If you happen to live on planet earth, there is a very high likelihood that you have been made aware of the motion picture ‘Barbie’ which was recently released in cinemas. Not only did it break numerous film records, but the anticipation surrounding its release was almost unprecedented. Now, as someone who has watched the film twice already, I believe I have a good enough indication upon whether the film was truly worth the hype it mustered up, and if whether it was successful in delivering its message.
Firstly, let’s discuss statistics, in order to grasp the real reach that this film had. The film has taken the cinema-world by storm, earning more than $1.38 billion worldwide, becoming the highest grossing film in the last 100 years of Warner Bros history, and so far, claiming the spot of highest-grossing film of 2023. Not only are the numbers high, but the social relevance of the film is outstanding, with aspects of the film appearing regularly across all social media platforms and maintaining elaborate merchandise sales. One must wonder, why has this film in particular skyrocketed as it has? What distinguishes it from the rest? Well, it can be contributed to a number of factors, especially the high-profile cast. Barbie stars multiple actors and actresses who have excelled in the industry and bring attention to their projects, in particular Margot Robbie, Ryan Gosling and Will Ferrell. A cast as such already sets a film up to receive significant notice. However, it was not merely their presence that won over audiences, but their phenomenal performances. Robbie’s brilliant portrayal of a ‘picture-perfect’ and ‘doll-like’ Barbie was spot-on, leaving no room for doubt upon her casting. Goslings’ scene-stealing performances were undeniable, and unpredictably became my personal favourite aspect of the film. His hilarious interpretation of a clueless Ken gave the film a new dimension of appeal, making the film largely humorous, which was not entirely anticipated by viewers.
In conjunction to the performances, the message that the film communicates is clear and strategically outlined. Greta Gerwig, the director, crafted a storyline to reflect misogny, sexism and the promotion of ‘girl-power’ through the development of the characters within ‘Barbieland’. She does so by creating instances where Barbie must overcome adversity, and face an unfamiliar reality where she is faced with the ‘real-world’ and the oppression of women, as opposed to the ‘perfect’ world she is accustomed to.
The message was always going to receive mixed reviews and its fair share of criticism. Some questioned if the message was really empowering at all, but rather an excuse to ‘attack men’ and their role in society. Personally, I do not agree with such interpretation, but rather think the film’s intent was not to attack or defend any gender in specific, but to reflect the apparent inequalities in society and how this relates to the characters within ‘Barbie.’ The message was delivered amongst social commentary, a large amount of humour, and fun musical sequences. Frankly, I believe that the film was intended to be joyful and entertaining, rather than a piece of cinema that is meant to be throughly dissected and critically analysed, and the arising criticisms of its ‘silliness’ and lack of deep meaning defeats the point in which Gerwig intended.
Therefore, whether Barbie is worth the ‘hype’ or not, the film is objectively fun and engaging, guaranteeing a laugh, smile and perhaps a happy-cry. I suggest to not look too much into the film’s intricate details, but to rather appreciate a feel-good piece of cinema which will leave you in a greater mood than before!