Barbie by Greta Gerwig & Noah Baumbach [7/10]

Dragged along by a curious wife, I had to admit the two names at the helm of Barbie offered the hope of wit and spectacle, and I was not proven wrong. Barbie is wickedly swift and funny, and the visual presentation of the artificial world of the Barbie doll is a creation in itself. The cast is excellent, spearheaded by two wonderful performances by Margot Robbie (Barbie) and Ryan Gosling (Ken). Spectacular comically ripe scenes abound and the movie never flags. As an entertaining concoction, Barbie is wonderful, and certainly Barbie-skeptics like me need not fret about boredom or disgust. Where the film is less successful, in my opinion, is in the overall script storyline, depicting Barbie forced to move into the real world and then fomenting a rebellion against Ken in the Barbie-world. It’s not that the script is not cunningly clever (it is) but a desire to tackle general issues such as the Barbie doll versus feminism stumbles, especially toward the end. Depending on one’s perspective, Barbie might be seen as a triumphal surge of feminism or as a muddled cop-out, and depending on that decision one might accord the film a rating of 10 or 7. I know many on both sides of that divide.

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