For a lot of us, Barbie is one of the most anticipated movies of 2023. It’s not even that we’re all fans of Barbie, it’s the sheer combination of unlikely factors—that a Barbie movie exists in the 2020s, that it’s directed by Greta Gerwig, that it’s co-written by Gerwig and her partner, Noah Baumbach, that it stars Ryan Gosling, one of the pickiest actors working today.
Margot Robbie starring as Barbie is the only part of Barbie that makes any kind of sense. The rest of it is increasingly unlikely, until it becomes a curiosity object unto itself. With each new casting announcement, I just kept thinking—what does she have that everyone wants? Well, now we know, at least a little bit, and the answer is: HUMOR AND DANCE NUMBERS.
A teaser for Barbie dropped this morning, and this is IT. There is a perfect combination of history—Barbie was the first poseable “grown up” doll on the market, and changed the children’s toy and marketing worlds forever—and FUN. Parodying 2001: A Space Odyssey is not new, but at this point, basically the only way to do it is in service of something plainly silly, so it works beautifully here. The little girl in glasses, staring up at Barbie in wonder and awe? Perfect! That is, after all, what Barbie was meant to inspire. She was meant to give girls a sense of possibility, of glamor and fun, and, especially as the years wore on and Barbie racked up numerous careers, opportunity. All of that comes across in a delightfully cheeky way.
Margot Robbie, done up in the classic, Original Barbie look, certainly is glamorous, but then there’s Ryan Gosling as Street Ninja Ken, Simu Liu in a dance number, Margot Robbie in a dance number—multiple dance numbers! Oh no, wait, is this a MUSICAL? The colors, the Nineties of it all, I LOVE IT. I can’t get enough of this. Barbie has always been an object of fascination for me, and this is a new interpretative layer I am relishing. Barbie has always had sociological implications, people have written PhD theses on the subject, but then you have Ken leading some kind of…aerobic slap fight?...and Gerwig & Co. are so plainly taking this just the right amount of serious. Which is: it’s not serious at all, except for how gorgeously detailed it looks. We’re going to have SO much fun with this movie in 2023, I can tell. We’re officially in our Barbie Era, long may it reign.