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Parents' Guide to

Barbie

By Sandie Angulo Chen, Common Sense Media Reviewer

age 11+

Clever, colorful comedy with sophisticated themes, script.

Movie PG-13 2023 114 minutes
Barbie: Movie Poster: Barbie and Ken on a giant pink-and-white B

A Lot or a Little?

What you will—and won't—find in this movie.

Community Reviews

age 11+

Based on 159 parent reviews

age 13+

It’s PG-13 and I think that’s about right. But you know your child.

I saw Barbie with my teen daughter who has loved Barbie all her life, and now appreciates Greta Gerwig’s filmmaking. She loved it. The film has hilariously over-the-top silliness and a thoughtful message about finding your place in the world and the struggle between being bright and shiny and also flawed and frustrated, while also exploring the power dynamic between men and women in today’s society. Yeah, there’s a lot going on, and some of that might confuse younger audiences, but I don’t think that’s hurtful in any way. Barbie’s having an existential crisis in the movie, so it’s not all fun and games, but the women in my audience responded to the America Ferrera character in a way that indicated they felt deeply understood. There are a couple references to genitalia (or the lack thereof) that may be a little cringey if you’re watching with a younger viewer, but I’m much more concerned about violence in movies than that kind of humor. Basically, if you’re the kind of parent who thinks everything has an agenda right now, you’re going to think that about this movie. But if you’re open to inclusivity and a conversation about what women want and deserve in life, you’ll probably enjoy it like we did. And Ryan Gosling is HILARIOUS. He goes all out. But the acting is great across the board. I’m looking forward to seeing it again when it comes to streaming.
age 11+

Worth seeing & discussing with tweens and up

Is this a kid’s movie? No. And not because it’s political (really, I’m not sure I saw the same film some of these folks are talking about!) or because it’s suggestive. It’s not a kid movie because it’s overall themes and message will go over a young child’s head and there isn’t enough just-kid-fun stuff to engage them. And that’s okay, because this film wasn’t created to be a kids movie. The target audience - tweens, teens, and adults - will enjoy the balance of silliness and seriousness. It actually doesn’t take itself nearly as seriously as some viewers have. But it does have a point and if you’re paying attention you’ll see it play out. it’s not “girl power” or “down with men”… it’s that we all, men and women alike…should have the freedom to be the person we want to be. To express emotions. To be strong. To feel insecure. To feel confident and proud. To be imperfect and to be human. At its core the message is about doing away with the idea that a woman or a man must behave a certain way - no matter that way is - in order to be doing life right. That’s not political. As a Christian parent with two college age kids, I am grateful my son knows he can choose the elements of traditional masculinity that he wants, while also be able to admit he’s scared or sad or not an athletic guy. And that my daughter can get dolled up for a Barbie film, be all the feminine traits she wants and also be strong and bold and brazen…and be called those things vs “pushy” or worse. That’s the message here in this film. So yes, if you want your middle school child to see a positive message like that, this isn’t a bad film to watch together and discuss later….just don’t take your 5 year old if you don’t him or her to be bored.

Is It Any Good?

Our review:
Parents say (159 ):
Kids say (160 ):

Greta Gerwig's delightful comedy adventure is bolstered by Robbie and Gosling's impeccable performances, a top-notch ensemble cast, and a witty screenplay. The two stars are perfectly cast in the iconic lead roles, humanizing the doll characters and nailing both the emotional beats and the comedic aspects of Barbie's and Ken's development. The sprawling supporting cast is also well selected, with memorable performances from Rae as the Barbie president, America Ferrera as truth-telling human mom Gloria, Simu Liu as Gosling's rival Ken, and Will Ferrell as the smarmy CEO of Mattel. Three young actors from Sex Education -- Emma Mackey, Ncuti Gatwa, and Connor Swindells -- make notable appearances in supporting roles, and Academy Award-winning filmmaker/screenwriter Emerald Fennell turns up as Barbie's discontinued pregnant friend, Midge. Overall, Barbieland is a pleasingly inclusive place, where the Barbies and Kens can be more than thin, White, and blond as they sing and dance in their carefully curated outfits.

This movie isn't like the many animated Barbie movies, and its sophisticated themes may land better with teens and adults than tweens and kids. But the contrast between the movie's serious societal commentary and the trippy, nostalgic comedy manages not to feel off-putting or off-balance. Ken's explanations about the benefits of the patriarchy (horses, hats, all the top jobs!) are laugh-out-loud funny, while Gloria's passionate speech about the ways women must and mustn't act in human society rings soberingly true. For all of the jokes, there's a ton of heart in the screenplay, with Robbie and Gosling both getting many scene-stealing, moving monologues. Their memorable portrayals carry the movie, but the behind-the-scenes technicians deserve awards, too, including production designer Sarah Greenwood for the film's pink-infused Barbie-core set pieces, music supervisor George Drakoulias for the Mark Ronson-produced soundtrack, Oscar-winning costume designer Jacqueline Durran for the hundreds of authentic Barbie and Ken costumes, and director of photography Rodrigo Prieto for the fizzy cinematography. An ideal mother-daughter pick and a collaborative achievement worthy of the hype, this Barbie is a keeper.

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