I saw the Barbie movie on Saturday. It was creative and silly, and did a better job wrestling with the whole Barbie thing than I’d expected. Stereotypical Barbie (played by Margot Robbie) is troubled by thoughts of death, and little things going wrong. She must venture to the real world to help whoever’s playing with her before things get worse.
Watching Barbie go through an existential crisis and learn how to deal with the complexities of life was great. There’s a subplot about a mother and daughter in the real world that was touching, and another subplot about patriarchy that was mostly very silly but gave the movie some satirical teeth.
That last subplot is my biggest complaint. The short version: Ken joins Barbie and goes to the real world; learns about patriarchy; returns to Barbie World; and ruins everything. He does it because he’s insecure and doesn’t know how to handle living in Barbie’s shadow.
I liked it. It ups the stakes. It addresses the weird relationship between Barbie and Ken. It’s a particularly dumb version of patriarchy, which means we get a lot of good jokes out of it. And there’s an awesome dance sequence.
But we have the all-male board of Mattel, whose goal is to control Barbie and literally tried to imprison her earlier in the movie … and at the end they turn out to be OK? Uh, no. That felt wrong. The Kens were the guys who buy into patriarchy because they’re dumb; the CEO is literally portrayed as The Man in this movie, and he deserved comeuppance.