My Cultural Diet

334 reviews of movies, TV shows, books, restaurants, etc. My own private Goodreads, Letterboxd, and Yelp all rolled into one (more info here). Ratings are 100% subjective, non-scientific, and subject to change. May contain affiliate links.

4 out of 5 stars


I know this is the Barbie movie, but at the risk of sounding patriarchal, can I talk about Ken for a moment? Played by Ryan Gosling with a blend of petulance, naïveté, himbo energy, and even heartache, he’s the perfect foil for Margot Robbie’s Barbie. He’s an incel with rock-hard abs, a bro so desperate for love, attention, and identity that he ends up threatening everything he claims to love. And by making him more than just a paper-thin strawman — by making his desire for patriarchy (and horses) somewhat understandable — Barbie becomes more than just a movie about a beloved childhood toy. (After all, a good heroine needs a good villain.) I was constantly fascinated by the Barbie/Ken dynamic, and I loved how the movie resolved it all. Watching Barbie, I had an experience similar to that of watching Everything Everywhere All at Once, that is, the distinct feeling that I was not the movie’s primary audience, not even close. To be sure, I found Barbie funny and even moving at times, but I know that scenes like America Ferrera’s powerful monologue hit my wife and all of the other women in the audience on a much deeper level — which is as it should be. I was glad to be there along for the ride. And to be clear, I’m thankful that the prospects of a sequel aren’t that great right now even as I hate the idea of a Mattel Cinematic Universe. Barbie should be allowed to be its own, singular thing.

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