OTTplay Logo
settings icon
profile icon

Barbie review: Greta Gerwig's 'dreamhouse' is a patriarchy-smashing triumph with Margot Robbie and Ryan Gosling

The empowering and entertaining Barbie challenges the status quo with satire.

Barbie review: Greta Gerwig's 'dreamhouse' is a patriarchy-smashing triumph with Margot Robbie and Ryan Gosling
Margot Robbie and Ryan Gosling in a still from Barbie

Last Updated: 11.25 AM, Jul 21, 2023


To be a perfect person in a perfect world, one must reside in Barbie Land. Unless you're experiencing a severe case of existential angst, Perhaps you're Ken.


It's a man's world, and women are just living in it; that's a fact that planet Earth has witnessed since its inception. And in Barbie Land, it's Barbie's world, and Kens are just living in it. However, Barbies believe that they have brought change and introduced the world to women's empowerment, feminism, and more. In the real world, someone calls Barbie a fascist, and she just couldn't take on such heavy words. Well, dolls can't have feelings; we give them to them.


Barbie by Greta Gerwig delves into a serious subject with a satirical take that pink makes for just a cover-up. The colour traditionally associated with femininity has become a colour that everyone opts to wear, irrespective of gender.

The film begins with Margot Robbie as a stereotypical Barbie living her best life every day. She is seen waking up, having an imaginative shower, having breakfast, which she also just pretends to have, and enjoying her tour of the make-believe world.

Kens exist solely to swoon over Barbies, while Barbies rule the world. This is the beach where men are the cheerleaders and women play volleyball, and there is a President Barbie too (something that America has still not had: a woman president).

Within 10 minutes, you get an idea of where the film is likely to go. We are living in the multiverse of madness, and Barbie is just yet another one of them. To save herself from the feelings of "death" and also from getting cellulite, Barbie visits the real world to meet the girl who owns her.

However, she gets the shock of her life, knowing the world is the exact opposite of what she witnesses every day in Barbie Land. Women don't run the world; instead, they are ogled and treated like a piece of meat. Ken (Ryan Gosling), however, joins her and has the time of his life in a short amount of time. He gets acquainted with the "magical" world of patriarchy and also learns that men rule the world while even riding horses. In no time, things just take a turn, and Barbie Land gets messed up.

Once again, a portal plays the game that we have witnessed in Marvel movies over the past few years, and chaos ensues. However, the connection between the real and make-believe worlds is just a reality check, which eventually every delusional Barbie in the world needs to know. Things are political here; women have to fight for their rights, and basic respect is also a desire that doesn't get fulfilled easily.

America Ferrera, as Gloria, a Mattel employee in the real world, gives a monologue that deserves claps and a standing ovation about how Barbie should never stop trying after her world turns upside down and Kens take over it. Instead, in the real world, women continue with their fight to achieve basic rights in the 21st century.

However, the film takes a dip right after that, as when everything is happening, nothing is happening right. The film finds it difficult to take a stand on where to go with this battle of the sexes ahead. Moreover, Ferrera's speech to each Barbie also proves that she is right about the fact that, even though she is right, she is a human and thus manipulative.

That just doesn't stop there. Monologue is supposed to be done once; however, the continual words lose their charm, and thus the narrative also falls flat there. The film, however, picks up in a short span of time to show that the world eventually has to please men. They also have feelings; they can also cry, which makes one feel "achy but good." That was the only problem I had with the otherwise delightful watch.

Margot Robbie makes Barbie what it is: a superlative performance-driven film. She is indeed among the best actors in Hollywood right now, and no one else could look as perfect as she does. Being a feminist figure herself, the actor extends it to her character, and her performance is here to stay in our minds for a very long time. Her existential crisis is the catalyst for the story to take off, and the naivity that Robbie shows is unimaginable as it has a subtle undertone of darkness with a ray of pink hope.

The "Kenergy" that Ryan Gosling brings to the film is an icing on the cake. He walks so that Barbie can fly. The actor's transition, even with his vulnerability after consuming the patriarchy potion, has a melodious touch. When Gosling sings, you are there to listen; when he says that he is just Ken, you agree with him and want to believe that it stays that way.

Greta Gerwig starts Barbie with a world to which many girls aspire, not literally. She demonstrates what happens when "men," even the Mattel company, are in charge of the world. The dolls are girls, but the creators are men sitting in a pink conference room. It's a sight that's messy, and the first glimpse of it will leave you triggered as well.

If Gerwig, who co-wrote the film with Noah Baumbach, manages to break the fourth wall indirectly with the narration by Helen Mirren and talk about the current state of the world, it doesn't land properly, as after a point in time the satire takes a convenient turn. You are shown that even though men have it easier, they deserve a place and can coexist. It shows in the narrative that when Ken rules, women become stewardesses, cheerleaders, and maids. But when Barbie ruled, men were not shown that being Ken was not wrong; when they ruled, they made Barbie feel bad about themselves.

Gerwig still gives hope that things might change and that there are no rulers and fascism in the real world, but co-existence and not the battle of the sexes.


A beautiful musical by Mark Ronson and Andrew Wyatt supports the live-action movie Barbie. Every song is foot-tapping and quite meaningful, so to speak. Despite its satirical take on problems in the real world, you might leave the theatre with hope and say, "Come on, Barbie, let's do a party!"


  • see all
Get the latest updates in your inbox