The new film from Greta Gerwig is finally out in cinemas – but what have critics had to say about it?
The Guardian: *** “The result is a good-natured but self-conscious movie, whose comedy is rooted in that very self-consciousness, often funny, occasionally very funny, but sometimes also somehow demure and inhibited, as if the urge to be funny can only be mean and satirical. And so often Barbie winds up playing the bland comic foil to comic characters like the outrageous metrosexual Ken, obsessed with his “beach” habitat and longing for the patriarchy, and to Weird Barbie, the Barbie who has been abusively over-played-with and crayoned-over, always dishevelled on the floor doing the splits, played here by Kate McKinnon.”
The Hollywood Reporter: “The tension between Barbie as object and subject can be felt especially through Robbie’s performance. Barbie’s increased consciousness plays across the actress’ expressive eyes, which become steadily weighted by the forces of the human world. Her physical presence tells us something, too: Robbie moves mechanically in Barbieland because she’s a toy, but who’s to say she’s any less rigid in the real world?”
Empire: **** “Above all else, it’s painfully funny. Barbie’s journey of self-discovery is often derailed by surreal skits and arch asides. Robbie – who has been dialling it up to 11 since Harley Quinn – is hilarious, but the most consistent scene-stealer is Mr. Blond Fragility. Gosling submerges wholeheartedly into Ken’s insecure psyche as he moves from Barbie’s sidepiece to patriarchal poster boy. Every muscle flex, every hair flick, every guitar strum lands perfectly. There are moments where he will rob you of breath.”
The Independent: ***** “Barbie is one of the most inventive, immaculately crafted and surprising mainstream films in recent memory – a testament to what can be achieved within even the deepest bowels of capitalism. It’s timely, too, arriving a week after the creative forces behind these stories began striking for their right to a living wage and the ability to work without the threat of being replaced by an AI. It’s a pink-splattered manifesto to the power of irreplaceable creative labour and imagination.”
Roger Ebert.com: *** 1/2 “As the film’s star, Margot Robbie finds just the right balance between satire and sincerity. She’s the perfect casting choice; it’s impossible to imagine anyone else in the role. The blonde-haired, blue-eyed stunner completely looks the part, of course, but she also radiates the kind of unflagging, exaggerated optimism required for this heightened, candy-coated world. Later, as Barbie’s understanding expands, Robbie masterfully handles the more complicated dialogue by Gerwig and her co-writer and frequent collaborator, filmmaker Noah Baumbach. From a blinding smile to a single tear and every emotion in between, Robbie finds the ideal energy and tone throughout. Her performance is a joy to behold.”
Entertainment Weekly: “The verdict? 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.”
The Telegraph: **** “Greta Gerwig takes on feminism and the patriarchy in this hilarious, deeply bizarre film.”
Vulture.com: “There’s a streak of defensiveness to Barbie, as though it’s trying to anticipate and acknowledge any critiques lodged against it before they’re made, which renders it emotionally inert despite the efforts at wackiness.”
Metro.co.uk: **** 1/2 “Barbie is a delightfully thoughtful and deep blockbuster, with all the trappings and sparkle to satisfy even the most aesthetically conscientious super-fan. For putting women – and Barbie – front and centre in 2023, it deserves all the success surely coming its way.”
City Am: “Robbie and Gosling have warm chemistry against the backdrop of an interlocking landscape of impossibly pretty pink sets that play with the notion of what’s real and fake. You feel that they must have had so much fun pulling all this together. Well, for the first few weeks, before the nausea set in. “
Barbie is out in cinemas now.