After you sing along to “I’m Just Ken,” Barbie quickly takes a melancholic turn into something completely unexpected. The self-aware movie about a doll who travels to the real world looking for meaning in life is not just emotional but packed with incredible humor that leaves one reeling in the end. Greta Gerwig acknowledges the feelings of being a teen girl, just as she does in all her movies, and takes it up a notch with tongue-in-cheek dialogue. With a packed audience, it’s lovely to see people interact with the film by awwing at the characters and simultaneously cheering them on when the moment calls for it, even if it’s a doll they’re supporting. Barbie sure left us tearing up at many parts in the second half, but it also left us with hope. Let’s break that down a little bit.
Plot Synopsis: What Happens In ‘Barbie’ Movie?
Helen Mirren voices over a video about the inception of Barbie as a doll that changed the world. Little girls around the world didn’t want to play moms anymore with baby dolls, and Barbie was the switch they needed. Quickly, we go through Barbie’s daily routine in the perfect pink world known as Barbie Land. Everything in this routine is perfect, and she never misses a beat. There’s also a president Barbie and Barbie Land even has a constitution! At the beach, she meets all the other Barbies, Kens, and Allen. We see some tension between the Kens immediately, as Ken (Ryan Gosling) is jealous of the attention Barbie gives to Ken (Simu Liu). To impress Barbie, Ken decides to run toward the waves of the sea and ends up hitting them hard and falling down. Before the Kens can have a beach day, though, Barbie resolves the matter, and all is well in Barbie Land. All the jobs in Barbie Land are for Barbies alone. Ken’s just have “beach,” whatever that means.
At night, all the Barbies, Kens, and Allen gather at stereotypical Barbie’s (Margot Robbie’s) dreamhouse to have a dance party. Everything is going wonderfully, and we get to see a massive dance number to an extremely catchy disco song sung by Dua Lipa. But the dance is interrupted when the stereotypical Barbie wonders out loud if the other Barbies ever think about dying. The reaction makes it clear that it’s only she who feels that way, and quickly she pretends to be joking about it. The next day, though, her morning routine goes completely wrong. She wakes up with bad breath, has a cold shower (yes, even with no water, she knows), her waffles are burnt, and even the milk (yes, same as the shower) is expired. This leaves Barbie questioning her perfection. She falls from her roof, and the ultimate warning signal is when her feet become flat. The Barbies tell her that she needs to visit Weird Barbie to get not only her feet made for high heels back but to deal with everything else she’s feeling.
Weird Barbie is one of those Barbies that gets played too hard with and ends up having her hair cut, her clothes ruined, and her face drawn on. Even her dream house looks unique, and she tells Barbie that the only way to solve this problem is if she travels to the real world and meets the girl who is hurting. You see, if the girl is extremely sad, she transfers that sadness to the Barbie she’s playing with. Weird Barbie gives Barbie the directions to get to the real world and back, and she says goodbye to everybody, ready to leave. Halfway along the pink brick road, Barbie discovers that Ken has joined her. She reluctantly agrees to let him go with her, and they make their way to sunny Los Angeles. In their neon rollerblades and matching outfits, Barbie and Ken garner the attention of a lot of people on the street. Immediately, Barbie is struck by self-doubt, but Ken starts to feel enlightened and much more confident. Barbie gets spanked by a strange man and punches him in the face, so Barbie and Ken get arrested. They realize their outfits are not very appropriate and go to a costume store, where they end up in the iconic “Western clothes.”
Barbie finally sits down to think about who her girl is. She gets a vision of a girl playing with a woman who looks like her mother. When Barbie opens her eyes, she has a tear rolling down her cheek—another first for her. The police inform Mattel headquarters that Barbie and Ken are out and about, and a guy named Aaron, who has the information, decides to go “all the way to the top” to inform the CEO directly. While Barbie was learning about her little friend, Ken was learning about the world of men. They head to the school where Sasha is. The meeting does not go remotely as expected, and Sasha throws some terrible words at Barbie, including calling her fascist. Barbie begins to cry profusely while Ken realizes he’s respected in the real world and stumbles upon the concept of “patriarchy.” The Barbies thought they made the real world perfect when they were invented and gave women all the power they needed. They just assumed that the real world was a reflection of Barbie Land, but instead, it was sad and terrifying. Barbie is picked up by Mattel, and Ken travels to Barbie Land alone to show all the Kens everything he learned about patriarchy (yikes!).
