By Anne T. Donahue
On Tuesday, our worlds were changed forever upon the release of the first trailer for Barbie, the Greta Gerwig-directed movie starring Margot Robbie in the titular role and Ryan Gosling as “just Ken.” (A perfect description!)
Understandably, we lost our collective minds. Memes were made. Screencaps were shared. An app was given to us in which we could make our own Barbie posters (which I absolutely did, placing Fran the Cat in a featured role of which she more than deserves). Did the trailer give us a plot? No, but it gave us great lines and a lot of pink. And now, a few days later, with some time for the honeymoon feeling to wear off and our critical minds to come into play, we must ask ourselves the tough question: does Barbie look, well, good?
Um, yes. Are you kidding me? Did you see the hair? The clothes? The obviously very-intense choreographed dance and/or song numbers? Did you glean a sense of joy? Of happiness? Of goddamn escape? Barbie is exactly what we, as a sad, desperate, struggling people need right now: a source of bliss in a time of absolutely the opposite. There could be no plot, and I would accept it. I would watch it, repeatedly, in the theatres, while crying quietly to myself about how maybe it wasn’t weird that my best friend and I played Barbies well into grade seven, or that my greatest regret is having given away my Pizza Hut Barbie set which is now the Holy Grail.
I, like all of us, am a tired person. Every day is a brick on the pathway to hell, and for once amidst the conveyer belt of the worst news possible constantly, I would like to carve out an hour-and-some to be exactly where I am not. Barbie looks to be that place: a world in which rollerblades are a must-have, Issa Rae is president, and Midge is perpetually with child. Is there are tangible storyline? Not so far, but lest we forget that The Godfather doesn’t exactly brim with definitive narrative, either. Coppola gave us a film about a guy navigating the ins and outs of a new (to him) world. Gerwig seems to be doing the same, but this time with beach-offs. (And maybe less murder? But also, who knows: we don’t know what being a Barbie girl in a Barbie world actually entails.)
The thing is, we deserve to have fun. We deserve to laugh at jokes and to go the movies and leave without sifting through a Dewey Decimal system worth of emotions. (I need a break. I need to not feel for like, three seconds.) Is there a time and place for cerebral, emotional features? Oh, hell yes. (See: this year’s Oscar nominees, thank you very much.) But my favourite movies – the ones I watch over and over as a source of comfort and warmth – aren’t necessarily heavy. They’re funny and weird and are a tie between Reality Bites and Dazed and Confused and Dick and Clueless. They’re a portal to my favourite memories or sparkling moments in my younger life, where I can re-connect to parts of my past and incarnations of my previous selves. They may not have changed the cinematic game, but they mean something to me.
And I know this puts a lot of pressure on Barbie. Maybe it won’t be great! Maybe it will be a just-okay movie in which we get to experience movie theatre air conditioning in the middle of a July heatwave! Maybe it’ll be the kind of movie you quote with your friends to excess, or make your entire personality for a while on social media. Maybe it’ll teach us some valuable life lessons! Maybe it will teach us that Ryan Gosling looks shockingly decent with bleach blonde hair! Either way, it’s a treat to look forward to something that seems to exist as a means of joyous escape. So yes, Barbie is worth the hype to me, a person who has no idea what she’s about to get herself into, but is willing to go for it anyway.
If only Greta Gerwig had just cast Fran.
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– THE STORY OF: Barbie