'Barbie' review

I have just returned from my third viewing of 'Barbie', and again grinned the whole way through. It is a total joy to be immersed in the bright pink utopia of Barbieland: an escapist girl power fantasy to which I already can't wait to return.

Barbieland is a female paradise, where all women are happy, successful and independent, and every night is "girls' night". Barbies are astronauts, Nobel prize winners and Presidents, and every day is perfect. As far as the Barbies are concerned, this is also the case in the real world, where, as Helen Mirren's voice-over narrates: “thanks to Barbie, all problems of feminism and equal rights have been solved.”

Margot Robbie is perfect as "stereotypical Barbie", who must save Barbieland from the patriarchy, after discovering that the real world is not quite the same feminist idyll she imagined. Her pink bubble bursts when she confidently roller-skates up to a construction site, as "where better to find some feminine energy?" Oblivious to the concept of sexual harassment, it is a rude awakening to find that everything Barbieland represents is reversed in the real world. 

Desperate for Barbie to "see the man behind the tan" and win her affection, Ryan Gosling is a comedic genius as Ken, and his dream ballet dance sequence is one of the film's highlights. Thrilled to learn of the power awarded to men in the real world, he returns to Barbieland with a newfound sense of superiority. Under his influence, Barbieland is replaced by Kendom, where the Kens play their guitars at the Barbies for hours and mansplain 'The Godfather'. 

With a knowing, witty humour, Gerwig reinvents "Barbie" as a celebratory feminist icon, while clearly presenting the toy's problematic history. In the real world, Barbie's unrealistic beauty ideal "set the feminist movement back fifty years", but in Barbieland, no two Barbies look the same. Interspersing moments of poignant patriarchal commentary (America Ferrera's speech on gender double standards is a punch-the-air moment for women universally), it is utterly feel-good from start to finish, and I can't remember the last time I laughed so much in a cinema.

In keeping with the film's girl power theme, Greta Gerwig is now the highest-grossing female director of all time. It is also the highest-grossing domestic film in Warner Bros' history. Long live Barbie!

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