Barbie Early Buzz: It Is Greta Gerwig's World, And We Just Live In It


July 21, 2023 will be a heck of a day for those looking forward to Greta Gerwig's "Barbie," which if the trailers are to be believed, looks like a wild ride for all the Barbies and Kens of that world. The hype surrounding Gerwig's film is rooted in a love for the source material — which fans cheekily refer to as Barbie™ lore — and a potentially fresh, intriguing cinematic journey that delves into deeper themes while still keeping things fun and interesting. As the film premieres on the same day as Christopher Nolan's biographical thriller "Oppenheimer," a flurry of comparison memes has flooded the internet for quite some time, inevitably culminating in the "Barbenheimer" phenomenon that pits these tonally different films together.

Playful jokes aside, the first critical reactions for "Barbie" after the film's premiere yesterday only serve to strengthen fanbase expectations of a film that's audacious in its ability to entertain in a way that's genuinely smart, fun, and larger-than-life. The praise for Gerwig's film seems to be unanimous at the moment, where Ryan Gosling's Ken has emerged as the natural focal point, as critics believe that it is one of Gosling's most entertaining performances to date (makes sense, must be all the Ken-ergy). The film has also been praised for its tongue-in-cheek whimsicality, which feeds into the central story about finding oneself at the edge of what one believes to be real. Without further ado, let's look into the early buzz surrounding "Barbie" now, shall we?

The thrills and terrors of Barbieland

ScreenRant's Joseph Deckelmeier called "Barbie" "funny, bombastic, & very smart," while praising Gosling, Margot Robbie, and Simu Liu's performances and expressing that he was pleasantly "caught off guard" by the film. He also went on to praise Gerwig's direction, stating that she has hit "a home run."'s Jamie Jirak also echoed a similar sentiment by praising Gerwig, stating that the director "tackles the positives and negatives of Barbie so beautifully." The praise for Gosling's performance is especially strong here, as Jirak stated that his role as Ken deserves "an Oscar nomination." During the interviews to promote the film, Gosling playfully underlined his dedication to channeling "Ken-ergy," and how he felt about Ken being ignored in popular culture, believing that "his story must be told." Turns out, Gosling's dedication to bringing Ken to life in all his lore-accurate nuances (or lack thereof) has paid off.

While critics seem to be praising "Barbie" for its entertainment factor and audaciousness, what about the narrative itself? Collider's Perri Nemiroff talked about her impressions of the film in detail, stating that she felt "more mixed" about the story when compared to the film's incredible "craftsmanship." While Nemiroff expressed awe for "Barbie's" costume and production design, she believes that "important arcs ... needed more screen time" despite the film having "a VERY strong voice and vision."

Considering these varied, yet mostly-positive reactions, it seems that "Barbie" might have some narrative flaws, but Gerwig's vision is undoubtedly unparalleled when it comes to the material she has been handling. It is clear that Gerwig understands Barbieland like no one else and dives into what it means to be a part of such a plastic, yet fantastic realm.

Ken stays winning

The praises for "Barbie" do not stop here, of course. "Pay Or Wait" host Sharronda Williams described Gerwig's film as "witty, heartfelt and downright fun," and praised Robbie's performance, calling it one that will "tug at your heartstrings." While Williams called the film's screenplay "bloated," she had high praise for Gosling, calling him "a scene stealer" and capable of eliciting the most amount of laughs.

But wait, there's more. Variety's Katcy Stephan called "Barbie" "perfection," praising Gerwig's ability to pull off "a nuanced commentary" on the notion of womanhood in a fantastical, whimsical world. Stephan also heralded Robbie and Gosling's performances as spectacular, stating that "they were clearly born to play" these respective roles and shine in a film so bold in its premise and vision. While the film's tonally lighter aspects do seem fun, it will be interesting to see how Gerwig uses satire to dissect the history and legacy of Barbie, and how these glamorous dolls have shaped our connection to imagination and fantasy, which often bleed into reality. 

Other reactions to the film mostly emphasize Gerwig's ability to elevate the premise with bombastic fun mixed with smart commentary, with Robbie and Gosling playing out their parts in pitch-perfect ways while being complemented by a stacked cast. Based on the praises showered on Gosling's performance alone, one can expect a Ken resurgence sometime soon, maybe? In the end, "Barbie" seems to be a worthwhile, enjoyable trip into wonderland, and the wondrous epiphanies and rude awakenings that all the Barbies and Ken experience along the way.

"Barbie" hits theatres on July 21, 2023.

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