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Barbie knows her stuff

Interrupting Barbie with a “note to filmmakers” regarding the problem with star Margot Robbie calling herself ugly, narrator Helen Mirren emphasizes a key point: the self-awareness of writer-director Greta Gerwig and co-author Noah Baumbach. The two know their subject and its variety of varied implications that let feminism, patriarchy, outdated ideas, and forward thinking co-exist in a single, exuberant project. Watch Barbie as a girl just wanting to have fun—it works. Watch Barbie as a feminist supporting empowerment—it works. Watch Barbie as a conservative valuing motherhood—it works. Underneath the fluff of fanciful pink sets and sparkling costumes, Barbie explores significant ideas about men, women, and couplehood. It happens through the dichotomy of Barbieland, where female dolls rule and seem perfectly happy versus their discovery of actual Santa Monica locations where men dominate the scene. Folded into all this comes superb production values, from imaginative sets to an ideal cast, not just Robbie but Ryan Gosling as a neglected Ken, Kate McKinnon as Weird Barbie, Issa Rae as President Barbie, Michael Cera as sad-sack Allan, America Ferrara as a real-world mom, and Rhea Perlman as the woman who created Barbie in that real-world. Clever dialogue includes historical perspective of the toy’s creation and impact on both kids and adults throughout the world. The issue of failed doll concepts (like pregnant Barbie) comes up, along with creator Handler’s inspirations plus background with tax evasion issues. Serious and lightweight at the same time, Barbie proves surprisingly successful, much like the doll that inspired

the movie.

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