Few things bring me greater joy in this life than a reason to dress up in a thematically appropriate outfit. Give me a themed event, the more offbeat or outré, the better, and I will hurl myself at it with reckless sartorial abandon. Doesn’t matter what the theme is, really: post-apocalypse, Jersey Shore, film noir, CRYBABY, Adventurers Society, Tarantinoverse, James Bond/spy, une fête en blanc, space luau, Dolly-Parton-banned-books… the list goes on. And that’s not including Halloween.
So when something like BARBIE comes around, bringing with it the opportunity to dress up and paint the town pink with a few comrades…? Well, let’s just say I show up.
We saw BARBIE at The Neon in Dayton, of course. The magnificent Barbie Box is a creation of local Dayton shop The Stoney Cottage and was conveniently located outside The Neon. This Barbie Box was cooler and more fun than any studio-provided cardboard display could ever dream of being.
After the movie: drinks, dinner, and more drinks at Salar, followed by an impromptu arm-wrestling match and an ill-advised footrace down the middle of Fifth Street (which I’m pretty sure I saw someone filming).
But what about the movie itself? Could it possibly have lived up to all the hype?
Honestly? It’s a work of art.
This isn’t me being hyperbolic or ironic. Writer-director Greta Gerwig took a three-score-old fashion doll and somehow turned it into an intelligent, self-aware, feminist, patriarchy-critiquing, and subversive film that also is both slyly and overtly hilarious, and in general a frankly bonkers piece of cinema. If that ain’t art, I’m not sure what is.
That a big corporation like Mattel, which owns the right to Barbie, allowed Gerwig to make this film, which also lampoons Mattel in the film – Will Ferrell playing Mattel’s CEO is exactly what one would expect out of Will Ferrell — is nothing short of incredible. I wish more corporations would let artists take similar risks with their IP. Sure, there would no doubt be some whiffs, but the hits could be so big. At the very least, we would get interesting films out of it.
I would be shocked if BARBIE didn’t walk away with at least one Oscar nomination for acting – looking at you, Ryan Gosling, for somehow bringing pathos to Ken — and another for Best Screenplay. It’s the perfect populist vehicle to inject some energy into awards season.
By no means is BARBIE not without its flaws. There are a few times where the film calls itself out in a way that, while funny and self-effacing, also feels a bit like the filmmakers are doing it before someone else does. The end of the third act also gets a little too weirdly meta in a way that didn’t fully work for me. Thankfully, the film almost immediately makes up for this in the denouement, with Margot Robbie delivering the final line of dialogue that is both extremely funny and the perfect note on which to end things.
So yes, BARBIE is not a perfect film — but what work of art is?
What BARBIE is, though, is a delightful way to spend two hours in a movie theater, surrounded by your pals and a bunch of other weirdos dressed in pink.