Amidst all of this, Sasha’s mother, Gloria, overhears Aaron telling the Mattel CEO that Barbie is in the real world. It was Gloria who gave Barbie all those sad feelings because she was drawing new Barbies, including “cellulite Barbie.” When Barbie reaches the CEO, he tells her she needs to get into a box, and everything will be solved. But just as she’s about to be tied down to the box, Barbie decides she doesn’t want to go back just yet. She runs out, and Gloria and Sasha grab her in their car to save her. Amidst a big chase, Barbie and Gloria realize that Barbie is there for her and not Sasha and the best way for them to escape is to go back to Barbie Land.
‘Barbie’ Ending Explained: How Does Barbie Land Change In The End?
When they reach Barbie Land, to their utter shock, it’s become “Kendom Land” (yeah, he really needs to work on his names). Ken has taken to patriarchy and started a new one in Barbie Land, brainwashing all the Barbies into thinking they like being accessories, handing over beers, and giving them foot massages. Barbie tries her best to talk to everyone, but she fails and gives up. She tells Gloria and Sasha to go back home because she doesn’t have the energy to deal with Ken. Allen is the one who inspires Gloria to fight back, and she decides to take Sasha back. In the middle of all the pink and the glamor, Sasha finally seems to give her mom a chance and not treat her like crap. She gives her a much-needed pep talk for accepting her “weird and crazy” self. Gloria goes back to Barbie Land and finds that Weird Barbie is rescuing Barbies to try and restore them to their best selves. It’s a failure, but what she can’t understand is why stereotypical Barbie was not brainwashed. They assume you’re either brainwashed or not perfect. When Gloria tries to talk to stereotypical Barbie, she reminds her that she’s beautiful, smart, and perfect no matter what. She doesn’t need to be defined by a career or a Nobel Prize because she’s amazing as she is (that WB joke, though).
Gloria makes a speech about how women are supposed to be perfect no matter what; she talks about everything that a woman goes through in the real world. It’s an intense moment that ends with Gloria telling Barbie that if these things apply to a doll, then there’s no saving the world. This speech quickly wakes up all the Barbies in the room, and they hatch a plan to get all the other Barbies so Gloria can unbrainwash them. After all the Barbies are restored, they pit the Kens against each other as a distraction to save the Constitution. The Kens have a dance-off, which ends with them becoming aware that they need to stick together. Finally, all is well in Barbie Land, but stereotypical Barbie still doesn’t feel great.
They need a proper ending for her, and the Mattel executives tell her that she’s in love with Ken. The thing is, earlier, Barbie had made sure that Ken understood that he was enough as he was. Ken never found his identity because he always saw himself as Barbie’s companion. Barbie, on the other hand, became self-aware at this point, seeing that she didn’t feel much different from Ken. Barbie didn’t want to be controlled; she didn’t want to be a perfect doll anymore. She wanted to feel emotions and be like Gloria. When Barbie tells Mattel that she’s not in love with Ken, Ruth shows up—yes, the Ruth Handler who invented Barbie. She takes Barbie aside to a white room and asks her what she wants. Barbie fianlly shares her dilemma with Ruth and tells her that she wants to be human; it’s the imperfection that makes humans so wonderful. Barbie asks her for permission to switch sides, but Ruth tells her that she never needed her permission. She holds Barbie’s hands and gives her life. Barbie sees the image of women across the world, mothers, daughters, and sisters, all looking happy. When she opens her teary eyes, Barbie is breathing like a human. So, she switches worlds from the plastic of Barbie Land to the plastic of LA. At the end of the movie, Barbie gets dropped off by Gloria and her family at a gynaecologist.
Barbie Land, on the other hand, may be restored, but it also gives Kens the same status that women have in the real world. So while Barbie may not look very deep from the exterior, it’s a heartfelt coming-of-age tale about someone who has lost their identity in the middle of trying to impress the world.