Critics Have Seen Barbie, And It Seems Margot Robbie’s Life In Plastic Is, Indeed, Fantastic

 Ryan Gosling and Margot Robbie in Barbie.
Ryan Gosling and Margot Robbie in Barbie.
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The wait is almost over. You’ve unearthed your Barbie Dreamhouse from the attic, turned your entire wardrobe pink and obsessed over Margot Robbie’s feet, and now the hours are ticking down until patrons start flocking to movie theaters to see the highly anticipated film about America’s favorite doll. Barbie will officially hit the big screen on July 21, but critics had the chance to screen the movie early, and they are here to render their opinions on everything we need to know about Greta Gerwig’s film before heading out this weekend. Let’s see what they have to say.

We all know we’re living in a Barbie World, so while some may argue nobody ever cared about Ken, the same can’t be said about Ryan Gosling’s role in this movie. Those who took to social media following early screenings raved about Gosling and the rest of the impressive cast, including — of course — Margot Robbie as the titular doll. Here’s what else the critics are saying.

CinemaBlend's own Nick Venable was assigned to share his thoughts about Barbie, and he gave it a rave, ranked at 4.5 stars. He wrote:

Barbie is a generation-defining film to be loved and enjoyed by everyone from those who grew up during the doll line’s earliest days to the tweens who are tackling many of the issues with identity and physicality that the movie represents.

Devan Coggan of EW grades Barbie an A-, agreeing with the early assessments that Ryan Gosling steals the show, tapping into his inner Mouseketeer, as Ken becomes intoxicated by the idea of a patriarchy. Margot Robbie is still the star, Coggan says, noting that she fully leans into the role’s physical comedy as Greta Gerwig ties it all together. The critic continues:

Never doubt Gerwig. The Oscar-nominated filmmaker has crafted a fierce, funny, and deeply feminist adventure that dares you to laugh and cry, even if you're made of plastic. It's certainly the only summer blockbuster to pair insightful criticisms of the wage gap with goofy gags about Kens threatening to ‘beach’ each other off.

Lovia Gyarkye of THR says there’s a tension in how the director walks the line between Barbie fun and the emotional dexterity she’s known for. In the end, the tagline rings true that, “If you love Barbie…if you hate Barbie, this movie’s for you.” Gyarkye writes:

Gerwig delights in the richness and weirdness of her material in this clever send-up of Barbie dolls and their fraught legacy. It’s impressive how much the director, known for her shrewd and narratively precise dramas, has fit into a corporate movie. Barbie is driven by jokes — sometimes laugh-out-loud, always chuckle-worthy — that poke light fun at Mattel, prod the ridiculousness of the doll’s lore and gesture at the contradictions of our sexist society.

Kate Erbland of IndieWire also gives Barbie an A-, saying the story starts out as funny, feminist and wildly original, and then only gets bigger, weirder, smarter and better from there. The critic praises all involved, both in front of and behind the camera, saying:

All Barbies delight, but the Kens, appropriately enough, launch a real sneak attack, especially Simu Liu and Kingsley Ben-Adir, and Michael Cera nearly makes off with the whole thing as the singular sidekick Allan. There’s also a murderer’s row of below-the-line talent: Opuses can and will be written about Sarah Greenwood’s production design and Jacqueline Durran’s costumes. ‘Barbie’ is a lovingly crafted blockbuster with a lot on its mind, the kind of feature that will surely benefit from repeat viewings (there is so much to see, so many jokes to catch) and is still purely entertaining even in a single watch.

The word “weird” keeps popping up from the critics, but for Coleman Spilde of the Daily Beast, it was “existentialist absurdity,” as the critic calls Barbie an “instantly timeless masterpiece” and a dazzling dream that will touch the souls of everyone who sees it, even if they’ve never picked up the doll. Spilde continues:

Barbie’s ability to cover so much ground in just under two hours is nothing short of awe-inspiring. Its granular level of detail will keep viewers coming back to it for years, just as they do their childhood Barbies, tucked away somewhere in a big, plastic bin. That nostalgia will be potent for mothers and daughters the world over, and Barbie’s regard for motherhood ends up being its most continuously stirring theme. The existentialist absurdity of the film’s dialogue will live on in meme format for years to come, but it’s the warm affection for a matriarchy that gives Barbie its bite, one that can’t be compacted into GIF form.

Alyssa Mora of IGN rates the movie an “Amazing” 9 out of 10, calling it a powerful celebration of femininity that recognizes its contradictions, its joys, its frustrations, its limitations and its freedoms thanks to a nuanced script from Greta Gerwig and Noah Baumbach. Mora writes:

Greta Gerwig’s Barbie is a masterful exploration of femininity and the pressures of perfection. This hyper-femme roller-coaster ride boasts meticulous production design, immaculate casting, and a deep-seated reverence for Barbie herself. Margot Robbie sparkles at the center of the film, alongside Ryan Gosling’s airheaded Ken and America Ferrera’s well-meaning Gloria. Ultimately, Barbie is a new, bold, and very pink entry into the cinematic coming-of-age canon. Absolutely wear your pinkest outfit to see this movie, but make sure you bring tissues along too.

It seemed like a tall order for Barbie to live up to the hype, but these opinions make it seem like that’s just what Margot Robbie has done. Critics are celebrating Greta Gerwig’s combination of humor and social commentary. You will be able to make your own assessment of the movie when it hits theaters Friday, July 21, and be sure to check out our 2023 movie calendar to see what else is coming soon.