Barbie – The DVDfever Cinema Review – Margot Robbie, Ryan Gosling

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Barbie – it’s the film you never thought you needed… maybe.

Why was I watching this in the cinema? Well… Barbenheimer, but we’ll get to that.

I was certainly impressed that it begins with a 2001: A Space Odyssey spoof of the opening ‘Dawn Of Man‘ scene, and was completely getting into this, until some morons came along LATE, and sat down at the end of the row right in the middle of this, making a right racket. Completely disrupted the flow, and I had to catch it online to see it in full.

I hadn’t seen the teaser before, so wasn’t expecting this. However, back to those fuckwits, and YOU HAVE 30 MINS OF ADS AND TRAILERS. HOW ARE YOU THAT BASTARD LATE?!

Anyhoo, until that moment, it was the funniest thing I’d seen onscreen in a long time, but I doubt how many of the target audience will have even the slightest idea what it’s referencing, and the same goes for a Shining reference later on. I guess director Greta Gerwig (Lady Bird) is a Stanley Kubrick fan, then? Let’s just hope Barbie 2 doesn’t feature Margot Robbie (Babylon) turning into the old woman in the bath…

As for the plot, well… erm… the crux of it is that all the Barbies in the “Classic Barbie”‘s world think they’ve solved feminism. The ‘stereotypical’ one being played by Ms Robbie, she wakes up feeling great, eats a fake breakfast (because she actually doesn’t need to eat – given that she’s made of plastic), she has a great day every day and there’s even a Barbie Mount Rushmore.


Me amongst the Barbie-fied set-up at Cineworld Didsbury. I am smiling, honest…

As for Ken (Ryan GoslingBlade Runner 2049), he only has a great day if Barbie looks at him and gives him attention, hoping for some more later, when he wants to stay over, but doesn’t know why. However, she’s having a girl’s night like every night, so is rather busy.

This film thrives on diversity, so there’s Barbies and Kens of all races, including a plus size Barbie (Sharon RooneyThe Control Room), one in a wheelchair, and even a black President Barbie (Issa RaeSpider-Man: Across The Spider-Verse), because Democrats still can’t handle that Kamala Harris hasn’t managed to bump Sleepy Joe off yet. Of course, every Ken can only be perfect. However, how come there’s no lesbian Barbies or gay Kens? That doesn’t sound very inclusive. Maybe they’re keeping that for the sequel.

From the second day we see her, however, she’s starting to tire of her perfect existence, and realises she now has flat feet and cellulite, pondering aloud, “Do you ever think about dying?”

However, it’s also sexist against men, since given that Kens don’t have genitals, as Weird Barbie remarks, “I want to see what that nude blob is packing inside those jeans”.

But to escape… and sort-of give this a plot, Barbie has to take a trip from Barbie World to the real world, attempting to find the specific girl who used play with her, and centres on Sasha (Ariana Greenblatt65), who’s apparently meant to be a ‘tween’, which I understand from Wikipedia is the age 9-12, yet is clearly in high school and the actress is 15, so while I know studios won’t always hire someone of the exact age because such an actor won’t work as well, in this case, they don’t even begin to represent the age they’re pretending to be.

And is Sasha Latino, or do we have to say Latinx? Who comes up with all these daft terms?


However, after the opening 30 mins, the Barbie movie is rather an empty shell and I have absolutely no idea what it’s doing or why. It just seems to make up the plot as it goes along, and rambles on far too long.

As aluded to earlier, there was a good joke where one character says to another (who’s engaging with Barbie), “Are you two Shining?”, but again, like the 2001 reference, I doubt the target audience are particularly well-versed in the films of Stanley Kubrick.

Around 90 minutes in, I saw a mother and her two children walk out. Seems rather a long time to sit through a film not to stay until the end, but then perhaps they’d had enough? They certainly missed nothing. This film needed better plotting, as well as not to run for any longer than an hour-and-a-half, but Hollywood frequently likes to make blockbusters run far longer than they need to.

Sure, Oppenheimer is a great, well-structured three-hour movie, but both Indiana Jones and the Dial of Destiny, and Mission Impossible: Dead Reckoning Part One are nearly knocking on the three-hour mark and have no reason to do so! Their directors really need some discipline. As does Ms Gerwig.

A week after my first viewing of this, I did go back for a second bite of the cherry, in a bid to see if there was a chance it could improve.

Well, instead of just the first 30 minutes, the whole first half of the film does come together more, now. However, the rest of it is still quite a mess of a script, and like Insidious 5: The Red Door, it also reminds me of the game we used to play at school, known as both “picture consequences” and “exquisite corpse”, where you and others in your class would take it in turns to draw portions of a body, i.e. head, torso, legs and feet, but after each turn, you’d fold the paper over so that no-one else could see what you’d drawn. By the end, you all look at the finished product and wonder “What the hell is that?!”

