have presidential qualities, aren’t a writer, aren’t well-versed in biology or space – they just are friendly and dress nice. Basically, Barbie exists to be a quintessential Barbie without any sort of specialty.
- The actor is also known for their role in “I, Tonya,” their role in “Babylon,” and their role in “Suicide Squad.”
Gloria is an executive assistant at Mattel who is a mom and wife and overwhelmed to the point of maybe needing someone to talk to, but instead, her outlet is drawing Barbies, who she can relate to.
Weird Barbie is a Barbie known only as a fixer and is talked about mainly since she isn’t any form of perfect anymore due to all that has happened to her.
- The actor is also known for their role in “The Spy Who Dumped Me,” their role in “Rough Night,” and their role in “Irreplaceable You.”
Beach Ken is a Ken who simply likes hanging at the beach. He can’t surf or swim, be a lifeguard, or anything besides a guy who likes to go to the beach to hang with his friends and Barbie.
Sasha is Gloria’s daughter, who is anti-Barbie due to all the things Barbie represents in modern times.
- The actor is also known for their role in “65,” their role in “Love and Monsters,” and their role in “Awake.”
Allan is Ken’s best friend who seemingly can’t stand the rest of the Ken dolls and rather hang with Barbie or escape to the real world.
The creator of Barbie who in the movie, is noted to have had a tax issue and has a story this film can’t contain.
- The actor is also known for their role in “Accused” and their role in “Marvelous and the Black Hole.”
It isn’t clear if Rival Ken likes Stereotypical Barbie or just like making Beach Ken mad, but the two are rivals and repeatedly challenge one another.
The Mattel Boss is a CEO who wants to focus on making toys for little girls, and keeping the Barbie name alive, but despite his desire to advocate for women, none of the major people in his company, any of the three-letter people (COO, CFO, etc) are women and he can’t name the last woman, beyond Ruth, who was a notable figure.
Mothers stand still so daughters see how far we’ve come.
Our Rating: Mixed (Divisive)
The Various Efforts To Make This Entertaining
From Beach Ken vs. Simu Liu’s Ken to a “Sex Education” reunion, and the film being self-aware to the point Helen Mirren, who voices the narrator, has to step in to make clear Margot Robbie, as Barbie, calling herself ugly is not good casting, there are a lot of comedic moments and easter eggs. I’d add that the dance numbers are eye-catching and bring the funny, but Beach Ken deserves a special mention.
While watching “Barbie,” I couldn’t help but compare Ryan Gosling as Ken to Justin Guarini as Prince Charming in “Once Upon A One More Time.” Gosling as Ken is all about making fun of a well-known figure and using the simplicity of the character to create a character that wants to be more than an afterthought. He knows there is no Ken without Barbie, and having his identity wrapped up in her leads to the discovery of patriarchy blowing his mind.
Now, yes, it slowly but surely morphs him into a villain, but a silly, hard-to-take serious villain who can still deliver funny moments and lines.
Oh, and lastly, we have to mention Allan. If you are someone who loves Michael Cera’s awkwardness as a comedic actor, you’ll absolutely love him in this role.
On The Fence
Heavy Handed Message
“Barbie” recognizes that the iconic figure hasn’t aged well in everyone’s eyes. Despite Barbie being a representative of all women can be, many, like Gloria’s daughter Sasha, see Barbie as someone who has set the feminist movement back rather than forward. Whether it is her figure, how rooted in respectability she is, and more, you see a tug of war between how Barbie and Mattel see her and how her image has evolved, or maybe devolved, over the years.
But, while it is interesting to see the film try to reconcile Barbie’s image, at the same time, it brings on heavy-handed feminist talking points, including one, albeit well-crafted, monologue by Gloria. Which, don’t get me wrong, Barbie is a feminist toy, in an imperfect way, so to not have a speech about the way women have to juggle being around men, other women, be a boss but not crush ideas, sexy but not a slut, and so much more, it’s expected.
It’s just dumping that in a monologue and not really trying to explore what Barbie could mean in the modern world feels like a missed opportunity to show us rather than tell us what Barbie is, what she represents, and how she can represent modern women and use this as a pseudo-rebranding.
It Feels A Bit Bloated
One of our major issues with “Barbie” is that it is filled to the brim with characters and storylines. From the multitude of Ken dolls and Allan to the various Barbies, Gloria, and Sasha, a nod to Ruth Handler, and then throwing in Will Ferrell as the Mattel CEO? Sometimes it can feel like the idea here was to stuff a litany of recognizable faces and give them just enough to do, even if it is just letting them do their shtick, to help convince people who weren’t sure about seeing a Barbie movie.
But, the problem is, no story is given its just due. For example, clearly, something is going on with Sasha and Gloria’s relationship beyond what is delivered in the movie. It is easy to write it off as Sasha being a Gen Z teenager who knows everything and doesn’t give grace to anyone with the same perspective as her – but it has to be more than that. Gloria and her seem to have an issue that goes beyond dealing with a teenager, and then add in Gloria having thoughts about dying that are so strong it affects Stereotypical Barbie? It feels like something is missing here.
Then with Stereotpyical Barbie, there is her having to go to the real world and leave the perfect matriarchal society, having to reconcile that Barbies didn’t change the world and her world is a fantasy, and learning Mattel, like our world, is predominantly run by men. Never mind, meeting Ruth Handler, who made Barbie and started Mattel, and it being made clear there is more to her than just being Barbie’s creator, but that’s for another movie.
In many ways, you can tell “Barbie” is supposed to be the first, and potentially last, live-action Barbie movie, so it is made to be a spectacle. However, it eventually loses its polish and glitter and just becomes a nearly two-hour film that wants to present and focus on so many familiar faces attached to famous brands without allowing anyone to truly stand out.
If you like this movie, we recommend:
- Once Upon A One More Time: Focuses on the various princesses of childhood fairytales, from Snow White to Ariel, who learn about feminism which threatens the storybook world and their places in it.
Check out our movies page for our latest movie reviews and recommendations.
Answers to some questions you may have regarding this movie:
Does “Barbie” Setup A Sequel?
“Barbie” ends in such a way where Stereotypical Barbie’s story could continue, but I can’t imagine Greta Gerwig or Margot Robbie wanting to be part of that story. It would more so be a cash grab situation, like “The Mask 2” or the animated sequel to any Disney movie released in theaters (or their live-action counterparts).
Does “Barbie” Have A Mid-Credit or End Credit Scene?
“Barbie” doesn’t have a mid-credit or end-credit scene.
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