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Barbie movie: Is a plastic life really fantastic?

Released mid-July and attracting volumes of movie-goers, “Barbie” defied expectations of audiences across the world. Produced by Warner Bros. and already grossing $1.3 billion, the film combines themes of feminism and patriarchy, whilst summarizing the history of the Barbie Doll in seamless ways. Directed by Greta Gerwig, “Barbie” takes the audience through a range of emotions, bouncing from comedy to melancholy in a matter of minutes. 

Beginning in Barbie Land, the audience quickly discovers that the Barbies hold a lot of social power. When Barbie and Ken journey to the real world, Barbie is disheartened to find that the circumstances are actually much different. Ken, contrarily, is thrilled, and works to implement his newfound knowledge of the patriarchy in Barbie Land. 

Margot Robbie and Ryan Gosling bring life to their characters of Barbie and Ken in vibrant ways. The two bring emotion and comedy to each scene, no matter the context. Robbie and Gosling are both incredibly expressive in their acting and interact with one another in an often comedic manner. 

There are multiples of both Barbie and Ken — played by actors like Kate McKinnon and Ncuti Gatwa. However, there are no alternate names to differentiate between them — a both charming and chaotic facet of the film. Other well-known actors in the film included Will Ferrell and John Cena. 

Audience members who didn’t grow up with Barbie might be intrigued to learn about the different Barbies released throughout the decades. Gerwig chose to include many Barbies — and Kens — from different eras. Their outfits are not entirely identical, many sporting a creative twist on the original outfits instead. One character that might not be as well known to many audience members is Allan, a friend of Ken’s and played by Michael Cera. 

As for visual aesthetics, the film is bright, colorful and pink. The outfits of the characters, as well as the set designs, are centered around bold colors and patterns. Much of Barbie Land is fabricated to look as if it’s made of fluorescent plastics. 

The soundtrack of “Barbie” features many well-known artists. The film begins with “Pink” by Lizzo and segues into a complicated and festive dance number to Dua Lipa’s “Dance The Night.” Billie Eilishs’ heart-wrenching “What Was I Made For” is one of the more reflective pieces on the soundtrack. Many audience members laughed along to Ryan Gosling’s stellar performance to “I’m Just Ken.” 

Controversy in news outlets arose almost immediately after the movie’s release. Although the feminist message of the film resonated with some, others thought it wasn’t strong enough and was executed poorly. 

Despite the overall serious themes of “Barbie”, the film is highly saturated with comedy. At the beginning of the film Barbie goes through her morning routine, consisting of using her fake hairbrush and eating fake food. These playful moments serve as comedic relief from the film’s heavier themes and undertones. 

The “Barbie” film has something for everyone, whether it’s comedy, themes of feminism or the history of the Barbie doll itself.

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