Home Barbie: The IMAX Experience

Barbie: The IMAX Experience (12A)

Cast: Kingsley Ben-Adir, Michael Cera, Will Ferrell, Margot Robbie, Ariana Greenblatt, Ryan Gosling
Genre: Comedy
Author(s): Noah Baumbach, Greta Gerwig
Director: Greta Gerwig
Release Date: 21/07/2023
Running Time: 114mins
Country: US
Year: 2023

Life in Barbie Land is perfect for one stereotypical Barbie and her dreamily chiselled Ken until the plucky blonde suffers an existential crisis that includes a chance to ditch her high heels for - gasp - sensible flat-soled footwear. Expelled from her pink-saturated utopia for being less than perfect, Barbie sets off for the human world to see if true happiness lies there instead. Ken gatecrashes her odyssey on four wheels with his trusty pair of yellow rollerblades.


LondonNet Film Review

Barbie (12A) Film Review from LondonNet

Margot Robbie is in the pink in Oscar-nominated writer-director Greta Gerwig’s uneven satire of modern gender roles based on the enduringly popular fashion dolls. Moments of comic brilliance punctuate a script co-written by Gerwig and real-life partner Noah Baumbach, such as when the narrator (Helen Mirren) offers pithy commentary about one Barbie’s empowering outburst, Ryan Gosling’s Ken earnestly croons an emasculation anthem composed by Mark Ronson and Andrew Wyatt, and the neglected companion doll enthusiastically embraces “the patriarchy”. However, the screenwriting by two of contemporary cinema’s sharpest wits is infuriatingly inconsistent. Jokes that miss intended targets outweigh the zingers and amusing cameos such as Rob Brydon’s Sugar Daddy Ken (a bona fide figure with a West Highland Terrier named Sugar) are largely afforded single lines of forgettable dialogue…

Gerwig’s picture glides through decades of toy history dating back to the late 1950s and affectionately pokes fun at commercial misfires such as the Growing Up Skipper doll, whose breasts enlarged when you rotated her arms. Using Robbie’s conflicted heroine as a twinkly-eyed mouthpiece, Gerwig and Baumbach enforce timely messaging about sisterly solidarity and independence, openly challenge chauvinistic behaviour and rebuke outdated attitudes about women’s roles in society. No-one is going to put this opinionated, trailblazing Barbie in a box… except for the purposes of merchandising.

Life in Barbie Land is perfect for one stereotypical Barbie (Robbie), exchanging cheery affirmations with neighbours and acknowledging her dreamily chiselled beau, Ken (Gosling). The titular blonde suffers an existential crisis that includes nagging thoughts of death and an opportunity to ditch her high heels for – gasp – sensible flat-soled footwear. Faced with expulsion from pink-saturated utopia, Barbie visits her socially ostracised sister, Weird Barbie (Kate McKinnon), who identifies a fissure in the thin membrane separating Barbie Land from our reality.

“Go to the real world and find the girl who’s playing with you,” advises Weird Barbie, prompting stereotypical Barbie to embark on an odyssey of self-discovery. Ken gatecrashes the road trip with his trusty pair of yellow rollerblades. The anatomically restricted duo are gobsmacked by rampant inequality in present-day California as they cross paths with a despairing mother (America Ferrera) and cynical daughter (Ariana Greenblatt), and an insensitive Mattel chief executive (Will Ferrell).

Barbie astutely taps into decades of childhood nostalgia, anchored by an effervescent performance from Robbie as the self-doubting embodiment of so-called physical perfection. Madcap beach vibes and a rousing power ballad solo recall the superior 2021 comedy Barb And Star Go To Vista Del Mar, also starring Annie Mumolo. Gosling’s directionless hunk is ultimately more endearing than the title character, embracing the lunacy of a bare-chested sidekick for Barbie who is destined “to live and die a life of blonde fragility”. That’s Kentertainment.

– Jo Planter


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