As we left the Sun Theatre after seeing the Barbie movie on its opening day I turned to Brett and said “I can’t wait for the incels to complain about the depiction of Ken.” I won’t give away spoilers in this movie review because there are far too many moments where the surprise is part of the humour. But to read today that Piers Morgan and Ben Shapiro hated the movie and that Zack Snyder’s DC fanbase took offence at a particularly well-written jab is immensely satisfying and means that the movie is already doing its job.
Yes, Piers and many men like him will miss the point of the representation of Ken and the all-male Mattel board in the movie. But the more these closed-minded men try to find something to complain about and hold so tightly onto the misogyny and the narrative that being a man in the 21st century is hard, the higher the chance that at least a few of them realise how ridiculous it is. It also increases the dialogue around the issues that Barbie addresses in such a hilarious way.
The fact that these men on many occasions have complained about how ‘you can’t joke about anything anymore’ just adds to the irony.
The film is an out-and-out comedy. But in terms of social commentary, it doesn’t hold back. It’s a movie that puts the lack of equality in the world front and centre, contrasting BarbieLand against the hyper-masculine, hyper-capitalist world of California. But it doesn’t shy away from presenting one of the issues of the Barbie doll over its 60+ year history.
It is hilarious. We saw a cinema packed full of women dressed in hot pink. Three Sun Theatre sessions of the Barbie we close to capacity. Nolan’s Oppenheimer had one session filling fast. So Yarraville definitely landed on the Barbie side of the box office fight. The excitement before the movie started was palpable. It’s rare that we’re in a cinema that’s full, let alone a cinema full of excited chatter about the upcoming feature. The Sun did the right thing by limiting the ads and previews before the movie. We were there for Margot Robbie and that’s what we got.
She is stunning and her performance is superb. As Ken, Ryan Gosling, despite his age, is equally as good and we can understand why there is the first hint of Oscar buzz around. If the Golden Globes still exist in 2024 there’ll certainly be a few nominations there.
Speaking of awards, once the movie started it wasn’t long before Brett leaned over to me and just said ‘production design’. Anyone who’s listened to the podcast will know he meant “this should win the Oscar for production design” and I agree. Though what comes in the rest of the year remains to be seen. Sarah Greenwood has done an amazing job is designing BarbieLand to maximise the nostalgia and the fun of this fantasy world and contrasted it superbly against the ‘real world’.
There isn’t too much more I can say about the film without ruining it. I highly recommend avoiding any spoilers for the film as there are so many funny moments that are enhanced by the surprise factor. We will be going to see Oppenheimer as well. It was the toughest choice of what to see first and cinemas have seen nothing like it since Hocus Pocus vs Free Willy (both of which we’ve reviewed).
But regardless of the box-office contest, the script is gold, the songs are a lot of fun, the commentary is spot on and the reaction from the small-minded men still trying to control how we feel is priceless.