A ‘Barbie’ movie review based on some Frequently Asked Questions

Hey Barbie! Hey Ken! Do you have a love-hate relationship with the Real World like I do?


As someone who grew up with the franchise; owned a couple of Barbie dolls, begged my parents for one play set after another and remember watching the animated movie Barbie as the Princess and the Pauper (2004) repeatedly; Greta Gerwig’s Barbie is a huge deal.

As if having Margot Robbie and Ryan Gosling starring in the new hit could not make it any bigger, closer to it hitting cinemas worldwide, we get to see more celebrities revealed to be in the Barbie line-up (Dua Lipa! Issa Rae!) and then some. With endless brand collaborations, extensive teasers e.g. Ryan Gosling singing the Ken-them (Ken anthem) and promotional tie-ins (have you tried Googling ‘Barbie’ yet?) the movie paints the world pink – so much so that I initially thought, will the movie result to a quick flop? Would people quickly go, ‘What else is there in the movie?’. Essentially, is the hype too much?

And just like that, I’m glad I’m in the wrong! Fortunate to be among the firsts to watch the movie, I had my AMA (Ask-Me-Anything) moments – here are what I gathered.

“Isn’t Barbie *just* a toy?”

Yes, and no (it’s more). Like the dolls of my early childhood, the movie Barbie opens up dimensions about a girl’s aspirations. As much as being a mother and homemaker is the hardest job in the Real World, modern females who are keen to explore their professional personas should not be discouraged. This trailer (which I found out later is the opening scene for the movie) tells it better. Up to a point of time, dolls are mostly played in the spirit of role-playing mothers.

Barbie (the doll and the movie) is greatly feminist.

“There was no book, right? What’s the plot like?”

Without spoiling things for those who haven’t watched it yet, Barbie paints a contrast between Barbie Land aka the pink utopia where Barbies rule, and the Real World, aka where I am typing this review from. These two keep each other in check so when there is a glitch in the system, it would be reflected in the former. Barbie Land contrasts the Real World in a way that it is picture perfect – every day is a party, there is no cellulite in sight and well, women make the call!

This fabulously feminist movie presents its bleak, sadly-true themes (toxic masculinity, objectification to name two) in doses of ha-has and huhs. America Ferrera’s speech-y scene in the movie where she goes “We have to be extra ordinary but somehow, we always got it wrong” is to be paid full attention to.

 “What’s up with the Asian Ken?”

Why not, right? The movie scores extra points for diversity. You would not only see a cool line-up of Kens with Simu Liu, Ncuti Gatwa and Kingsley Ben Adir but various versions of Barbie – yay for the professions and accolades (President, Nobel Prize winner, doctor, diplomat) and representations, e.g. hijabi and wheel chaired Barbie too.

 “How long was the movie?”

It was 114 minutes (1 hour and 54 minutes) of gorgeousness and gloom. And glam. The soundtracks come in strong and they are placed perfectly in the movie. My favourite placements are Billie Eilish’s What Was I Made For and Nicki Minaj’s Barbie World with Aqua and Ice Spice.

“How was Margot Robbie?”

Phenomenal. No one else is simply, stereotypically, Barbie.

“Is it really worth a watch?”

Absolutely. I give Barbie (2023) an 8 over 10. The set design is cleverly laid-out and will give you the heebie-jeebies. Whether or not you’re a fellow Barbie (or Ken, or Allan, or Midge) fan, this deserves a watch. For some, it might be a surface-level sensation but really, if you ask me, it grows better with every wink of reflection thrown at you. Dare I call it a modern classic for self-discovery?

Poster and movie stills provided by Warner Bros.

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