Review of “Barbie”: Margot Robbie and Ryan Gosling shine in hysterically heady toy story

“Barbie” is a bejeweled plastic Trojan horse in filmmaker Greta Gerwig’s whimsical hands.

The delightfully silly and incredibly imaginative meta comedy, which stars Margot Robbie and Ryan Gosling as Barbie and Ken and is the chef’s kiss of toy casting, envisions what would occur if Barbie and Ken were loose in our world and filled in pink drenched dreamhouses & brave dolls. In reality, “Barbie” (rated PG-13; 3.5 out of 4; currently in theaters) is an insightful examination of humanity as a whole the meaning of life, and the enigma of a woman living within a patriarchal society, all with an incredibly huge heart and plenty of style.

Barbie Land is an awesome paradise where dolls govern and are able to become anything they want, including president (Issa Rae), physicist (Emma Mackey), and Nobel Prize-winning author (Alexandra Shipp). In their eyes, this has pretty much resolved the issues of equality and feminism. The fiercely competitive Kens, who are mostly useful for cheering and dance-party backflips, also reside in Barbie Land.
Robbie portrays Stereotypical Barbie, who says, “I’m the Barbie everybody thinks of when you recall Barbie,” and spends her days introducing herself to other Barbies, driving about in her convertible (of course, in pink), and throwing entertaining get-togethers.

But strangely, ideas of death begin to sneak into her head (which she discloses in the worst possible location, the dance floor! ), followed by uncharacteristically Barbie-like episodes of terrible breath, cold showers, burnt waffles, flat feet, and cellulite. She realizes there is a “malfunction” in the link with her identity in the Real World when she sees Weird Barbie (Kate McKinnon), a Barbie who has been toyed with way too hard, and she must travel there to make everything right.

The situation quickly deviates because, well, reality isn’t a Toys R Us aisle. Enter the Ken (Gosling) who is in love with our heroine Barbie and is plagued by debilitating insecurities.

They are detained (again), Ken has a keen interest in the reality that men dominate society, and Barbie visits her manufacturers at Mattel, whose the chief executive officer (Will Ferrell) intends to re-box her.

Barbie learns what it’s like to be a real-life girl, with all the worry and tears, in a variation on Pinocchio, and receives criticism from young reviewers that she’s an advertising toy for commercialization and unattainable beauty standards. A few real people, Mattel employee Maria (a wonderful America Ferrera) and her preteen child Sasha (Ariana Greenblatt), become entangled in Barbie’s existential struggle along the way.

The two stars, who are joined by Dua Lipa and John Cena in the supporting cast, are excellent together, particularly when navigating Barbie and Ken’s complex codependence. Robbie shows off her comedic skills, but she really excels when Barbie is overcome by the commotion she unintentionally made. And Gosling puts himself into everything Ken-related, donning an ever-more absurd wardrobe while deftly constructing a character development that is just as crucial to the movie’s emotional center as Robbie’s.

Life in plastic is amazing, as the old Aqua song said. Gerwig delivers for both “Barbie” kids and boys with a neon-drenched setting, a ton of nostalgia, and endearing performances.

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