That said, it’s clear that Ryan Gosling is the best thing in this, and certainly seems to be enjoying himself more than most. Makes a change, given how expressionless he was in First Man and Blade Runner 2049.

I’ve also got “I’m Just Ken” running through my head, and his mention of ‘blonde fragility’ would also be applied to other similar types of fragility you come across in life and on social media…

However, one annoying thing for which I’m still trying to get an answer on – the screen I sat it on the second time is their biggest non-premium screen, and while I gather each screen 2.39:1 screen like this has a zoom-type setting that changes from projecting a 1.85:1 image to filling the 2.39:1 screen – so for something like Mission Impossible, the picture for the film does indeed fill the screen – I wondered if there’s also a manual adjustment option for the occasional film which doesn’t conform to either aspect ratio and falls somewhere inbetween.

In Barbie‘s case, the film is in 2.00:1, so was projected as if it was a 1.85:1 film, and was effectively windowboxed, with black bars all the way round.

A couple of weeks later, and I was really at a loose end on a Sunday afternoon, and yes, I did go back for a third viewing, just to see if it might improve slightly. This was one of the biggest mistakes, ever.

It was the same big screen (8) as I saw it on my second viewing, but to say the audience were badly behaved is an understatement.

To me left (with a seat gap or two), there was a woman with her daughter. The woman put her phone in the cupholder (ewww… how gunky are those?!), with it partly facing me until I asked her to turn it round, and she got obviously arsey every time she was using it during the film and I was asking her not to.

Meanwhile, the daughter thought nothing of taking her shoes and socks off, and putting her bare feet up on the chair in front.

But that was a walk in the park compared to what was happening in front, where in the last 30 mins of the film, girls from two or three families started leaving their seats to start running up and down the length of the screen at the front, before returning back to their families, then setting off again a few minutes later. And repeat until the end.

Some time later, I asked Cineworld why don’t they check the CCTV regularly in the screens. They replied because they don’t have any! So, if I wanted anything stopping, I’d have to go out of my way to leave the screen to get someone. And I wouldn’t want to leave my stuff in the presence of that woman playing with her phone!

Counter that with what Odeon do, as I’ve seen them come in, without prompting, to deal with one lad who sneaked in, then walked through to the fire door and exited through that; and a time when they stopped someone putting their feet on a chair. BECAUSE THEY HAVE CCTV TO CHECK!

As for Barbenheimer, you can read more about that in my Oppenheimer review.

Barbie is in cinemas now, and is available to pre-order on 4K Blu-ray, Blu-ray and DVD.

Barbie – Official Trailer – Warner Bros

Detailed specs:

Running time: 114 minutes
Release date: July 21st 2023
Studio: Warner Bros
Aspect Ratio: 2.00:1 (Arri Alexa 65)
Cinema: Cineworld Didsbury
Rating: 5.5/10 (4/10 on first viewing)

Director: Greta Gerwig
Producers: Tom Ackerley, Robbie Brenner, David Heyman, Margot Robbie
Screenplay: Greta Gerwig, Noah Baumbach
Music: Mark Ronson, Andrew Wyatt

Barbie: Margot Robbie
Ken: Ryan Gosling
Gloria: America Ferrera
Sasha: Ariana Greenblatt
Weird Barbie: Kate McKinnon
President Barbie: Issa Rae
CEO of Mattel: Will Ferrell
Aaron Dinkins: Connor Swindells
CFO of Mattel: Jamie Demetriou
Midge: Emerald Fennell
Writer Barbie: Alexandra Shipp
Physicist Barbie: Emma Mackey
Dr. Barbie: Hari Nef
Lawyer Barbie: Sharon Rooney
Judge Barbie: Ana Cruz Kayne
Journalist Barbie: Ritu Arya
Mermaid Barbies: Dua Lipa
Diplomat Barbie: Nicola Coughlan
Barbie Video Girl: Mette Narrative
Teen Talk Barbie: Marisa Abela
Proust Barbie: Lucy Boynton
Tourist Ken: Simu Liu
Basketball Ken: Kingsley Ben-Adir
Stereotypical Ken: Scott Evans
Artist Ken: Ncuti Gatwa
Kenmaid, merman Ken: John Cena
Sugar Daddy Ken: Rob Brydon
Earring Magic Ken: Tom Stourton
Ken Emcee: Chris Taylor
Footrub Ken: David Mumeni
Allan: Michael Cera
Young Sasha: Genvieve Toussaint
Ruth Handler: Rhea Perlman
Narrator: Helen Mirren
Skipper: Erica Ford
“Growing Up” Skipper: Hannah Khalique-Brown
Woman on the bench: Ann Roth
Young Mattel employee: Will Merrick
Mattel warehouse employee: Asim Chaudhry
Anxiety Mom: Annie Mumolo
Time Mom: Lauren Holt
Gloria’s husband: Ryan Piers Williams
Dan at the FBI: Ray Fearon
2001 Girls: Olivia Brody, Isla Ashworth, Eire Farrell, Daisy Duczmal