Who can say they were seriously invested in fashion at a young age without being enamoured by Mattel’s famous doll, Barbie? Characterised by supermodel-worthy looks, a stellar wardrobe, and an entire girly universe of sisters, pets, friends, and boyfriends, Barbie was something of a constant companion for most kids growing up. The obsession could be scaled up by way of acquiring more rooms for the dreamhouse, collecting Barbies of varying professions and looks, extending the family, friends, and buying clothes. Nothing could go wrong in this picture-perfect world of pink plastic. Naturally, when Aqua’s single debuted in the ’90s, Barbie Girl became something of an anthem. Nearly two decades later, Greta Gerwig and Margot Robbie are unwrapping the obsession in a manner that can only be described as larger than life. But before you write off the saccharine-hued trailers of the movie just as an antidote to Oppenheimer, here’s a host of reasons you can’t miss it.
While Margot Robbie stars as the Barbie of the eponymous movie (the star-studded cast features more Barbies) she is also the producer of the film. Her production house LuckyChap was eventually successful in acquiring the rights to make the movie from Mattel. Acutely aware that the doll Barbie is as loved as it is hated for a myriad of reasons spanning unrealistic body goals, inadequate representation of race, and promoting a lifestyle that laid emphasis on largely materialistic goals–Robbie wanted to create a film that addresses those issues.
You’re probably familiar with Greta Gerwig’s work, if not, treat this week as your personal GG film festival and go through Lady Bird (2017), Little Women (2019), and Frances Ha (2012) for some exemplary films that narrate the human experience through a nuanced female gaze that only she can. While Gerwig is the director of the movie, she is also a co-writer with her partner Noah Baumbach for this particular film.
A Barbie doll in many ways represented what girls could do when they grow up. Were they confined to gender-assigned roles or driving away in Star Vettes any way they pleased? In an interview, Gerwig admitted that the film was in fact a feminist one. "Looking at all the thorniness and stepping into what is the negotiation of what women need to be, and how to give them something other than a tightrope to walk on, is how it feels feminist to me,” she said.
The incredible sets of this film have been laboured over with such attention to detail, Architectural Digest made an entire film of Barbie’s Dreamhouse. Featuring a refrigerator with only some plastic food, and a slide from the bedroom that lands her in a stick-on pool with no water, this incredible mansion has no doors and simply looks into houses of other Barbies. Our favourite is the heart-shaped bed with a sequin comforter.
The star-studded cast features Ryan Gosling as Ken along with names like Nicola Coughlan, Hari Nef, John Cena, Emma Mackey, Kate McInnon, and America Ferriera–each featuring a crucial role in the movie that tackles the emotional upheaval girls feel while growing up. Mermaid Barbie is played by Dua Lipa–and that alone is a very good reason to book your tickets right away.