5 out of 5 

  • Expect an unexpected plot line complete with a well put together music score.
  • Ryan Gosling delivers his best performance yet.
  • Barbie is expected to generate $100 million+ during opening weekend.

She’s everything, but he is Ryan Gosling.

Starring Margot Robbie and Ryan Gosling as Barbie and Ken, Greta Gerwig’s highly anticipated Barbie was a smash among pre-screeners. Boasting a star-studded cast (Kate McKinnon, Issa Rae, Simu Liu, Will Ferrell, Michael Cera and other big names), Barbie is like the Avengers of the toy industry. But it’s not just promotional material for Mattel (MAT)—the movie serves as insight into society’s gender expectations and ideas of self-worth, tackling politics without losing its upper hand as a fun summer movie. 

The performances 

Robbie played Stereotypical Barbie, Will Ferrell played Mattel’s CEO, Kate McKinnon played Weird Barbie and Michael Cera played Allen. To explain Robbie’s performance is to give away the experience and the plot, but she brings new layers of depth to Barbie that viewers haven’t seen in the animated 42-movie franchise. She exudes chemistry with America Ferrera, who plays Ferrell’s assistant Gloria, and with Gosling. And as comedians, Ferrell, McKinnon and Cera added tasteful humor without being over-the-top for a children’s movie and played into their strengths. 

Notably, we can expect an Oscar nomination for best male lead for Gosling. For Ken, every day is a good day only if he’s seen by Barbie, and Gosling plays that role. He’s pathetic and charming, inciting laughs in almost every scene he’s in. He brings personality to a doll who was given almost none, and his comedic deliveries rival his work in The Nice Guys. Early viewers were not wrong to say this is his best performance yet. 

The story (as revealed in the trailers)

Barbie moves across two worlds: a Barbieland filled with Kens and Barbies, and the real world populated with real humans. While still in Barbieland, Robbie’s Barbie begins experiencing changes—her feet fall flat, she loses her ability to float in the air and thoughts about death begin to plague her. So, she seeks answers from Weird Barbie. Presented with the option to stay in Barbieland or go into the real world, she’s forced to journey to the real world with Gosling’s Ken where she experiences human hardships and emotions. 

The hype

The plot, acting and music make the film better than expected. Often, I see a cast full of A-listers as compensation for bad writing and directing (think Amsterdam and Babylon, ironically both featuring Margot Robbie and named after cities), but Gerwig, who wrote the screenplay with her offscreen parter, Noah Baumbach, clearly understood the gravity of the expectations for Barbie. In representing seven decades of the most influential doll in the world, Gerwig and Baumbach surpassed what even the most optimistic critics predicted. Every minute of the movie contributed to the story, leaving little room or reason to look away.  

The math 

Featuring a soundtrack stacked with music from major artists like Dua Lipa, Billie Eilish, Dominic Fike, Charlie XCX, Nicki Minaj and Ice Spice, Warner Bros. Discovery (WBD) didn’t hold back on production costs. In fact, with a budget of $145 million, according to The New York Times, Robbie and Gosling earned $12.5 million each, making Robbie the highest-paid actress in Hollywood. Mattel even reached an agreement to feature Aqua, who previously wrote Barbie World and filed a major lawsuit that Aqua won by claiming the song was a parody. You know the one: “I’m a Barbie girl, in the Barbie world / Life in plastic, it’s fantastic.”  

Beyond the budget, Mattel partnered with over 100 brands, according to The Wall Street Journal. Including Burger King, Gap, Xbox, Beis Travel, Joybird and Airbnb, and everything in between, Mattel ensured everyone everywhere was exposed to Barbie. Dubbed “Barbiecore,” almost every product is the standard Pantone 219 Barbie Pink, created in 2011. With Mattel racking in $1.5 billion from Barbie every year, expect numbers to jump following the premiere. 

Even Alphabet (GOOGL) turned its Google search page pink and overlayed flashing pink sparkles when you type in “Barbie” or “Barbie movie,” easily making it the most widely marketed movie this summer. And on the red carpet, Robbie’s looks mirrored those of famous past Barbies, with her stylist replicating the coiffures of “Solo in the Spotlight Barbie” from 1960 for the Los Angeles World Premiere and “Day to Night Barbie” from 1985 for the Seoul, South Korea Premiere

All promotion by the actors ended the week before the official premiere because of the SAG-AFTRA strike, the union representing American actors and screenwriters. Because of the strike, all members under SAG-AFTRA cease promotion and production of films and TV shows until they reach a new agreement with management.  

The takeaway 

Overall, Luckbox awards Barbie a 5 out of 5. The movie is bound to be the star of the summer and will pop up all throughout awards season. View it in theaters beginning Thursday, July 20.