Yes, I know the movie isn’t out yet. For all we know the movie will be Margot Robbie’s best work, will be hilarious, poignant social commentary I actually agree with, cure cancer, and make us forgive Robbie for the terrible Harley Quinn movie that screwed over Cassandra Cain and the rest of the Gotham ladies that were forced into that garbage.
Okay, we know that last part isn’t happening, but I want it to be clear I am NOT judging this movie on quality of the work. It hasn’t come out and I probably won’t go see it when it does. I am not telling you the movie is terrible and I’m tired of critics being accused of that when judging trailers. Trailers exist for a reason! They are supposed to get people hyped for the movie coming out and give you an idea of the tone and style of the film. It’s not supposed to ruin good jokes and shock moments but tell that to the marketing department. So no, I’m not telling you this is a bad movie.
I’m telling you that the trailer already shows signs of Hollywood’s continuing trend of bad adaptations. I’ve seen good adaptations that are bad stories and bad adaptations that are good stories. My favorite movie is in the latter category. Please understand the spirit of this article. I’m looking at what Warner Brothers thinks will get people to be excited for this movie. I’m not even a Barbie fan but the fact that I know more about Barbie than this trailer indicates the movie does should make them feel bad. It doesn’t and won’t but them’s the fact, kids! Now, if that is out of the way we’ll see who actually read this part when I get accused of “hating” something that’s not even released to the public when I’m talking about what they’re telling us we’re in for. With that….
How can you not know at least something about Barbie and her friends. Those toy commercials aired on my shows just as much as it did the girls shows because somebody realized girls might be watching, either to make their brothers happy so she can watch her show or because she’s not limited to “girly” TV. I know Barbie has multiple friends of multiple hair colors and races, that Ken isn’t the only dude in Barbie’s world, that she has two younger sisters (middle child Skipper is the only one I know by name), and that she’s either a model or can’t hold down a job.
Barbie’s purpose is to show girls they can be anything they want. There was even a tagline for awhile: “We girls can do anything, right, Barbie?” and the recent one is “You can be anything”. Of course the surface viewers just see her thin body and perfect bust and immediately go crazy, that it enforces bad body images or something. There is even a negative connotation around the name “Barbie”, applied to girls considered airheads, the same applying to boys and “Ken”.
So I’m watching The Masked Singer last night and finally see a trailer for the live-action take on Barbie and Ken (not to be confused with Ken Jeong) and my immediate thought was…”wow, this is actually stupider than I thought it would be”.
Greta Gerwig, this is the first movie I’ve heard about that I’ve seen your name attached to, and you’re already off to a bad start.
Let’s ignore the obvious sexual innuendo because it’s not even funny. The toy-related gags were done better by Toy Story movies. Apparently this involves going to the “real world” at some point, which is a plot point I want to see go comatose until someone figures out how to make that plot good again…and it’s funny that I’m referring to Looney Tunes given who is distributing this movie. However, I’m here to discuss the stupidity of the adaptation, and let’s start with the next thought I had about this trailer.
It’s not adapting the Barbie characters, it’s an adaptation of Aqua’s Barbie-trashing song “Barbie Girl”. I like Aqua. I even like this song for the beat, but it’s not an accurate representation of Barbie. It goes back to what I said earlier about Barbie being treated like an airhead because she’s a blonde with a “perfect yet unobtainable figure”. I don’t know why Barbie and Ken are going to the “real world” (or whatever is going to pass for it in this movie) but this is not how Barbie is depicted elsewhere. Yes, if Greta Gerwig tries to pull a Kathleen Kennedy and insist there’s no guide to follow, there is.
Mattel has always been good at making advertisements into stories, creating a world for the kids to play in with their toys. Barbie’s world is different from He-Man’s world, but even without the shows an idea of who Barbie is and how she interacts with her friends are shown though kids at play with Barbie, Ken, and their friends who DON’T share their names. They’ve evolved with the times, introduced new characters for better or for worse. Even I remember Barbie & The Rockers and that time they made the mistake of giving Barbie a new boyfriend, to the dismay of women who grew up with Barbie and Ken as the toybox couple. You know what else Barbie has?
Numerous pieces of media in which Barbie makes plays and movies with her friends, go on horse-riding adventures, apparently had superpowers at one point (need to look into that for the curiosity), went into space with the aforementioned 80s rock group Barbie And The Rockers, had her own magic realm called Dreamtopia (which could have been another of her plays/movies because again, NOT an expert) and then there’s the comics, Little Golden Books (actually used photos of the figures on dioramas to tell their story), I think an audio drama or two…Mattel really went all out giving girls something to work with in creating a world of imagination, where the girlier girls could imagine themselves living some dream princess life, having fun with her friends, playing house, and having cars you wish you could afford. Barbie’s rollin’ in the Benji’s, folks. And I don’t mean her dog.
(Right, she had a dog named Benji? Or am I thinking of the movie dog who once had his own Saturday Morning live-action series where he protected space aliens?)
That’s where I have to ask who this movie is for? The kids? I don’t see any girl who would be into Barbie making stories like this and they know Barbie’s friends aren’t all named Barbie. She does have ONE friend named Barbie so you can have white Barbie and black Barbie…I mean “Malibu” and “Brooklin”…hey, they’re both last named “Roberts”. That’s something I didn’t know. But didn’t Barbie have a black friend named Whitney or something in the 1980s? I was stuck on Eternia.
So is this movie for moms who grew up with the toys and totally know who Barbie’s other “not Barbie” friends are? Hardly, as this seems to be continuing the trend of making fun of the line to the point that I’m already wondering why Mattel greenlit this. Granted, I say the same for the Masters Of The Universe movie, but that’s another topic. It’s reduced Barbie and Ken’s friends to “Barbie and Ken but not white blondes”, seems to be using the “real world” nonsense, and pretty much everything in this trailer looks stupid. I think the rollerblades joke was the only one even mildly amusing and I still didn’t laugh.
“It’s wasn’t made for me”, you say? Fine and for once agreed…but who IS it made for? Fans? Barbie haters? People who like sexual innuendo jokes? That’s where I’m getting lost.