Barbie or Barbara?

Beth and I saw Barbie. It’s unlike any movie I’ve ever seen, but I’ve missed quite a few monster hits based upon toys, comic books and video games. I guess I’m a bit of a snob.

Of course, Barbie is aiming higher than bringing plastic dolls to life. There are mature men/women and other themes here, but throughout Barbie keeps coming back to safe ground – humor, clever sets and the nudge-nudge-wink-wink fact that these Mattel dolls are cash cows.

I was never bored during the nearly two-hour movie, but I did feel that the hype this movie received was overblown. Beth and I both agreed that the movie tried to do too much and, therefore, failed to tie everyone’s story up at the end.

What surprised me was this – I started tearing up in the last few minutes when Rhea Perlman’s character, Ruth, encounters Barbie for the pivotal, final scene (spoiler alert) when Barbie must decide if she really wants to remain in her “perfect” plasticized, make-believe world. Like other unreal heroes, Barbie has the opportunity to become Barbara and live with the ups and downs of reality and, eventually, deal with death.

Why was I crying? The movie touched my sadness. I’m sad because boys, girls, men and women are still caught up in playing roles instead of being “real.” Everyone has a choice: stay in the life that was made for you, a place of relative safety, or say “what the heck” and go for the life you yearn for. As the title character asks, “Do you want to be created or create?” This is MUCH harder than it seems. Breaking free requires a leap of faith, trust me.

And that’s a pretty deep theme to come out of a pink paradise, summer movie. It caught me by surprise and, thankfully, gave me something to think about. That and the theatre’s reclining, heated seats made it a worthwhile way to wile away a cloudy afternoon.

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