Movie review: Barbie

wonderfully strange

I wanted to review the movie Barbie, which I saw a week after it opened at the Spectrum Theatre. The problem is that it may be unreviewable.

I liked it. A LOT, actually. It’s a movie that took shots at some of Mattel’s less successful items in the Barbie line while addressing the issue of the doll as a symbol of unattainable beauty. 

The Vanity Fair article said Barbie Is About as Good as a Barbie Movie Could Ever Be. 

The first paragraph: “The film, about the preeminent fashion doll, has to serve the interests of its masters, in this case, the Mattel corporation, while also cheating out to the audience to convince them that what they are watching is not just some two-hour ad. The film must be extra conscious of what Barbie is—critical of it, even—while also celebrating one of the most famous toys ever made. What choice did Gerwig have, then, but to go weird?”

I think the movie had to thread a very tight needle, and mostly, it succeeded, even if, as The Hollywood Reporter suggested, it “delivers the fun but fudges the politics.”

From Medium: “Barbie is “wonderfully strange,” and also “political satire, a product placement film that simultaneously praises and criticizes its product, a mother-daughter relationship, an investigation of gender and its presentation, and a road trip film about the quest for identity and purpose,” writes Sahifa Syifa. “It’s an existential dystopia disguised as a child’s fantasy.”

No pleasing some people

So, as much as it tried, it couldn’t be all things to all viewers. It wasn’t the feminist film one reviewer hoped for, or it was too much. It was a movie for children, or it was too mature for children, or it should have been geared more toward adults [which would have been economic suicide.]  

The reviews were 89% positive on Rotten Tomatoes. The negative reviews were pretty consistent. Collin Garbarino of WORLD: “Instead of offering a reflection of what it means to be a human living alongside other humans, Gerwig falls into a cliched form of existentialism in which life is essentially meaningless, and it’s up to us to assert our own meaning.” 

I don’t think so. Director/co-writer Greta Gerwig has said, “I’m interested in how life is complicated and messy and that there is nothing that’s either or, either good or bad, but it’s mostly it’s both…it can be all these things at once. And I think that felt like a rich place to start from.”


Here’s something from W magazine: “Go on YouTube and you’ll find plenty of right-wing wannabe pundits decrying the Barbie movie as the latest example of the attack on American values by ‘woke mind virus.’ Visit Twitter, and you’ll find self-identified Communists calling it capitalist trash and the exemplification of ‘girl boss’ nonsense.

“Go to an actual movie theater, however, and you’ll find Americans of all stripes simply enjoying a fun movie. While the film certainly has a broadly feminist perspective, it seems like any attempts to turn it into a political football fell flat on their way to record-breaking ticket sales. It may very well end up as the biggest movie of the year. It feels indicative of a wider trend: maybe everyone is a little bit sick of almost everything in pop culture becoming fodder for a political fight?”


I should note that the set in Barbie’s World by Sarah Greenwood is fabulous. The cast -Issa Rae as President Barbie, Kate McKinnon as Weird Barbie, Ryan Gosling and Simu Liu as two of the Kens, Michael Sera as Allan, Rhea Perlman as Ruth, and Helen Mirren as the narrator, were all great.

I think, though, that is Gloria (America Ferrara), the put-upon  Mattel employee with a moody tween daughter Sasha (Ariana Greenblatt), who is ultimately the film’s star. It’s her feelings that informed the feeling of stereotype Barbie (Margot Robbie). She also has the best monologue, which you shouldn’t read until you see the film.

Speaking of dialogue: Greta Gerwig Shared Why She Ended ‘Barbie’ With That Iconic Last Line.

Sunday Stealing hodgepodge

2 Samuel

Sunday StealingThis Sunday Stealing hodgepodge was so detailed that I could have written whole posts about a few questions. And in fact, that’s why I’ve done it here a few times, link to items previously discussed.

1. Where do you get your news these days?

I’ve thought about this a lot. I get a lot of newsfeeds, “mainstream,” progressive, and what one might call rightwing. About the latest mass casualty event, I receive a dozen notices. Elon Musk dithering about whether to buy Twitter I read about ad nauseum.

Yet the first time I read that Bob Lanier, Hall of Fame basketball player and an apparently really good guy had died, it was in from Kelly’s blog. And the second was from a weekly newsletter that linked to this article. It’s more and more difficult to know everything.

2. Do you like crab meat? What makes you crabby?

It’s OK. People hijacking the Consitution and/or the Bible.

3. Does freedom mean more choices? Have you ever felt there were too many choices? Elaborate.

I think we have a gazillion choices of picking watching TV/movies, e.g. – so many platforms! Sometimes keeping track of the options is essentially impossible.

4. Barbara Millicent Roberts was introduced to the world on March 9, 1959…that’s Barbie to most of us. Did you have Barbies as a kid, or did you let your own children play with Barbies? What well-known Barbara (living or not) would you most like to meet?

I think my sisters may have had a Barbie. I can’t think of a famous living Barbara I’d like to meet, but maybe Barbra Streisand.

5. What are three things you value most in another person?

Integrity, intelligence, and compassion.

THEY are old…

6. How would you define “old.” At what age is a person old?

It’s always been true: 30 years older than I am.

7. A place you’ve been that’s “old.” Tell us something about your visit there.

My Grandma Williams’ house was old and is now non-existent. This is a picture of my parents in the backyard of 13 Maple Street, Binghamton, NY.

8. Something you miss about the “good old days.” When were they?

In the 1960s, there were a bunch of Supreme Court decisions that were making the United States a better place: Mapp v. Ohio, Baker v. Carr, Gideon v. Wainwright, New York Times v. Sullivan, Griswold v. Connecticut, Loving v. Virginia.

9. In what way are you a ‘chip off the old block’? Or if you’d rather, in what way is your child a ‘chip off the old block’?

My daughter understands my motivation in terms of time usage, way better than her mother does.

10. Old fashioned, Old Testament, old-timer, same old same old, old glory, good old boy, old wives tale…choose an ‘old’ phrase that relates to something in your life or the wider world currently and explain.

My Bible study has been slogging through the Old Testament histories, presently in 2 Samuel. While some of the theology is mystifying, it is an interesting reflection of human foibles.

A juicy mango

11. July 5th is National Hawaii Day…have you ever been to Hawaii? Any desire to visit or make a return trip? Pineapple, mango, or guava…what’s your pleasure?

Never been to Hawaii, though I’d like to. There’s a story about that. Pineapple, though I never had mango until the last decade or so.

12. Last time you were ‘thrown in at the deep end’? Explain.

The Gutenberg block editor on WordPress, which I wrote about here. Just this past week, I tried it again, but could not “get” it.

13. Sun, sea, sand, salt…your favorite when it comes to summer?

I’ve NEVER done sun for the sake of it – ixnay on the unbathingsay, and that was before I had the vitiligo.

14. Bury your head in the sand, the sands of time, draw a line in the sand, pound sand, shifting sands…pick one and tell us how the phrase currently relates to your life in some way.

Sands of time. I’m getting older, and achier.

15. On a scale of 1-10 (1 = make your own rules and 10=like a warden), how strict were your parents? If you’re a parent where on the scale do you land?

My dad was a 7.3, and my mom was about 2.3. I’m much closer to my mom’s score than my dad’s.


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