The cinematic event of the century known as Barbenheimer has arrived and with it comes an array of discourse over which will perform better at the box-office, some even declaring you have to pick a side for such a battle. Barbie and Oppenheimer share a release date and that's just about it so, if you truly love cinema, checking out both films from two renowned filmmakers is the only option. Greta Gerwig's Barbie is set to be the party of the summer this year so pack your brightest outfit for a journey like no other.

After being expelled from the utopian Barbie Land for being less-than-perfect dolls, Barbie (Margot Robbie) and Ken (Ryan Gosling) go on a journey of self-discovery together to the real world.

Barbie opens with a genius homage to 2001: A Space Odyssey, Helen Mirren's narrator explaining how the introduction of Barbie changed the way little girls looked at dolls forever. From there we are taken to Barbie Land, introductions to copious amounts of Barbies as well as hearing "Hi Barbie" and "Hi Ken" enough times to truly test the patience setting the scene. It's an opening half hour that may see some against it from the off but this Ken was all in, and sticking with the film is a must to see what Greta Gerwig does with it all.

Gerwig has quickly become a filmmaker to stand up and take notice of, Barbie being her third film and the confidence behind the camera is in full swing in this fantasy adventure for the ages. Writing with her husband, Noah Baumbach, Gerwig delivers a film so hilarious yet inventive in its approach to telling such a poignant story. One moment you'll be laughing at a load of Kens threatening each other with a "beach-off" before sitting back and taking in one hell of a monologue from America Ferrera about how women are expected to carry themselves these days. If the first half hour threatens to irritate, the final half hour ties it all up with an unexpected emotional bow that takes it into film of the year conversations. If you're a man and already thinking of making a hate video towards this film, maybe just don't go and see it. Or maybe do and learn a few things about women.

Inbetween all of this, there is a delightfully charming fish-out-of-water comedy that sees Barbie and Ken travel to the real world. It's insanely goofy but Gerwig just makes it work, Ryan Gosling's Ken leaving me in tears at points. You can sense the enthusiasm for the film behind the scenes and every aspect just clicks into place, the intricate production design and detailed costumes complimenting each other so well.
A film with this many iterations of Barbie and Ken may struggle to juggle them all as they fight for screen time but Gerwig handles it wonderfully, giving most of them their time to shine in such a packed film. Simu Liu's Ken, the main rival to Gosling's Ken, is hilariously obnoxious while Kate McKinnon's Weird Barbie offers a different kind of absurdity to proceedings. Michael Cera's Allan deserves a special shoutout for popping up every now and then to go against the Ken stereotype, as does Helen Mirren's narrator, who might just have the best line of the film, so listen out for that.

Then you get to Margot Robbie, who literally IS Barbie here with a great performance that balances the comedic and dramatic to near perfection. It's become a bit common to say an actor was born to play a role but that's definitely the case here, Robbie lighting up the screen with her undeniable presence whilst bringing plenty of gravitas to the character. The performance that will get the most coverage though has to be Ryan Gosling's hilarious turn as Ken, hopelessly in love with Barbie but has his eyes well and truly opened during their trip to the real world. Gosling just does goofy so incredibly well and from the reaction at the screening, he will be a big hit with audiences around the world.

Barbie is the cinematic party of the summer and a film that delivers a relevant message in such a fantastical manner. Expect it to be a major player come awards season, something I never thought I'd be saying when the film was announced.

Verdict: ★★★★★


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