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Perhaps as a simple pink fantasy Barbie would have worked, but the meta message movie director Greta Gerwig has concocted buckles under the weight of its vapid self-importance.

Any movie that starts off with as uninspired a 2001: A Space Odyssey pastiche as Barbie does, will have a hard time convincing me the film will be worth my time. And despite undoubted good intentions, Greta Gerwig's elaborate Mattel commercial doesn't pull off the trick either.

Part of the reason is the uninspired premise, which sees Barbie and Ken leave Barbieland to end up in real-world Los Angeles, where Ken is inspired by the blatant male domination to such an extent he tries to force a patriarchy on Barbieland.

I get why Greta Gerwig and her unlikely writing partner Noah Baumbach would choose this theme for the Barbie movie, but why on earth did they have to go about it in such a ham-fisted, in-your-face way? Meta movies usually only work when they're subtle, and subtle is not part of Barbie's vocabulary.

In truth, some of the oneliners and gags do work (my favourite is when narrator Helen Mirren quips: "If your're trying to make a point about unconventional beauty, casting Margot Robbie is probably the wrong choice.") but they hardly stand out amid the self-important, Mattel-worshipping, woefully predictable pink pastiche.

Mind you, this won't stop Barbie from making a gazillion dollars and inspiring countless sequels and spin-offs. Which - despite Greta Gerwig's faux feminism window dressing - is probably the only reason why this shameless cash grab was greenlit in the first place.

release: 2023

director: Greta Gerwig

starring: Margot Robbie, Ryan Gosling, America Ferrera, Will Ferrell


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