Barbie Movie Review: Inside Gerwig’s Barbieland

View of Margot Robbie at the Barbie Movie Premiere, waving on the pink carpet

Image - DFree / Shutterstock

Friday July 21st saw the release of one of the most eagerly anticipated box office films of the year. Barbie fans of all ages flocked to cinemas worldwide, donning anything pink and sparkly for this momentous film that would see everyone’s favourite childhood doll brought to life in a new adventure.

Margot Robbie and Ryan Gosling take on the infamous roles of Barbie and Ken in this highly stylised, and comedic film that explores the whimsical aspects of Barbie as created by Mattel, with a deeper, satirical theme running throughout.

As of Tuesday July 11, the Spanish government have declared Tuesday ‘movie day’ for the over 65’s with cinema tickets at a cut price of €2, and with the release of Barbie and Oppenheimer this rule could not have come at a better time.

The Plot

The film starts by depicting the perfectly perfect place that is Barbieland, where we see cameos from Sex Education‘s Emma Mackey, Bridgerton and Derry Girls star, Nicola Coughlan , and iconic popstar Dua Lipa , all appearing as Barbie’s with successful careers or in positions of power. In contrast, we see a multitude of Kens, including Gosling’s stereotypical Ken and Simu Liu’s Ken, whose only given role is to ‘Beach’, ‘Beach off’,and support their Barbies. Herein, we see the depiction of a matriarchal society where Barbie works hard and plays hard, finishing every perfect day with a huge dance party of bespoke choreography and then a girl’s night sleepover.

It’s at the end of this scene that we see the first seeds of unrest with Gosling’s Ken. He feels he needs something more from Robbie’s Barbie, and its from this that we get the hilarious interaction from the trailer where Ken wants to stay over, Barbie can’t understand why, and Ken finally admits that he doesn’t know why either. This is the first piece of adult humour that addresses the infamous smooth bumps that each doll has in place of something else.

Things start to shift in Barbieland when Robbie’s Barbie starts to have thoughts of death, and the final straw is when her heels touch the ground, and her fellow Barbie’s scream in disgust of her flat feet! Here, is where our story starts – with Barbie and Ken’s venture to the real world.

Gerwig and Robbie’s vision sees Barbie in for a rude awakening with leering from male construction workers – who are immediately silenced after she informs them of her lack of genitals – a poster of Miss Universe pageant girls that she mistakes rather hilariously for the Supreme Court, and the realisation that Barbie’s career success and perfect looks have created an impossible beauty standard for women in the real world.

Ken on the other hand is delighted to see that men in the real world are treated with more respect, and are dominating society in positions of power. Rather hysterically, we see Ken dawn on the idea of bringing the concept of ‘patriarchy'(both men and horses) back to Barbieland, wherein we have the crux of the plot.

One of the biggest jewels of this film, in my opinion, came in the form of the satirical Mattel trailer for chronically depressed Barbie, who watches Colin Firth‘s Pride and Prejudice on repeat, and eats a family size pack of starbursts whilst doing so. From the shocked gasps and laughs of the crowd in Red Dog Cinema at Puerto Banús, this tidbit of dark humour landed well and was one of the most audibly appreciated throughout the entire film.

From the conflict that ‘Kendom’ causes with the sudden shift to a patriarchal society in Barbieland, and the exploration of Ken finding that he is indeed ‘Kenough’ once power is taken back by the Barbies, it is clear that this film is an ode to feminism. The fantastic uselessness of the Mattel CEO, played by the iconic Will Ferrel, the dark jokes about women having no power in the real world, and the self-deprecating line from the ‘producers’ that Margot Robbie is not the right actress to cast in a role if the point is to say that Barbie is no longer pretty, all address key issues towards the movement for egalitarianism.

Oh and now for the question that we’ve all been asking ourselves…

Who are Allan and Midge?

Micheal Cera dedubts as the hilariously single, Allan doll, who seems to be a cheerleader for the Kens at the start of the movie before finding his place amongst the Barbies at the end – but who is this doll and why is he significant? Well, Mattel’s reference here is to the discontinued Allan doll that was introduced by Mattel in 1964, as a ‘best buddy’ for Ken and a boyfriend for Midge, depicted by Emma Fennel. There are several jokes thrown around the movie regarding these two nostalgic dolls. Allan’s main selling point was that all of Ken’s clothes would also fit him, whilst Midge’s discontinuation came when a pregnant version of her doll was pulled from the shelves in 2002 amid fears that her doll encouraged teen pregnancy. Overall, these two characters add a fantastic comedic element to the Barbie world that is one of the shining star moments of the movie.

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Written by

Emily Herbertson

Originally from the UK, Emily is based in Marbella and is a writer for the Euro Weekly News covering news and features. Got a news story you want to share? Then get in touch at