‘Barbie’ at CinemaCon: Love or Hate the Doll, ‘This Movie Is for You’

To Barbie or not to Barbie, that is the question posed by director Greta Gerwig’s latest satirical send-up.

“Barbie,” set for a July 21 release, stars Margot Robbie as the blonde bombshell Mattel doll who ventures outside of her dreamland and finds herself caught up in the real world. Ryan Gosling plays Ken, while Simu Liu, Hari Nef, Kate McKinnon, Issa Rae, John Cena, and Dua Lipa play other variations of the dolls.

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Director Gerwig, who co-wrote the script with collaborator Noah Baumbach, told audiences at CinemaCon during Warner Bros. Discovery’s presentation that Gosling was determined to portray Ken as though he was in a “drama.”

“It was like Marlon Brandon playing Ken,” Gerwig said.

And “Barbie” is already rife with film history references: The first trailer for the film had an ode to “2001: A Space Odyssey” match cut, and the footage shown during the Warner Bros. Discovery CinemaCon presentation captured Kate McKinnon’s “weird Barbie” doll presenting Robbie’s Barbie with two options: Birkenstocks or heels, asking whether she would want to know the truth about her blissful “Matrix”-like existence in a dream universe. The film’s antagonist, the Mattel Toy CEO played by Will Ferrell, is petrified by the idea of his doll empire escaping from his dictatorial grasps and about how the dolls may find their footing in the real world.

“Barbie” truly is a fish-out-of-water hero’s journey, much like the legacy of films before it.

“I finally think I know what Dorothy felt like,” Gosling said onstage, citing “The Wizard of Oz.”

Production took inspiration from disco and Technicolor musicals, with Robbie calling the film itself a “dopamine hit.”

As the tagline teased, “If you love Barbie…if you hate Barbie, this movie is for you.”

For all the details on “Barbie,” click here.

Reporting by Tony Maglio and Brian Welk. 

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