Barbie (2023), a well-meaning but imperfect romp

Venkatarangan Thirumalai
2 min readMay 1, 2024

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What struck me most about Barbie is the way it seamlessly blends two vastly different worlds: the whimsical, doll-filled universe of Barbie and the harsh realities of our own world. It’s a bold move, especially considering this is a movie aimed at adults as well as kids. The transition between these worlds is largely thanks to Gerwig ‘s clever handling. While I appreciate the effort that goes into addressing serious social issues like patriarchy and gender inequality, the film ultimately falls short due to an uninspiring climax. That’s why Mangoidiots gives Barbie a Raw rating — it had so much potential but failed to deliver in the end.

Margot Robbie shines as the titular Barbie, bringing depth and nuance to a character that could have easily been one-dimensional. Her portrayal of Barbie’s depression is particularly noteworthy and so was Ryan Gosling as Ken. The supporting cast like Simu Liu, America Ferrera, Emma Mackey, and Ncuti Gatwa, were familiar to me from their earlier appearances in popular TV shows.

The plot follows Barbie as she navigates the consequences of developing a “flat” foot in her perfect doll world. When she and Ken venture into the real world to find answers, they’re shocked by the stark reality of patriarchal dominance. It’s here that the film raises some important points about women’s struggles and the need for change. However, the writing falters in places, with the film’s attempts at impactful dialogue falling flat, and coming across as overly dramatic. The Mattel CEO and team are particularly disappointing, serving as buffoons rather than agents of change. A wise old grandma — played by Ruth Handler, the ghost of the co-founder of Mattel — is eventually brought in to wrap things up, which feels like a contrived solution.

Despite its flaws, Barbie is an admirable attempt at tackling tough issues. With a sharper screenplay, it could have been something truly special. As it stands, I still enjoyed it, but I can’t help feeling that it missed the mark by just a little bit.

Margot Robbie as Barbie

Originally published at https://venkatarangan.com on May 1, 2024.

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Venkatarangan Thirumalai

A Founder Catalyst and a Microsoft Regional Director (Honorary).