Barbie hits theaters on July 21, and the movie has already received rave reviews and earned a huge Rotten Tomatoes score. The long-anticipated movie is based on the iconic doll of the same name, but Warner Bros. has taken a much more creative approach to the movie compared to other IP-driven films. Barbie is directed by Academy Award-nominated filmmaker Greta Gerwig, stars Academy Award-nominated actor Margot Robbie, and co-written by Academy Award-nominated scribe Noah Baumbach. Needless to say, the fantasy comedy movie has some serious talent and prestige behind it.
Barbie needs $300 million to break even, and even though it’s being released on the same day as the hotly-anticipated new Christopher Nolan movie, Oppenheimer, box office projections indicate there’s no doubt Barbie will achieve this goal. Not only has Warner Bros. cleverly marketed the movie to appeal to everyone, regardless of age, gender, or Barbie doll opinions, but the film has now also achieved glowing reviews. At the time of writing, Barbie has a shockingly high “fresh” 90% on Rotten Tomatoes, and while that’s subject to change with more reviews that become available, it’ll hardly drop by much. Given the mass appeal of the movie, critics have numerous reasons for loving Barbie.
10 Barbie Is One Of The Funniest Movies Of The Year
Barbie has been endlessly praised for its humor, as Christy Lemire writes, “Barbie can be hysterically funny, with giant laugh-out-loud moments generously scattered throughout” (via Roger Ebert). The movie is full of comedy, fun Easter eggs, and cameos that will make audiences grin from ear to ear, with John Cena as Merman Ken ticking every one of those boxes. Barbie also nails the meta-humor that many recent comedies have been attempting ever since it was popularized in its current form by 21 Jump Street. Though a couple of reviews criticized a couple of mean-spirited jokes, for the most part, the humor lands, and not one but several critics have called it one of the funniest comedies of the year.
9 Barbie Continues Greta Gerwig’s Little Women & Lady Bird Themes
When Greta Gerwig was announced as Barbie’s director, it came as a surprise given that the filmmaker is best known for Academy Award-winning dramas such as Little Women and Lady Bird. However, based on the themes of those movies, Gerwig was the perfect Barbie director, and her films are led by strong female characters, which she could apply to Barbie. That’s exactly what she has done, as Ross Bonaime notes, “Barbie balances the incredibly pointed specificity of the jokes and relatability of Lady Bird, with the celebration of women and the ability to show a new angle of something we thought we knew like we saw with Gerwig’s take on Little Women” (via Collider).
8 Barbie Is Visually Stunning
Anyone who has seen the Barbie trailer can see how the crew has gone to such a painstaking effort to make Barbie so visually pleasing, even for viewers who don’t like the color pink. Michael Philips writes, “Highest honors to production designer Sarah Greenwood, costume designer Jacqueline Durran and cinematographer Rodrigo Prieto” (via Chicago Tribune). The entire Barbie world, including a full-size Barbie dreamhouse, was built by a talented crew, and there was even a rumor about a shortage of pink paint due to the movie’s production (via Los Angeles Times). The costume design is equally impressive, and the wardrobe faithfully recreates iconic Barbie outfits that span decades.
7 Barbie Doesn’t Feel Like An IP-Driven Cash Grab
With movies based on IP, specifically ones based on toys and board games, it’s easy to churn out a low-quality cash grab, whether it’s Battleship or the Transformers series. However, Barbie is anything but. Devan Coggan reveals that the movie is way more than just another one of those types of movies (via Entertainment Weekly). The critic notes, “It’s Gerwig’s care and attention to detail that gives Barbie an actual point of view, elevating it beyond every other cynical, IP-driven cash grab.” With 2023 already having seen the release of Transformers: Rise of the Beasts and several movies based on branded products, an IP-based movie that takes some creative risks comes as a breath of fresh air.
6 Barbie Is Delightfully Unpredictable
With the meta premise of Barbie leaving her world and meeting her creators at Mattel in the real world, absolutely anything can happen in the movie. When Barbie finds out about the real world, it’s unclear whether she’ll decide to go back and lead an ignorantly blissful life in her own world or stay in this new reality. While a few critics have slammed the final act for being tonally uneven, it has also been praised for being wholly unpredictable. Tori Brazier calls Barbie “a summer movie so unexpected and so unpredictable that it will demand repeat viewings and future essays galore” (via Metro).
5 Margot Robbie Is Perfectly Cast As Barbie
Margot Robbie has gotten endless praise for her performance in Barbie. Ross Bonaime’s Collider review mentions, “[Robbie] has often excelled in these types of roles where we see the power a woman truly has in her environment, but there might not be a better example of that than in Barbie.” With a huge “fresh” 90%, Barbie is tied for Margot Robbie’s best Rotten Tomatoes score ever, as it shares its score with I, Tonya and The Suicide Squad, and that’s largely thanks to the actor’s commitment to the role. Not only does Robbie physically mirror the iconic figure, but she turns a decades-old doll into a three-dimensional character that’s more relevant now than ever. Not only that, but she somehow acts and moves her joints as if they’re made of plastic too.
4 Ryan Gosling Is A Scene-Stealer As Ken
In addition to Robbie being showered with praise, Ryan Gosling’s role as Ken has turned heads. Coggan explains, “For an actor who’s spent much of his career brooding moodily, here, he finally gets to tap into his inner Mousketeer.” Gosling is best known for his roles in Drive, Blade Runner 2049, and The Gray Man, and he rarely ever cracks a smile in any of them. Even in romcoms like Crazy, Stupid, Love, he’s remarkably stoic. However, he has 100% leaned into the campy vibes of the movie. Gosling hasn’t dropped the Ken character either, as he has been embracing Ken during the press junkets with “Big Himbo Kenergy.“
3 Barbie Appeals To Both Children And Adults
Barbie was surprisingly rated PG-13 by the MPAA, meaning that anyone below 13 should be accompanied by an adult. The reason for the movie’s MPAA rating is “suggestive references and brief language.” However, while there are a few sexual innuendos here and there that’ll fly over children’s heads, Barbie is suitable for kids. In fact, despite being a movie based on a doll originally marketed towards little girls, Barbie appeals to kids, teens, and adults. Coggan reveals, “Barbie works hard to entertain both 11-year-old girls and the parents who’ll bring them to the theater.”
2 Barbie Is A Clever & Biting Satire
Mireia Mullor is one of many critics who have been won over by Barbie‘s clever satire (via Digital Spy). The critic writes, “Life in plastic is fantastic indeed: Barbie is a sharp, hilarious and joy-contagious satire of gender roles.” Margot Robbie had one Barbie condition when signing onto the movie, which was that she wanted a diverse roster of Barbies not tied to one skin color or body type. That helped the movie become a biting satire and a social commentary on the Barbie brand. The movie certainly indulges in exactly what the movie is satirizing, such as the flashy cars, houses, and outfits, and in that respect, it oddly draws similarities to Robbie’s breakthrough movie, The Wolf of Wall Street.
1 Barbie Is Much More Than A Toy Commercial
In the best way possible, Peter Bradshaw points out that the 2023 movie is an elevated toy movie (via The Guardian). The critic writes, “This movie is perhaps a giant two-hour commercial for a product, although no more so than The Lego Movie, yet Barbie doesn’t go for the comedy jugular anywhere near as gleefully as that.” While Barbie dolls will undoubtedly fly off the shelves with the release of the new Barbie movie, that clearly wasn’t the first intention of Gerwig and Robbie. The movie is a tasteful take on the iconic doll, and with its meta-jokes and satirical take on the brand, Barbie is much more like The LEGO Movie than The Emoji Movie in regard to showcasing the product.